AFC Whyteleafe round-up – November 2023

A fantastic crowd of 320 saw Leafe’s home game against Croydon on 4 November, and were treated to some fireworks. Leafe were slow to start, with Croydon making the early running and being rewarded in the 6th minute when Ficsher put the visitors ahead with a well-timed run and finish. Croydon should have made it two when Leafe’s defence and keeper hesitated, but the Croydon forward managed to blast the ball over with the goal at his mercy. The home side continued to live dangerously at the back while struggling to find momentum up front, and were made to pay in the 29th minute when Allen headed another in: 2-0. 

The last few games between these clubs have been cagey, tight affairs, but Croydon looked to be heading away with this one. Leafe eventually found some rhythm, getting one back through Watson on the stroke of half-time. Much better in the second half, but still a bit loose at the back, Leaf gave Croydon a few half-chances and some worrying times for the home faithful. They got the break they needed in the 66th minute when Hill ran onto a high ball and was awarded a penalty as the Croydon number two was judged to have had his foot too high. The ref and his assistant conferred, confirmed the penalty and gave a red card. The Croydon player then decided he would undress on the pitch, despite the ref telling him to leave the field, but Watson slotted the penalty home to level the match up. Despite the man advantage, Leafe still struggled to get the momentum going and Croydon probably had the better chances to win. It finished 2-2 and both teams will feel disappointed with the draw.

On 7 November, Leafe hosted Lingfield U23s in the Surrey FA Premier Cup. The youngsters started brightly with running and movement, but deflated as Leafe took the lead with an Orome penalty in the 22nd minute, followed by Roberts and Watson goals in the 25th and 30th. That’s an amazing 10 games running that Watson has scored in this season. 

Roberts added his second shortly after the break and a very unlucky own goal made it 5-0 in the 50th minute. Ryan Bloomfield made it six late on, scoring his first goal for the club: he joined last season but got injured before making his debut. A proven goal scorer at his last club, hopefully he will now be banging them in regularly for Leafe. 

Home again on the 11th to Staplehurst Monarchs. Leafe came out with all cylinders firing, with a few good chances before Douglas slotted home his first goal for the club after four minutes. Leafe continued to dominate and would have scored more if it were not for the visitors’ keeper making some smart saves. As is too often the case, sloppy defending then let the oppo in, with Leafe’s Penfold having to make several saves before the inevitable happened and Staplehurst equalised in the 45th minute.

This knocked Leafe’s confidence and boosted the visitors’: they mounted attack after attack, laying siege to our goal, but MOTM Penfold stood firm and Leafe escaped with the draw.

On Saturday 18th, the Leafe faithful made the trip to Kent’s K Sports. Leafe dominated possession, with K Sports seemingly happy to defend deep and chase the long ball on the break. Not pretty but effective, and Leafe had nothing to show for the first half, despite getting the ball in the net: the goal was disallowed for offside.

The second-half continued in much the same vein until the game turned crazy, with seven goals in 34 minutes. In the 64th Leafe were caught napping, losing possession and allowing the lively K Sports number seven Ganiwa to cross low to half-time sub Bates, who fired it home. Leafe were stunned into action: a great through ball from captain Orome saw Olorunnisomo slot it past the keeper for 1-1. Two minutes later, K Sports were back in front thanks to Bates again, before Roberts made it 2-2 in the 81st. Orome then made it 2-3, but a K Sports corner looped over from the left and met Latchford, who equalised again. In the dying minutes, the K Sports’ keeper brought down Roberts and Watson blasted the penalty home, making it 4-3 and giving Leafe the honours, and a chance for the fans to get their breath back. Phew!!

Away again on Tuesday 21st, this time to one division higher VCD Athletic in the SCEFL League Cup second round. It was a relief to get this game on after a double postponement due to the weather. An entertaining game ensued in front of a small crowd who saw Alaka give Leafe the lead in the 13th minute. VCD fought back and got a penalty on 37 minutes, coolly scored by Bryon. VCD made it 2-1 12 minutes after the break through Edmunson, before Tendross equalised on 59 minutes. It stayed that way until full-time, with penalties to decide the winner…which was Leafe. 4-2, thanks to two great saves from Smith.

Home to Meridian VP on the 25th. Another slow start saw a sloppy Leafe go a goal down early. Disposed in midfield, the visitors broke down the left, and a pinpoint cross saw Mensah head home in the 10th minute. Leafe were bossing the possession, but got careless and could have gone further behind on several occasions before gaining some rhythm and starting to work the defence. 30 minutes in and Leafe scored. Good work from Roberts cutting in from the right: with his shot blocked, it fell to Olorunnisomo to coolly blast home the rebound, 1-1. Leafe were then in command but unable to get a second. The second half was much better: Watson scored straight after the break and 10 minutes later Leeward got a third, to the delight of the home fans. Meridian strived to get back into it, but never really troubled our goal. Victory was sealed with new signing and MOTM Adam Allen making it 4-1 in the dying minutes, and looking like he could bring a bit more bite to our midfield. 

Leafe stay top, but with some huge games coming up in December, including trips to second and third in the league.

Check our website and socials for all the latest news, and read our other monthly round-ups here.

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