It was a bright and clear Saturday afternoon when I returned to the Bauvill Stadium, for my first Southern Counties East Football League (SCEFL) Premier Division tie of 2022.
The Bauvill has enjoyed a bumper season with attendances regularly hitting 600 plus. At the table topping Sheppey United match, earlier this month, an incredible 1876 fans packed the stadium, creating a league record.
Since my last visit here in November, Chatham Town have been on a great run, with four victories and a draw in their last five games, leaving them five points clear of close rivals Sheppey United, albeit they have a game in hand.
Erith Town were pushing Sheppey, Glebe and Chatham for the promotion places in late November. However, a recent poor run of four consecutive defeats, sees them heading into this game desperate for a win. A defeat would surely see their hopes of a promotion winning season disappear, as the gap to the top two would exceed 12 points.
Goal scoring has again this season come easily to Chatham Town, with them scoring 77 goals in 23 league games. Dan Bradshaw is their top league scorer with 31 goals in 21 games, ably supported by Jack Evans with 17 goals in 22 matches.
For Erith Town this season Steadman Callender has top scored in the league, with 13 goals in 22 games. Michael Power has 8 goals from 17 matches, although he has yet to open his account in 2022.
Chatham Town’s team showed that the experienced Danny Kedwell, until recently manager at Cray Wanderers, was in for his first start since arriving at the Bauvill. George Sheminant also received a recall to first team action.
The game kicked off with both sides starting positively. On eight minutes Erith Town had a chance cleared off the line. The link play between Chatham Town’s Hayes, Kedwell and Bradshaw looked very sharp.
In the 13th minute a great downward header from Danny Kedwell, fell to Jack Evans who drilled it home, from the edge of the area to make it 1-0.
The remainder of the half was evenly fought. Erith had two good chances saved well, by Walker, in the Chatham goal. Evans and Bradshaw had chances for Chatham and Ryan Hayes was a constant threat.
The second half was a more cautious battle. Both sides lacked the final touch to be able to create really clear chances. As the game wore on the Chatham fans and players began to feel the anxiety, as Erith Town really clawed their way back into the match.
Then In the 87th minute, Dan Bradshaw headed in clinically from a corner to make it 2-0 and put an end to the tension the mostly home fans, in the crowd of 732 today, were feeling.
On 89 minutes Rhys Bartlett followed up a crossed free kick from Jack Evans to make it 3-0 to Chatham Town and to leave the home crowd very happy.
At the final whistle the Chatham Town fans left happy knowing their team was still top of the SCEFL Premier league and top scorer Dan Bradshaw had added another to his season’s tally.