Match Report: Phoenix Sports 2-2 Whyteleafe
Torrential rain for the entire game last Saturday against Phoenix Sports FC. Our rivals have also started the season brightly and sat two places above us at kick off time.
The rain was definitely a bit of a spoiler, understandably, although Leafe started off at a great pace pressing the home side into their own half. Fresh from the disappointing draw last Tuesday at home to Ramsgate, we were without the suspended Bentley Graham and although young Matt Weller was an able deputy, any side will miss the quality of Mr Graham running the midfield.
With Marvin Armstrong still injured, Daniel Hector moved inside into his position at ten, with Lauris Chin replacing Harrison Carnegie on the right wing and Arif Hattabi making his full debut on the left.
It was clear that Harry Hudson and Calum McFarlane had worked out a plan to catch the Phoenix defence on their heels using the blistering pace of Chin on the break. It worked beautifully several times in the first half but we couldn’t quite convert any of the chances.
It was against the run of play when Phoenix took the lead in the 44th minute from a header from centre half Zak Bryon, following a corner from the left-hand side.
Mind you, thanks to the atrocious conditions I was struggling to see anything as my glasses kept steaming up! I needed Elton John’s wiper blades on Saturday. The rain also put paid to a decent attendance as the official crowd figure given was just 68 hardy souls and I’d hazard a guess that half of them were Leafe fans.
The feeling among the away fans was that it would only be a matter of time before we hit our stride in the second half - and so it proved.
We definitely ruled the roost in the second period and it wasn’t a surprise when we equalised in the 73rdminute, thanks to a penalty by that man, Eddie Dsane. I guess the only surprising thing about it was that it took so long to draw level.
I hesitate to say that we looked home and dry – I was soaked - in the 84th minute when Dan Hector took advantage of a flapping Phoenix goalie to bury the loose ball into the net. All we had to do was see the game out but to be fair to Phoenix they did pile on the pressure getting their reward in the 89th minute, another scrappy goal from a corner from the Leafe right, stuck away by Jack Barry in the 89th minute.
With a conservative four minutes added there was plenty of time for drama with each team looking for the knock-out blow, end-to-end stuff with both teams going close. Whyteleafe fans thought we were going to be lucky when Daniel Hector’s header in the 94thminute looked destined for the back of the net only to hit the underside of the crossbar and bounce out …
At the final whistle, it was obvious given the body language that Harry Hudson was the more disappointed manager at the 2-2 draw although no one could have questioned the quality of our flowing football at times.
Another busy week beckons with the second attempt at staging the Velocity Cup Preliminary round tie away to Egham Town FC on Tuesday following the floodlight failure at the first time of asking, while next Saturday (October 13) sees us travel to Bostik League South Rivals and high flyers, Hastings United, in the Buildbase FA Trophy, which will be a tricky tie and also a precursor for the league clash between the sides at Church Road on October 27.
Former Whyteleafe FC favourite Hassan Ibrahim is plying his trade at Hastings these days.
WHYTELEAFE FC LINE-UP:
1 Tyler McCarthy 2 Bradley Wilson 3 Matt O’Donoghue (Harrison Carnegie 71’) 4 Nathan Campbell (Captain) 5 Ricardo Thompson 6 Corey Holder 7 Lauris Chin 8 Matt Weller (Dan Hogan 66’) 9 Eddie Dsane (pen 73’) 10 Dan Hector (84’) 11 Arif Hattabi (Simon Offei 76’)
Subs Not Used: 12 Helge Orome 14 Gus Lukini