AFC Whyteleafe is back for a new season, in a new league and with some new additions!
The first challenge of our campaign saw Faversham Strike Force visit Church Road on an incredibly hot day. A mixture of nervousness and excitement hung in the air, as we waited to find out if we could compete at this level.
(Above: AFC Whyteleafe v Faversham Strike Force. Photo credit: Andy Crayford – Crayfordmedia)
The first half saw greater possession by us, but good chances fell to both teams. We upped the tempo in the second half and Faversham struggled to contain us at times, until the 77th minute when the outrushing Faversham keeper brought down Temi ‘A-Train’ Alaka and was sent off. Tedros scored from the resulting free kick: the Leafe led 1-0, with Faversham down to 10 men.
Despite this, they then started bossing the game, leading to a very soft pen in the 90th minute, awarded to their player for falling over. They don't sing, ‘You're not going to score aah, cos we've got David Boorer’ for nothing: the penalty was saved by Leafe's captain. Frustratingly in injury time, with three defenders around him, their striker still managed to put a shot in the bottom corner. We stop singing as it finishes 1-1.
We welcomed Greenways FC to Church Road for an almost carbon copy of the previous week: Sahara heat, an injury-hit Leafe midfield, sloppy defending at the back and abysmal finishing in attack. Another frustrating 1-1.
We went on the road in search of our first 3 points, travelling to south east London to play Thamesmead FC. The first 10 minutes were an even affair: they had the greater possession, but we had the speed of Temi Alaka, who caused no end of problems for their left back. Lovely wing play by Dani Wilson, whose cross into the box found Temi for a simple finish. 1-0 to the Leafe.
Thamesmead then upped their tempo: a great bit of play saw their number 8 twist and turn and get a shot off that looked certain to be a goal, but Leafe keeper Jimmy Penfold had other ideas and a spectacular save saw it pushed wide. Continued pressure from the hosts, a reckless challenge from Orlebar in the box and a penalty awarded. That man Penfold to the rescue again, diving to his left to push it away, still 1-0. The save had a positive effect on our players, who then took control of the game. A long free kick into the box found Wilson: his shot ricocheted off the bar and fell to Temi to smash home. 2-0.
More pressure from us in the second half and then, in the 63rd minute, a pig flying past almost obscured my view of Joe Condon scoring an actual header: 3-0! A nervy last 15 minutes, with chances and a goal falling for Thamesmead. The game ended 3-1 to the Leafe, still unbeaten in the league and a number of players starting to look back to form.
A decent start
So, yes, we can more than compete in this league. Thanks to those that made the trips to Church Road in the freakish 35 degree heat; we managed to record the second and fourth highest attendances at our level in the country. We are expecting bumper crowds for our home matches on 10, 17 & 27 September. Come down and support your local club, the Mighty Leafe!
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