Crowborough Athletic and Rusthall
Chatham Town vs Crowborough Athletic 22nd September
Chatham Town had two good chances in the first ten minutes, but visitors Crowborough Athletic took the points as they won 2-1 at Maidstone Road.
On the first wet and windy afternoon of the season, Chatham were first to settle. The game was just five minutes old when some sloppy defending saw the ball break to Michael Hagan, but the Crowborough goalkeeper - Dan Ellis, once of Chatham Town - did well to deny him. Byron Walker had a shot blocked three minutes later, but after that bright start it was Crowborough who soon took control.
The visitors took the lead after 15 minutes when Leppard's looping header caught the Chatham defence unaware. The remainder of the first half was fairly quiet with few chances for either side, although Chatham might have a penalty after 36 minutes when there seemed to be a push in the penalty area as players of both sides contested a Paul Vines cross.
The second half started similarly to the first, with Chatham having most of the ball. They won their first corner of the afternoon on 52 minutes, while Hagan's cross two minutes later caused some confusion in the Crowborough defence but was cleared. But just as in the first half, Crowborough scored after 15 minutes' play. This time, Joseph's scooped shot took a deflection and gave Ben Nourse no chance.
Hagan had a shot saved by Ellis following a corner minutes later, and Chatham pulled a goal back on 68. Vines got his head to a cross from the left, and Chatham were right back in the game. Jason Thompson saw a shot sail over the bar on 75, before a Vines shot from a narrow angle moments later was well saved by Ellis. Ellis told the Chatham supporters behind the goal that he would waste as much time as he possibly could in the closing minutes, and indeed did so with a faintly comical attempt to convince the referee that he was badly injured.
In a frantic closing period Chatham won a succession of corners, but there was no pleasing them today as time ran out and Crowborough took the points back to Sussex.
Chatham Town 1 (Vines 68) Crowborough Athletic 2 (Leppard 15, Joseph 61)
Team: Nourse, Grant (Spiers 67), Butler, Bedford, Avery, McDonagh, Pilbeam, Thompson, Vines, Walker (Mahoney 45), Hagan (Fitzgerald 67). Subs not used: Clarke, dos Santos.
Referee: Mr T Enstone.
Rusthall vs Chatham Town 29th September
Chatham Town dominated from start to finish as they won 7-0 away to Rusthall.
Chatham won a corner with the first attack of the game straight from the kick off, and although nothing came of that corner it was already apparent that the Rusthall defence was uncertain. Michael Hagan had a shot saved by Cornish in the Rusthall goal, and the keeper also did well to collect a Byron Walker cross, but it was no surprise when Chatham took the lead after 19 minutes. Chatham were awarded a penalty for a push following a corner, and Paul Vines duly put them ahead from the spot.
Reece Butler had a shot saved from Chatham's next corner, although Rusthall did miss a good chance to equalise when a cross from the right evaded everyone and went away for a goal kick. Chatham doubled their lead after 35 minutes when Jack Mahoney's fiercely hit shot from just outside the area took a deflection and went in, and it could have been three moments later when Jon Pilbeam's shot was saved by the keeper's outstretched foot. The same player did score on the stroke of half time after walking through the Rusthall defence, and the game was over as a contest.
Taylor McDonagh had the ball in the net in the opening minutes of the second half, but it was ruled out for an apparent offside. McDonagh would not be denied his goal though, and on the hour mark he scored Chatham's fourth after being left with a simple finish from Vines' cross. Three minutes later it was five, when Pilbeam broke from half way and passed to Michael Hagan, whose volleyed finish made him Chatham's fifth different scorer of the afternoon.
Ben Nourse was forced into his only genuine save of the day on 64, and although McDonagh and Walker both went close the game then became a little quiet. Were Chatham happy to sit on their five goal lead? No, because Mahoney made it six with a volley from a narrow angle on 89 minutes. There was still time for Eitel Goueth to add a seventh - his first for the club - with a solo effort, before the final whistle wrapped up Chatham's biggest winning margin of the millennium.
Rusthall 0 Chatham Town 7 (Vines 19p, Mahoney 35, 89, Pilbeam 45, McDonagh 59, Hagan 62, Goueth 90)
Team: Nourse, Grant, Butler, Mahoney, Walters-Wright, McDonagh, Pilbeam (Clark 81), Fitzgerald, Vines (Goueth 67), Walker, Hagan (dos Santos 77). Subs not used: Bedford, Thompson.
Referee: Mr P Agboola.