Canterbury City 2 Corinthian FC 0
A brace from Matt Day was enough to secure the points in this league victory at home to Corinthian and see City leap-frog their opponents and move up to second in the table.
City were impressive going forward in the first forty-five and were purring at times particularly towards the end of the half and then, when put under more pressure in the second, they just soaked up whatever the visitors could muster and never really looked as if they would relinquish their lead.
City, having already safely defended two Corinthian corners took an early lead in the third minute with a terrific strike when Day latched on to a long ball forward, shrugged off a defender and from the right corner of the box struck a first-time, fierce, low shot past the diving keeper and into the far side of the net for 1-0.
A couple of Corinthian attacks passed by without troubling City's defence before they very nearly doubled their lead on nine minutes when a flowing move down the left involving Ben Wilson and Liam King saw the ball centred into the box and Day came sprinting in but his quick-fire effort struck the underside of the bar and cannoned down and out from the goal and was cleared.
City keeper Joe Mant comfortably dealt with an Oscar Housego long free-kick into the box and a cross from left-back James Trueman before a City corner sent in by Wilson landed just on top of the Corinthian net.
Mant and Callum Emptage then combined to deny Andreas Tobon at the near post at the expense of a corner from which City broke at speed with King leading the charge and eventually curling an effort from twenty yards wide. Another Wilson corner saw Dave Cook under pressure head wide at the far post before some good hold-up play from Dean Grant found Day whose lovely inside ball then picked out Grant again this time in full flow, but his early strike was also off target.
City were now playing some lovely attacking football which was great to watch as Brett Ince won the ball well in midfield, skipped past a couple of challenges before finding King in the box. He tried desperately to find some space or an angle to get a shot off but was eventually forced back and laid the ball off to Charlie Dickens who scooped a long shot also wide.
Corinthian were lacking quality going forward as Tobon saw his wild shot spiral far away from the goal before then striking another long effort well over the City bar. City's attacking approach was far more measured and Corinthian keeper Aiden Prall had to get down low to save from Day only to see the referee bring the play back for a City free-kick having already seemingly allowed them the advantage.
Ince then fired a low free-kick straight at the visitor's wall before Wilson and King combined well to set Ince up for a shot that was badly spilled by Prall, but hooked to safety by a defender just as Day was about to pounce and prod the loose ball home.
A rare breakaway from Jamie Billings, after City had given away the ball, saw his cross headed wide by Luke Tanner before another great move by City down the left from Wilson and Ince ended with Day firing wide. It was very much City in cruise control now and the left-hand side proved promising again this time with Wilson, King and Grant romping through the Corinthian midfield and defence only to see Grant's turn and shot across goal take the slightest deflection and go out for a corner from which Cook's header was blocked and then Grant drilled in a low shot that was saved by Prall.
City were playing really well and the break probably arrived at the wrong time for them, but they were still a goal ahead. The bigger 'but' might well have been that, for all their excellent play, should they not have been further in front - and would the fact that they weren't come come back to haunt them before the match was over?
However, it was Corinthian who probably started better after the break, but even so the early stages of the second-half saw some scrappy play. A free-kick lifted into the City box by Housego bounced about in the box and saw several Corinthian half-shots and City blocks before the referee's whistle in City's favour finally relieved the mini siege. Meanwhile Joe Denny made a couple of timely interceptions for the hosts as City tried to get back into their first-half attacking flow.
On fifty-three minutes some persistence down by the right corner flag from Grant saw him nutmeg a defender, run round him and find Ince who rolled the ball into the box where Day was on hand to swing his boot and shoot past Prall for his second goal and to make the score 2-0.
Shortly after, they had a chance to extend their lead still further, when Ince turned well in midfield and fed King but he shot wide. Corinthian needed a response and needed it quick and almost got it when Housego barged his way into the City box only to see Mant dash out and make an excellent point-blank blocking save before a free-kick from wide left was cleared by the keeper with a flying and commanding two-handed punch.
A Grant cross just eluded Wilson arriving at the far post before a Corinthian corner was fired in and out again off the outside of the City upright. On seventy-four minutes a free-kick launched forward by Mant was worked to Day on the edge of the box and the ball just sat up a little too much and he volleyed a fair chance over the bar.
Corinthian then squandered an attacking free-kick, Tobon headed wide from a corner and then substitute Connor Johnson's long shot scooted past the City post. Pressure was beginning to build from the visitors but City were working hard, defending all over the pitch and just soaking it up. Mant safely claimed a free-kick launched into the City box while Denny made a couple of important interceptions to halt Corinthian attacks.
On eighty-six minutes, City had the chance to make the game really safe (if it wasn't already) and Day the chance to take the match ball home when Jordan Wright won it in midfield, got forward and found Day on the edge of the box but his first-time shot just lacked the power and made it easier for Prall to save then it should have been and the hat-trick chance was lost.
In what little time that remained, Mant got everything behind Jack Holland's low, fizzed in effort while at the other end Prall denied Wright before Jack Mahoney's hopeful ball in was safely seen out by Mant.
City were more than worth the victory against last season's runners-up, they played some lovely, entertaining, free-flowing football especially in the first-half and it's great to see a City side creating so many chances - just a slight adjustment needed on the radar at times and then more goals will surely follow...
Final score: Canterbury City 2 Corinthian 0
City: Joe Mant, Callum Emptage, Ben Wilson, Dave Cook, Joe Denny, Will Thomas, Brett Ince (Robbie Dolan), Liam King (Jordan Wright), Dean Grant (Clark Woodcock), Matt Day, Charlie Dickens
Unused Subs: Kudakwashe Muchinjiko, Luwayne Greenwood