Match Report: Hythe Town 1-0 Whyteleafe
Another away game, another trip to Kent. This time to the quaint Cinque Port town of Hythe and another important game for The Leafe, trying to put the brakes on three straight losses, while our hosts have also been stuttering too, of late.
A look at Hythe’s website before the game saw them all but give up on their play-off aspirations this season and a surprising stat that said they haven’t won on the road since early December 2018.
However, this was a home game for them, of course, and any side with a striker of Zak Ansah’s quality in it is a threat. It’s a neat little ground, the Reachfields Stadium, albeit a bit frayed around edges but they care about it, which is good to see. The home crowd are a friendly bunch too.
A wind that can only be described as a ‘forceful seaside breeze’ plated havoc with any thoughts either team had of good football in the first half. A couple of Tyler McCarthy goal kicks were almost blown back to him!
The first minute goal conceded at home to Ashford last week was a hard pill to take but there was almost a case of déjà vu in the first minute (38-seconds on my watch) and Leafe fans watched hands over our eyes, when Hythe midfielder, Sid Sollis, really should have scored after a neat run.
You could tell that each team was lacking a bit of confidence, the sort of nervousness that a run of adverse results brings. The last person to make excuses though, is Leafe boss, Harry Hudson, but fact is our injury list has been on the harsh side of savage of late, especially when the core of the side has been affected.
At least midfield lynchpin, Bentley Graham was back for the visit to Hythe, thankfully. He’s been sorely missed. With new faces trying to gel, the early season ticky-tacky football has given way to a more workmanlike effort.
However, a scrappy start to the match was brought to an abrupt halt by a sickening clash of heads between Hythe centre back, Dickenson and Leafe forward Andre McCollin. Play was stopped for a good five minutes while both were attended too. Dickenson continued but poor Andre looked decidedly groggy as he was helped off the pitch and replaced by Valentino Carpene.
Actually, Carpene looked lively, as did striker Junior Aikhionbare, who had a couple of half chances. Bentley Graham went close but just couldn’t get hold of his shot on the edge of the area, from a corner in the 20th minute. Good performances too from Emmanuel Mensah at right back, Jamie McGeoghegan, while Matt O’Donoghue also put in his usual sterling performance (player of the season contender, anyone?). Tyler McCarthy made another couple of smart saves and he has been in stunning form of late.
That was the extent of the excitement as far as the first half was concerned. More of the same in the second half with neither team really creating any clear-cut chances. Leafe went close from a half volley by Aikhionbare that went agonisingly across the face of goal and just missed going in at the far post, with the keeper beaten.
That’s the way luck goes sometimes. It was great to see Ashley Paul Robinson make his comeback when he replaced Kelvin Ogboe in the 66th minute. The lad endured a nasty injury that has kept him out since early September and he looked lively, too.
The game was petering out into a scoreless draw until a routine Hythe corner in the 81st minute from the Leafe left resulted in a soft penalty. What was I saying earlier about luck and Zak Ansah? Even though I was standing at the other end of the pitch I could see that Leafe centre back Jamie McGeohegan received a large shove in the back that turned his attempt at a headed clearance into what looked a catch.
Sadly, the referee awarded the penalty to Hythe and Ansah stuck it away with confidence.
That was it, really although it was good to see Leafe push hard for an equaliser, which almost came in the 94th minute when young Bryan Akongo so very nearly got on the end of Ashley Paul Robinson’s cross. Another inch and he would have put it away.
Another bad for Leafe but we now look forward to the next game, away to high-flying Haywards Heath.
Man Of The Match – JAMIE MCGEOHEGAN
Whyteleafe Line Up: 1 Tyler McCrathy 2 Emmanuel Mensah 3 Matt O’Donoghue 4 Jamie McGeoghegan 5 Ricardo Thompson 6 Harvey Brand 7 Bradley Wilson 8 Bentley Graham (12 Bryan Akongo 70’) 9 Junior Aikhionbare 10 Andre McCollin (15 Valentino Carpene 6’) 1 Kelvin Ogboe (16 Ashley Paul Robinson).