We entered September on the back of three league wins, with our first test away to Greenways. After being around the play-off places for much of last season, and with a mixed bag of results this season, the Kent side were hard to predict.
The hosts had greater possession to begin with, but no real effort came from either side until the 17th minute. Kleon James intercepted the ball in his own half, made a one-two with Temi and tore down the right, firing a low cross into Taurz on the edge of the box, who chipped the ball onto the foot of Azza Watson: 0-1 to the Leafe. In the 33rd minute Helge found Kleon out wide, who got clattered but somehow managed to lob the ball to Azza. Azza passed to Gus, who clinically dispatched it into the bottom corner: 0-2.
A number of half-chances fell to both teams after the break but in the 80th minute a harsh handball decision saw Greenways net from a quickly taken free kick. Final score: 1-2.
Next, off to the always tough Tooting Bec FC, last season’s play-off finalists. Their start has been surprisingly hit and miss but they never have trouble raising their game against us, their local rivals.
The opening 15 minutes were pretty even. Much of the action took place in a congested midfield before Tooting won a penalty after a Leafe defender was judged to clip their player. Our keeper got down to their low, off-centre shot but couldn’t hold on and it was tapped home by the taker, 1-0 Tooting.
Four minutes later ‘Dougie’ laid a beautiful pass out wide to Temi, who passed to Azza on the corner of the box. A quick bit of footwork found him space through a sea of defenders: 1-1. Lively Gus Ward then caused problems down the left, with two chances almost coming off through his hard work, but the scoreline remained the same.
We had the best chances in the second half, and In the 89th minute Ward whipped a corner in and Taurz bundled it home. Cue fan chaos and Tooting tears, and the three points were ours. Superb!
Another tough test against Faversham Town, whose great form had seen them win their previous four. The visitors hit a long ball over the top, crossed a low one into the box, their striker stuck his boot out and our keeper showed great instinct to get a hand to it and push it away…and there were still only 20 seconds on the clock! A few chances for Leafe before an 18th minute Faversham free kick whipped the ball into the box, where it was met by a header from their unchallenged centre back. 0-1 Faversham.
In the 33rd min, Mike Hill found Azza on the left wing, who fired a ball across the goal that was met by Alaka: 1-1. Three minutes later, Idris took the ball uncontested to the halfway line and landed a beautifully weighted pass at Mike’s feet, who dinked it over the keeper from a tight angle: 2-1. Alaka’s driving run into the box in the 65th minute met a defender, who pulled him back and gifted him a penalty. Mike’s nonchalant shot found the back of the net, much to the delight of the home fans: 3-1 Leafe. In the 90th minute a long ball launched from the back and was met and controlled by Azza in the middle of their half. He lost his man with a bit of magic, did a 1-2 with Helge, who set off down the wing, danced around the defender on the edge of the box, took it forward from a ridiculous angle and fired it into the roof of the net: WHAT A GOAL! The game finished 4-1: the Leafe slayed another in-form team.
Next up saw the arrival of one of the current whipping boys of the league, SC Thamesmead. Playing us is probably the last thing a club wants to do when trying to discover some form. They would have been right to be worried: 7-0 to the Leafe!
A league higher and with five out of five wins so far, Steyning Town away in the FA Vase was our toughest game by far. They started strongly and we gave the ball away too easily and sent passes astray. Some beautiful moves from Azza and Temi in the 9th minute gave Taurz a chance, only denied by the keeper’s fingertips. The game became more even until the 26th minute, when we offered the tamest of resistance to their corner: 1-0 Steyning. The next few minutes saw us put them under pressure with shots on goal, a turned down Temi penalty appeal, and Steyning hitting us on the break with speedy attacks.
A goal for somebody felt inevitable…but it wasn’t us: 2-0. Then another limp, avoidable goal, and we go in at the break shell-shocked and 3-0 down.
We started the second half well, knowing an early goal could turn it around. Unfortunately, it came from Steyning: 4-0. Fair play to the boys for not giving up and pulling back two late goals, but it finished 4-2. Much to learn from that performance, particularly if we have hopes of doing more than surviving at the next level.
Yes, we’re out of the FA Vase, BUT we’re currently top of the league with a 100% record and a game in hand. Follow us on socials and come down to a game to see what all the noise is about!
And It’s now free to watch the fantastic AFC Whyteleafe Women play, so come and support them too!
Read more AFC Whyteleafe articles here.
(Photo credit: Andy Crayford, Crayford Media)