Report: Whyteleafe 4-1 Guernsey
A Bank Holiday match at Church Road is always a bit special. In sultry 30-degree heat is took on even more an edge on Monday, with our visitors being Channel Island side Guernsey FC. All the more admirable was the small contingent of fans they brought with them.
Our visitors struggled last season but had started unbeaten this term, with two 3-3 draws, thus far. Therefore, Leafe boss Harry Hudson, wouldn’t be taking them lightly. In goalkeeper Callum Stanton, midfielder Carlos Canha and striker, William Fazakerley, they have three very useful players.
Leafe started very brightly troubling the Guernsey defence from the off with their clever midfield interplay and the sheer pace of Ronnie Sobowale, who had Corie Andrews pushed forward up alongside him for this match.
A Mannie Mensah through ball (how good has been Mannie been so far, this season?) left Sobowale with a lot to do but his strength allowed him to get into a position to fire a powerful shot past Stanton. 1-0 to The Leafe after just five minutes.
The provider turned scorer in the fifteen minute with some skilful play by Mensah seeing him finish with aplomb. He’s gone very close several times recently so that goal was well-deserved.
To their credit, Guernsey kept the Leafe defence honest and, as mentioned, in Fazakerley, they have a dangerous striker, upfront. Our visitors were forced into an early substitution when their right back Keanu Marsh was forced off with an injury to be replaced by Sebastien Skillen.
The second half saw Leafe continue to dominate possession with Bentley Graham and the equally impressive Jordan Clarke catching the eye. Meanwhile, Mensah and Antonio Walker-Barth were also constant thorns in Guernsey’s side.
The visitors upped their game when the talented midfielder, Carlos Canha replaced Loaring in the 59th minute, just in time to see Ronnie stretch the lead to 3-0. To be honest, Canha made a real difference to Guernsey, though.
To their immense credit, Guernsey stuck at it. A Ross Allen penalty in the 68th minute making it 3-1. Within a minute or so they thought they’d made it 3-2 when a cross was headed in by Fazakerley but to Whyteleafe’s relief it was disallowed. If that had stood the last twenty minutes could have been interesting to say the least.
However, Whyteleafe weathered the storm and for the Leafe fourth, it was Ricardo Thompson, restored to centre-back, who found himself farthest forward, although he clearly enjoyed his midfield flirtation on Saturday, beating two Guernsey defenders and closing in on goal. To be honest I don’t know if his shot was a mis-hit shank that luckily ended up with Ronnie to tap in or whether Ric un-selfishly passed to his team mate to allow him to bag his third! Either way 4-1 to The Leafe!
Substitute Junior Aikhionbare could have made it 5-1 in the 83rd minute but his penalty was saved by Stanton in the Guernsey goal. Their goalie was outstanding it must be said … That’s the last three pens missed by Whyteleafe, incidentally. Talking of goalkeepers, Tyler McCarthy, in the Whyteleafe goal, made a superb save just finger-tipping a seemingly goalbound Canha shot past his left-hand post in the 86th minute.
A comfortable looking 4-1 scoreline is obviously pleasing but in this instance, it doesn’t tell the full story. Mind you, a win is a win and 4-1 is a good win!
It’s very early days yet but after three league games Whyteleafe sit in second (on goal difference) but it should be noted that we have already beaten Chichester City and Cray Valley Paper Mills (both away games, too), two other top six sides and post-match Leafe boss Harry Hudson commented: “I thought in the first half we played with a very good tempo and created lots of chances. However, in the second, whether it was a bit of fatigue caused by two games in three days and/or the hot temperature, our performance levels dropped and it was a much more evenly contested game.
“If their second goal hadn’t been disallowed it could have been a different story. Overall though I’m very pleased with our start to the season.”
We now move onto another tricky test on Saturday, away to perennial rivals, Hastings United FC (Saturday August 31, 3pm), so if you fancy a day out by the seaside why not come and support Harry and the lads. They’d really appreciate it.
WHYTELEAFE LINE UP: 1 Tyler McCarthy 2 Mannie Mensah 3 Matt O’Donoghue 4 Nathan Campbell (capt) 5 Ricardo Thompson 6 Corey Holder 7 Corie Andrews (sub 17 Junior Aikhionbare 53’) 8 Bentley Graham (sub 12 Dami Olorunnisome 78’) 9 Ronnie Sobowale 10 Antonio Walker-Barth 11 Jordan Clarke (sub 14 Jamie McGeoghegan 72’)