City and Punjab All Square as Packed April Schedule Continues
By Kevin Olver
A goal apiece in tight and competitive draw away at Punjab United
Canterbury City 1 Punjab United 1
A game played at quite a pace throughout and with plenty of strength and effort shown by both sides ended all square with City again solid at the back and in midfield but just missing something upfront as they failed to convert some very presentable chances.
Punjab started the quickest and playing down the noticeable slope did appear to give their play a bit more impetus. William Johnson-Cole was very lively early on and he had the first chance when cutting in from the right he hammered a shot just wide of the City goal. Laurent Hamici was creating problems with his tough and aggressive style of play and twice he got forward well but his crosses into the City box failed to find any supporting team-mates.
Renford Tenyue meanwhile had City's first effort when he latched on to a huge clearance from keeper Jack Delo but, forced a little wide, his low shot was saved by Joe Hagen in the Punjab goal. A Kyron Lightfoot corner was then cleared by the hosts but City reworked the ball back into the danger zone and Phil Starkey rolled it across to Rob Lawrence in space but from about twelve yards out he could only direct the ball well over the bar.
Punjab responded when Johnson-Cole showed some neat close control and played the ball in towards the City goal but Ryan Cooper was on hand to clear with the ball spurting back out to Johnson-Cole who fired a first-time shot straight back in for Delo to save down low.
A lovely move from City involving Lawrence, Cooper and Tenyue opened Punjab up through the middle and when Dean Grant cleverly dummied the ball in it fell to Bola Dawodu arriving at the back post but his effort also flew off target and well over the bar. City's next move again highlighted their good approach play when this time, Lightfoot and Adam Woollcott combined well with a telling piece of interplay that eventually saw the latter's shot again fly well over the Punjab bar as a third very decent opportunity passed the visitors by all without forcing Hagan into a save.
Johnson-Cole set up the home side's next strike on goal when he attacked City down the right and laid the ball across for Anthony Adesite, but unbelievably, he too also skied his shot well over the bar.
On twenty-seven minutes, Punjab took the lead when Hamici battled his way into the City box, held up the ball and while holding off all challengers, he pummelled a low shot that crashed off the inside of the far post and into the net for 0-1.
The home side then had chances to double their lead when firstly, Arun Suman saw his powerful shot blocked, then Johnson-Cole poorly struck a promisingly placed free-kick well over the City bar and then Adesite cut in from the left before curling his shot just inches wide of the far post.
Despite this, City responded well to going behind and a dangerous looking ball in from Tenyue was well taken by Hagan, while a Lightfoot thirty-yard free-kick went round the Punjab wall but was also went a foot wide of the post as Hagan hurriedly scrambled across his line to intercept.
At the other end, a Punjab free-kick saw Hamici's header loop up kindly for Delo before on forty-two minutes City equalised. Another free-kick for them slightly further in and centrally placed saw Woollcott step-up and bend the ball around the wall beating Hagan on his right-hand side and clipping the inside of the post on it's way into the net for 1-1.
Punjab ended the half with the final attempt in stoppage time as Johnson-Cole cut in from the left before arrowing a shot across the goal but wide of the far post to leave the game all square at the break.
After the restart, the hosts showed first as they attacked down the left and Hamici found Adesite whose shot was well pushed past the post by Delo down low before a wide left free-kick from Johnson-Cole was speared in right under the crossbar and Delo did well to paw it away to safety.
City responded when an optimistic forty-yard strike from Lawrence was again too high and then he combined well with Lightfoot down the left but his ball was pinged low across the Punjab goal with speed but then only stabbed wide for a goal-kick.
On sixty-one minutes, Woollcott's attacking free-kick went over the wall but also over the bar, while soon after, Lightfoot charged in and pounced on a wayward defensive header hitting a snap volley on the run just wide. On seventy minutes a Punjab corner from the right was whipped in and a free header at the far post somehow bounced and flew wide of the opposite upright instead of hitting the back of the net - a let off for City.
The game, competitive and pacey throughout was understandably just easing off a little as Lawrence saw a shot blocked and Starkey volleyed wide, but on eighty-four minutes, Punjab should have grabbed the points when a cross floated in from the left found Camen Bhandal unmarked and eight yards out but with the goal almost at his mercy, he could only head the ball tamely and straight into Delo's grateful hands.
The last few minutes and added time were littered with stoppages as Lightfoot struck a free-kick into the home wall and two others from City and a corner were both cleared. A Punjab corner and a late free-kick from them also failed to trouble the keeper or the scorers and the match ended with the final score still at 1-1.
City moved up to tenth with the point and they also move quickly onto the next game which is at home to Beckenham on Saturday as their mad rush to the end of the season continues.
Final score: Canterbury City 1 Punjab United 1
City: Jack Delo, Michael Turner, Ryan Cooper, Adam Woollcott, Gary Sayer, Phil Starkey, Kyron Lightfoot, Bola Dawodu (Aaron Elliott), Dean Grant, Renford Tenyue, Rob Lawrence.
Unused Subs: James Nurden, Chris Saunders, Ollie Lee, Michael Dowling.