This was my second visit of the season, to the Belmont Ground, to watch a hastily arranged friendly between two sides, both with relatively new managers, who want the chance to run out their teams before the Christmas and New Year fixtures.
Whitstable Town have had a difficult first season back in the Southern Counties East Football League, since relegation from the Isthmian League last season. Manager Richard Styles left in October and was replaced by Marcel Nimani. Following an initial bounce in form, the Oystermen have slipped and Nimani sees his side currently sitting in ninth place in the SCEFL, with 25 points from 19 games, after just one win in five matches. On a positive note, Whitstable Town are only five points off the second placed team (and automatic promotion place) in the SCEFL, so Nimani will be aware how much is at stake in the opening games of 2023.
Faversham Town could claim to have had a more difficult season. Joint managers, John Embery and Jermaine Darlington were released in October 2022 after a poor start to the season. Simon Austin was appointed but with the team bottom of the Isthmian League (South East Division) and looking like they weren’t moving forward, he was sacked just weeks into the role and replaced by the experienced, Sammy Moore in December 2022. Moore faces an uphill battle to move a side bottom of the league, forward rapidly enough to close the ten points to absolute safety, over the second half of the season.
Today’s friendly would give both sides a chance to test themselves, prior to the Holiday fixtures commencing. It also allowed the new signings, who had joined following the arrival of the new managers, a further chance to bed in with their new team mates, before the serious league fixtures began.
The game was only seven minutes in, with both sides throwing their efforts into attacking football, when Rodney Eurotor scored, after a fine cross from the right, to put Whitstable Town 1-0 ahead.
In the 21st minute Whitstable Town were awarded a penalty, after a clumsy challenge in the box and the reliable Victor Aiyelabola stepped up and put it away, to make the score 2-0.
On 38 minutes, Faversham Town clawed themselves back into the game, with a fine curled finish from the left hand side of the area by Zak Ansah.
The score at half time remained 2-1. Faversham looked to be growing in confidence, however at the break it was the home side who held the advantage.
After an opening 15 minutes of close fought football, with both sides seeking the crucial next goal, it was Faversham Town who were rewarded by pulling deservedly level, after a fine finish from the edge of the box, by Alfie Bates-Giles.
In the 74th minute, the inevitable happened when Faversham Town took the lead, 2-3, with a well finished effort by Michael Adeyemi, completing a remarkable comeback.
The remainder of the match saw both sides throwing caution to the wind. At full time it was however, Faversham Town who walked away with the spoils, having held on to secure a victory, from having been two goals down. both managers would be pleased with the passing football played and will take some hope into the league challenges facing their teams, over the coming fortnight.