Whyteleafe FC

Report: Merstham 1-2 Whyteleafe

The Leafe’s pre-season itinerary saw them pop down the hill to BetVictor Premier side and old rivals, Merstham on Saturday.

Our neighbours have undergone some turmoil in recent weeks with a change of manager and a virtually new squad. However, a team in a league above is always going to be a test and Leafe boss Harry Hudson was looking forward to the challenge.

Merstham lined-up with captain and ex-Leafe centre-back Antonio Simeone at left-back while they looked a very tall and rangy side. However, the first half was all Whyteleafe and although the home side had a couple of chances early doors it was Leafe who dominated.

Funny, but I heard someone say to his mate who had just arrived: “Whyteleafe are on top now but we’ve been battering them.” Very odd that and he clearly wasn’t watching the same game as me, to be honest!

Leafe took the lead with a penalty by Ronnie Sobowale – his ninth goal of pre-season thus far – after he’d started a dangerous move down the Merstham left, causing all sorts of panic. A fierce shot was only parried by their keeper and the ball went a million miles up in the air coming down about six yards from the Merstham goal.

In the ensuing mêlée, their centre-back upended Sobowale and he duly converted the penalty in that unique way of his. Another neat Leafe move about ten minutes later saw the impressive Antonio Walker-Barth through on goal and calmly slot the second.

When the teams went in at half-time, it looked all odds on that Leafe would better the 4-1 pre-season result against Merstham from last pre-season such was their dominance. The second half however, was a different story and to their credit our opponents came storming back into the game particularly in the last 20-minutes or so when they totally dominated.

They netted their own penalty in the 67th minute and then went all out looking for the equaliser. The Whyteleafe defence held firm though but I’d say that Merstham will probably be very upset that they didn’t get something out of the game.

I felt very sorry for their centre-forward, who had looked very sharp in the second period, and seemed odds on to score, from literally a few yards out, with Leafe keeper Tyler McCarthy beaten, only to inexplicably stick the ball well wide. That miss is the type that haunts.

Leafe’s midfield, particularly in the first half, stood out as a unit and their clever, incisive passing and interplay looks very exciting with the BetVictor South East league season kicking off on August 17 (home to Herne Bay, Church Road 3pm).

So, it’s six games unbeaten for Whyteleafe and, say this quietly, we seem to be building genuine confidence and momentum. Another big test comes our way on Saturday (August 3rd – 3pm) at Church Road, with another BetVictor Premier side lying in wait for us – Worthing, and that will be a tough game.

Why not come down and support the lads?

Tyler McCarthy, Matt O’Donoghue, Jamie McGeoghegan, Corey Holder, Ricardo Thompson, Renadie Masumpu; Antonio Walker-Barth, Tre Daley, Bentley Graham, Jordan Clarke, Ronnie Sobowale.

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