WHYTELEAFE 4 – 3 NORTHWOOD FC
MATCH REPORT – PRE-SEASON FRIENDLY
WHYTELEAFE 4 – 3 NORTHWOOD FC
Third ‘behind closed doors’ pre-season friendly at Church Road last Saturday and our visitors this week were Northwood FC from Hillingdon who play in the Isthmian South Central League.
Luckily, the brutal heat of the previous week had mercifully subsided and a morning downpour had made the Church Road pitch a little greasy come kick off time.
I usually try and avoid cliches like the plague – see what I did there! – BUT this was a match very much of two halves with all seven goals and a missed penalty (for our visitors) all happening in the first period.
Northwood opened the scoring in the sixth minute with a neatly taken goal stemming from the Leafe right, a furrow they ploughed successfully throughout the first 45 minutes, it has to be said.
Leafe lined up with Sheikh Ceesay in goal and a revised back four with the versatile Dami Olorunnisome switching to left back and Jamie McGeoghegan being partnered in central defence by newcomer Kian.
The midfield featured Helge Orome (doing a superb job in his new role on the right), Ricardo Thompson revelling in his defensive midfield role with the exciting prospect Courtney Clark joined by another teenage debutant, Ethan Archer creating all sorts for the forwards.
Upfront, playing out wide but drifting inside at will, was the developing partnership of Ryan Gondoh and Andrew Sesay, and those two were responsible for tall four of Leafe’s four goals on Saturday.
Northwood held the advantage for all of five minutes and Whyteleafe’s equaliser came from a Gondoh free kick dead centre about 18-yards out at the railway line end. I was standing with GM Clive Davis at the other end of the ground and I said casually to Clive ‘That’s going in, top bin’! It did go in although Ryan beat the Northwood keeper low down to his left, which maybe, on reflection, the goalkeeper wouldn’t be happy with.
There then followed a period where our dynamic duo of Sesay and Gondoh caused havoc in the Northwood defence with superb build up play from Ethan and Courtney giving them the ammunition. Indeed, Sesay was having a bit of a field day down the left flank. His run and shot saw the ball come out to young Ethan who smashed the loose ball into the net with, it has to be said, venomous power. Leafe 2-1 up.
Leafe’s third came from a corner taken by Gondoh on the Leafe right and headed in at the back post by debutant Kian.
So, 3-1 up and Whyteleafe cruising. To be honest though Northwood looked better than that scoreline suggested and their midfield is impressive with two inverted wingers, a deep lying playmaker at the base of the diamond and a sharp link up man ‘in the hole’.
Rather than go under they regained their composure and fought their way back into the game. They could have gone 3-3 with a penalty superbly saved by Sheikh Ceesay diving to his left, although their equaliser came shortly after from open play, again down the Leafe right.
However, just before half-time that man Sesay popped up with what would turn out to be winning goal. Indeed, he could have had a hat-trick, although as it turned out later on, luck wasn’t on his side on Saturday.
To be quite honest we can easily sketch over the second half other than it was good to see the return of midfielder Bentley Graham and first choice keeper, Tyler McCarthy both getting a run out along with lively forward David Owusu.
The memorable moment of the second period was a negative one and the serious injury to Andrew Sesay. Attacking strongly down the left, Andrew fell awkwardly landing heavily, dislocating his left shoulder. The poor lad was clearly in distress and I’m sure I speak for all Leafe fans, players and officials in wishing him a speedy recovery. A fine young man with talent to burn.
At the end of the match Leafe boss, Harry Hudson was clearly satisfied with his second win in a week but very upset about the prospect of being without one of his star men for several months. A huge blow for sure and it understandably soured what was a decent victory against a very capable opponent.
With Tuesday’s intended opponent’s Corinthian otherwise now engaged Hudson’s men are next in action at Church Road on Saturday (August 22), when we entertain – behind closed doors - Croydon Athletic.