Canterbury City 2-3 Corinthian
Canterbury City 2-3 Corinthian

It was back to the day job for City after last weekend’s FA Vase heroics and it was back with a bump as their seven match unbeaten run came to an end at home to Corinthian.

The turning point undoubtedly came when Danny Lawrence received an early second-half red card after coming on as a substitute at the break which left City down to ten men for the rest of the game.

Matches between these two opponents have grown a bit of an edge in recent seasons and this ugly and very physical and feisty encounter can certainly be added to that list, but today, far too much was allowed to go unpunished and indeed unnoted by the match officials and it was almost inevitable that one side or the other would finish the game without a full quota of players.

The tone was set out very early as in the first two minutes a crunching tackle in midfield quickly followed by a high and unnecessary follow through on the keeper had already seen two City players come off worse, that followed by a niggly coming together on the edge of the City box were three instances that all required attention from the referee but went virtually unnoticed and without comment.

Both sides clearly wanted to win the game and a tough match ensued. Andres Losada-Tobon turned and saw his shot deflected wide of the City goal for a corner and a free-kick swung into the City box was well defended at the back post by Bola Dawodu. City responded well with a couple of corners of their own and Dawodu’s long throws but to this point, neither side, for all the hurry and flurry had actually created a clear cut opening.

The first real chance of the game only came in the sixteenth minute when City’s Dean Grant battled to try to find some space in a crowded Corinthian box before seeing his shot deflected wide. The visitors had another corner defended away by Dawodu before the striker was up the other end seeing his header from an Adam Woollcott free-kick saved by visiting keeper Aiden Prall.

The deadlock was broken on the thirtieth minute however when a Corinthian free-kick was curled into the back post and headed home from very close range for 0-1. City were only behind for about a minute though as a Kyron Lightfoot ball into the visitor’s box then saw an acrobatic overhead kick from Dawodu squeeze under Prall for 1-1.

The strong tackles continued, but one of the worst – when Renford Tenyue was barged off the pitch courtesy of a flying late charge from Corinthian’s Jack Holland went unpunished and barely without comment from a hitherto far too lenient referee.

City then had the next strike on goal when Grant nodded the ball down for Woollcott’s first-time shot on the run to skid across the face of the Corinthian goal – drifting just wide as Prall scurried over to cover it.

The half ended with an exchange of corners when from City’s, Lightfoot saw a shot blocked, while Delo did well to pluck the Corinthian corner out of the air with some immaculate, under pressure handling.

All square at the break then in a very closely fought tussle, the only surprise being that the referee must have left his cards in his car!

City made their change at half-time with Lawrence replacing the injured Woollcott, but before they could barely draw breath they found themselves behind again as Sean Brown bustled his way through the City defence into the box only to see his initial strike well saved down low by Delo, but unfortunately for City the ball rebounded back out and Brown managed to stab it home on his follow through for 1-2.

They almost went further ahead shortly after when a free-kick from out wide right flew across in front of the City goal somehow avoiding any deflection that would almost certainly have diverted it into the net. Again though, City weren’t behind for long as they levelled soonafter when Grant received a ball in from the left, shrugged off a rugged challenge and fired home from the edge of the box for 2-2.

In the fifty-seventh minute, the turning point of the game came when Lawrence went in for a challenge and won the ball, but both players collided and both went down. What followed was the inevitable melee involving the majority of the players as the game, that had simmered along, inevitably reached a predictable boiling point. When the usual pushing and shoving, accusations and arguing finally died down and after consultation with both his linesman, the referee showed Lawrence the red card and awarded Corinthian a free-kick for the original challenge.

With their newly gained numerical advantage the game was surely there now for Corinthian to win and they almost increased their lead moments later when a shot whipped in from the right crashed against the City upright and rebounded to safety.

Having survived that, just a minute later City weren’t so lucky when a ball crossed into the box by Losada-Tobon struck Ollie Lee’s outstretched arm and the visitors won a penalty. Sam Bewick stepped up and hammered the ball home, sending Delo the wrong way for 2-3 and what turned out to be the winning goal.

The remaining twenty minutes or so of the match became a possession of stoppages, irritable challenges and yellow cards. Bewick was already Corinthian’s agitator in chief and after another poor challenge and a speaking to by the referee, he was probably, very wisely, substituted by his bench.

There were two more yellow cards shown to the visitors as they ‘worked hard to manage the game out’ and despite City throwing everything and almost everyone forward they could not find an equaliser. The visitors were going down at every opportunity to take time out of the game and after one scramble from a City corner that left three of their players prostrate, it prompted one wag in the crowd to suggest that there must be a sniper in the stand!

In added time, Delo did well to thwart Brown as he countered from halfway as City were pushing up while City’s last attack saw a cross from Josh Froggatt pick out a very grateful Prall.

No joy for City today as Corinthian continue to barge their way to title contention, final score: Canterbury City 2 Corinthian 3.

City: Jack Delo, Michael Turner (Josh Froggatt), Gary Sayer, Laurence Harvey, Liam Quinn, Ollie Lee, Kyron Lightfoot (James Turner), Adam Woollcott (Danny Lawrence), Bola Dawodu, Dean Grant, Renford Tenyue
Unused Subs: Rob Lawrence, Dan Keyte