Tonight I had a wide range of options on the table, for my midweek non-league football fix. I decided in the end to come to a game in one of my favourite leagues, the Isthmian League South East Division, rarely accompanied by my wife, to the Bauvill Stadium, to watch the battle of second, VCD Athletic, against fourth, in the shape of Chatham Town.
Chatham Town, who were promoted from the SCEFL Premier Division into this league in the summer, have seen Jack Evans with six goals and Dan Bradshaw with five, top scoring coming into the fixture and manager Kevin Hake will be delighted with their position, at this stage, with the prospect of pushing for promotion, still a very real possibility.
The Bauvill is a great venue for watching football these days. Crowds with an average of 700+ this season, along with great stands and facilities and a 3G pitch, which ensures attractive passing football is encouraged. The crowd at Chatham are loud and highly knowledgeable about their football and the atmosphere, whether from the Bar and food stands, the PA system pumping Depeche Mode’s “Just can’t get enough” or the positive interaction between players and the 567 people in the crowd, ensures almost all visitors would go away feeling some connection with the place. My first visit was two years ago now, but since then I have found myself drawn back regularly and I have seen some growth in the club in that time.
VCD Athletic sit proudly in second place in the Isthmian League South East Division, coming into the fixture. Grant Basey, their manager, joined them when Nick Davis left, to lead Sittingbourne, in May 2022. Since then, the team have built upon their ninth position in the league, last season, to soar high in second place, having secured notable victories against teams such as Sheppey United and Beckenham Town, as well as drawing 2-2 with league leaders, Ramsgate. The challenge will now be to sustain this start, which makes this match such an important fixture for both sides.
Anthony Adesite with four goals and Youssef Bamba with three goals, have been the top scorers for VCD Athletic coming into the game. With such a goal rich line up for both sides, it looked very much as if this game would offer entertainment and the prospect of goals.
The game was barely ten minutes old, when Chatham Town’s Dan Bradshaw followed through on a chased long ball, to slip the ball past Kamurasi in the VCD Athletic goal and make it 1-0 to the home side.
In the 19th minute it was 2-0, to Chatham Town, when a Jack Evans free kick was flighted into the corner of the net, with the customary elegance that Chatham fans have come to expect from their leading scorer.
As the remainder of the half progressed, the VCD Athletic players began to play themselves back into the match. Chances were created, without anything being converted. At the half time break Chatham Town went in with a two goal cushion.
In the 58th minute, Chatham found some space on the counter attack and Dan Bradshaw unselfishly passed, for Emmanuel Oloyede to finish and make it 3-0.
VCD Athletic didn’t give up and Greaves, Allassani and Dent worked hard up front, to create chances and ensure the home team didn’t have an easy run upto the final minute.
As the whistle went for full time, it was Chatham who now found themselves in second place, just a win behind the leaders, Ramsgate, with a game in hand. Tonight had belonged to Chatham Town, but both the victorious home team and VCD Athletic will believe this could still be their season, with so much still to play for.