AFC Whyteleafe finished September with games against two of our local rivals. First up was a trip to AFC Croydon Athletic, for a chance to qualify for the FA Vase first round draw. After some great initial play from the Leafe (against the run of play), Croydon managed to take a one-goal lead. Sustained pressure from us led to an equaliser in the 40th minute, followed by, four minutes later, a penalty being awarded after Temi Alaka was brought down. Joe Condon stepped up and put it away: 2-1 to the Leafe.
Sustained pressure from Croydon in the second half (with the occasional chance to us) and they equalised in the 70th minute. The two teams battled for the remaining 20 minutes but the game ended 2-2 and we went to penalties. Our keeper – and Captain Fantastic – David Boorer came to the rescue (as he so often does) with some brilliant saves, ensuring we got through to the next round of the FA Vase.
In mid-week we welcomed another local rival to Church Road: Tooting Bec FC. The first half saw some amazing football from us, probably the best we've seen all season, and we took a 1-0 lead into half-time. In the second half, the visitors came out strong and found an equaliser in the 49th minute. Three minutes later and we were back in front after some great play. Unfortunately, a few substitutions seemed to affect us and Tooting drew level again. In the 77th minute came heartbreak, as Tooting scored their winner and the game ended 2-3.
On 1 October we went on the road, making the 140-mile round trip to Lydd, where we took on the league leaders. Their reputation preceded them and they did not disappoint. A huge, physical team and masters of the dark arts, their entire team and bench screamed for every decision, whether it was a corner, throw in or a foul, maintaining this with the odd brutal challenge for the full 90 minutes. We left the game with a 2-1 defeat: our only consolation being that none of our players sustained any serious injuries. We very much look forward to hosting them at Church Road in the return fixture.
Our next game saw us in the SCEFL League Challenge Cup, against local rivals Croydon FC. The game was a very even affair, with Leafe managing a 1-0 victory and moving through to the next round. Mid-month, and we were back in league action, as we took on Forest Hill Park FC. This one turned out to be a real classic for the insomniacs with the game ending 0-0.
Next up was the first round of the FA Vase at home to title challengers Snodland Town FC, who recently beat us at their place, in the league. A record attendance of over 400 Leafe fans were treated to something quite special as we ran out 7-1 victors. We now proceed to the second round, with an away trip to play North Greenford Utd FC on the 12 November.
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(Above: AFC Whyteleafe v Snodland Town – Credit – Andy Crayford – Crayfordmedia)