Report: Whyteleafe 3-1 Three Bridges
A chilly winter’s afternoon at Church Road on Saturday as The Leafe entertained struggling Three Bridges, although Harry Hudson expressed caution as the West Sussex side did the double over us last season.
With three ex-Leafe players in their squad – Andrew McCollin, Antone Douglas and Solomon Taiwo, our visitors started well, although it was clear that Leafe were looking to build on recent wins.
As the first-half progressed, Whyteleafe began to take control, although Leafe keeper Tyler McCarthy pulled off a stunning close range save with his legs in the fifteenth minute to deny Bridges an opener.
Young Corie Andrews was in the thick of the action and had two great chances – one in the 22nd minute and again two minutes later when Three Bridges’ new keeper, Sam Freeman, made two good stops.
However, with Ronnie Sobowale back in the side and looking threatening, the Three Bridges defence, with Tadley Bromage outstanding, were ever mindful of the danger our that Ron brings. He didn’t have his best game on Saturday, but the lad went home with three goals to his name.
His first on Saturday, after 25-minutes, came via a superb shot from range by Mannie Mensah that thudded against the crossbar. Ronnie reacting quickest to the rebound. He still had work to do, but I think Leafe fans always knew it would end up in the onion bag.
The Whyteleafe midfield trio were pulling all the strings in the first period. Bentley Graham, in imperious form, alongside Antonio Walker-Barth and Mannie probing and asking questions of the Three Bridges midfield, who found it difficult to cope.
Mannie Mensah is quite rightly, a real fan favourite but until lately the only thing lacking from his game was scoring. He seems to have addressed that as he is making a habit of launching blasters from a minimum of 20-yards out. Some are going in, whereas others like on Saturday rebound and set others up for goals.
The second goal arrived on the stroke of half-time after another pleasing Leafe move led to a tap-in for Ronnie. In fact, Three Bridges were lucky not to have had a man sent off as just before the goal.
Their defence was bravely playing a very high line. A through ball by central defender Corey Holder, for Ronnie, just inside the Three Bridges half looked promising. Ronnie in a foot-race against a defence on the turn is enough to make a Leafe fan expect the best.
However, he was unceremoniously hacked down by ex-Leafe defender, Antone Douglas, who looked to all the crowd as if he was the last defender – meaning that the ref could well have sent him off. He got away with just a caution. Lucky lad.
Three Bridges had clearly been read the riot act at half-time because they came out looking a lot more focussed and keen to get back into the game. A period of good play for them resulted in them pulling a goal back through Ruben Soares Junior in the 66th minute and for a little while Leafe were hanging on a bit.
Mind you, they weathered the gentle storm, actually more like a squall, and that man Sobowale was on target for his third in the 84th minute. A fairly routine finish after some great build up play down the Leafe left.
Aside from Ronnie bagging his three goals and the others also mentioned, centre-back Ricardo Thompson had arguably his best game so far this season on Saturday until he had to limp off after 72 minutes. Although a centre-back, Ric is a versatile player and this season has been asked to deputise in centre midfield and as on Saturday, at right-back/right wing-back replacing the injured Matt O’Donoghue.
Another player, who often flies under the radar, but deserves a special mention, is Jamie McGeoghegan. When he comes into the side, Jamie never lets any one down and as a Leafe fan said on Saturday ‘he’s a real steady Eddie’ and he had a very good game against Three Bridges.
Loan signing from Cray Wanderers, striker Freddie Parker, looked lively when he came on in the 66th minute.
So, a 3-1 win, moves Leafe back up to seventh place and just a few points out of the play-off spots. Although pleased with the victory, Harry Hudson was that pleased with the performance, although a win and a hat-trick for your striker is surely good enough. We move onto a home match on Tuesday evening (December 3 – Church Road 7.45pm) when entertain ‘The Brickies’ aka Sittingbourne Town FC.
LEAFE LINE-UP: 1 Tyler McCarthy 2 Mannie Mensah 3 Corey Holder 4 Nathan Campbell 5 Jamie McGeoghegan 6 Ricardo Thompson (sub 72’ 12 Helge Orome) 7 Corie Andrews (sub 66’ 17 Freddie Parker) 8 Bentley Graham 9 Ronnie Sobowale 10 Antonio Walker-Barth (sub 59’ 14 Hamilton Antonio) 11 Peter Wedgeworth
Subs Not Used: 15 Junior Aikhionbare 16 Aristide Bassele