Whyteleafe FC

Report: Whyteleafe 0-4 Cray Valley PM

A bad day at the office for Harry Hudson’s Leafe side on Saturday. The Paper Mills bit of the Cray Valley name might make you think that they are the works football side from the paper factory but that would be incorrect.

Promoted from the SCEFL League last season after a life and death season long fight with Corinthians, which went down to the last game of the season, the pair of them miles ahead of everyone else, Cray Valley got to grips with our league very quickly. They also reached the final of the FA Vase last term, too.

We played them early in the season in the FA Cup Qualifying Round, at their ground, just off the South Circular Road in Eltham, on one of the hottest days of last summer and managed to scrape a 1-0 win. I remember Harry saying then that they would be a side to watch in the league. At kick-off time on Saturday, they sat in fourth place.

Then we played them away in the league on a chilly autumn evening and were losing that one when the match was abandoned due to a Cray player being very badly injured. So, if you read last week’s Gaffer’s Chat, Hudson knew it was going to be a very tough encounter, on Saturday.

The first half gave no clue to what the final result may be as it was very even, both sides looking towards the play-off places. If anything, the Leafe shaded it. Cray had an effort cleared off the line and a dangerous free kick, while forward Tomlin’s shot across goal just missed going in.

Similarly, Leafe were creating chances, shutting off Cray’s supply lines to their strikers and with young Corie Andrews starting superbly and linking well with Ronnie Sobowale and Ryan Gondoh, it looked only a matter of time before we’d go in front. New signing, Ryan Gondoh was very lively and causing the Cray left back all sorts of trouble. Indeed, once their management team saw the potential havoc he was causing their defence they put two men on him for the rest of the game.

Good to see, Renedie Masumpu back in the Leafe side. A regular for the first half of the season, he then went off to play in Germany, but good to hear he’s now back for the rest of the season.

Gondoh has certainly impressed Leafe fans, all the more impressive given that this was only his third start. He had a couple of chances, as did Ronnie, while a great, mazy run by Andrews saw his shot clip the post, with Cray keeper Walker a bystander.

The match was 0-0 at half time and a few Leafe fans were thinking it might stay that way as both teams looked very evenly matched. Indeed, it looked like being more of the same until the 53rd minute, when Cray’s imposing centre-half Ali Tumkaya scored the first of his two goals (both from set pieces!).

Our visitors then enjoyed a vivid purple patch for the next 20-minutes with Tomlin bagging the second in the 64th with the third coming just two minutes from Cray’s talented right winger, Denzel Gayle, who scored one of the nicest goals we’ll see at Church Road this season.

He picked the ball up from a throw-in from the Leafe left and moved across the penalty area, before unleashing a sweetly struck, curving left foot shot that evaded the best efforts of Leafe keeper Tyler McCarthy. Tumkaya completed the scoring in the 73rd minute.

So, a 4-0 win for Cray and it has to be said, a comfortable one and they stay in fourth and stretch the gap to fifth placed Herne Bay, while Leafe remain in sixth, a point ahead of Guernsey and just two points out of the play-off spots. Hopefully, this result is a blip and Harry and his assistant Calum will get the boys in the right frame of mind for next Saturday’s visit to eighth placed, Sevenoaks Town, followed on Tuesday 11th with a trip to … Cray Valley!

Injury and suspension concerns for Leafe though. Nathan Campbell worryingly limped off at the end of the first half, with midfield dynamo Mannie Mensah, following in the 62nd minute. Add to that Bentley Graham and Helge Orome joining Peter Wedgeworth on the suspended list and the boys will have to dig deep in coming weeks.

Whyteleafe Line Up: Tyler McCarthy, Emmanuel Mensah, Ricardo Thompson, Nathan Campbell©, Jamie McGeoghegan, Corey Holder, Corie Andrews, Bentley Graham, Ronnie Sobowale, Ryan Gondoh, Renedie Masumpu.

Whyteleafe Subs: Helge Orome, Antonio Walker-Barth, Freddie Parker, Lesley Duru, Matt O’Donoghue

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