After October’s incredible cup result, it was back to league business as we travelled to Kent to take on FC Elmstead.
The first 20 minutes were evenly contested, until the Leafe got a foothold. Applying the pressure forced a couple of outstanding saves from the Elmstead keeper before he was beaten by an innocuous shot that bounced over him. 1-0.
The second half saw a rejuvenated Elmstead push back: we hit them on the break but failed to capitalise on some great chances. We hung on for three points until a 90th minute Elmstead penalty, which they duly dispatched for a 1-1 finish.
Next up, we welcomed Thamesmead FC to Church Road for a must-win game: an air of nervousness was hanging in the air, pre-kick off. Fortunately, the boys calmed everybody by going three goals up in the first 18 minutes. Thamesmead pulled one back in the 25th minute and that’s how the game ended.
We made the trip to north-west London the next week, to face North Greenford FC in the FA Vase. They play in a league higher and it showed: during the first 15 minutes they opened us up at will, hit the crossbar and the post, had a near miss and scored. A massacre looked on the cards as they continued with waves of attacks, but somehow our defence stood firm. A rare visit into their half saw us hit them on the break: a lovely finish from Nile Waite levelled it up. Cue more attacks from the hosts and a deserved second. Thankfully, the half ended with only those two against us (it could have been eight).
The second half was more evenly contested, with a hatful of chances for both teams. North Greenford scored in the 74th minute and the Leafe grabbed a late consolation goal, for a respectable final scoreline of 3-2 (somehow!).
League big boys
(Above: AFC Whyteleafe v Larkfield & New Hythe. Credit: Andy Crayford, Crayford Media)
Next: a Church Road welcome to Larkfield & New Hythe FC, one of the league big boys (think Man City). This was always going to be a tough game but the Leafe showed no fear. Attacking from the opening whistle, they had a few good chances and then, on his second club debut (is that even possible?), Ashley-Paul Robinson unleashed a rocket into the bottom corner: 1-0.
11 minutes later, a L&NH free kick entered the box: a free header whilst we were playing musical statues. 1-1. More chances from us but still level at the break. The Leafe came out again without their initial intensity, allowing L&NH back into the game. A Robinson 35-yard screamer missed the target by inches, and then L&NH took the lead, against the run of play. Final score: 2-1 to L&NH.
Our final November game was a visit from local rivals Croydon FC. Our third encounter with them this season, the first two were tough and no less was expected this time. Chances fell to either side before – BOOM! – Robinson fired into the top corner: 1-0. Wilson’s rampaging run found Waite in the box, who calmly made it 2-0. Croydon responded with a beauty four minutes later: 2-1. Half-time, and the biggest attendance in the country (at this level) caught their breath. The second half saw more of the same, with Croydon equalising after 55 minutes. Final score 2-2.
Never has the F-word (frustration!) been heard around Church Road as much as this season: we’ve been so close to turning defeats into draws and draws into victories. We've rarely been out-played and we've only ever lost by a solitary goal: keep the faith, good times are coming!
Saturday, 17 December: we host Nottsborough FC for a Christmas Fundraiser Friendly. All proceeds go to our local foodbank. See our flyer below!