Report: Maldon & Tiptree 2-2 Whyteleafe
With pre-season being like a mini-season all on its own, the matches come thick and fast this time of year.
So it was that Whyteleafe headed off over the River Thames and into Essex for an away match at BetVictor North side Maldon & Tiptree, aka The Jammers on Tuesday evening. Why ‘The Jammers’? Well, the Tiptree bit of their name is the giveaway as it’s the home of jam-makers par excellence Wilkins & Sons! Other makes of jam are available, by the way!
There’s another link with Maldon & Tiptree too. It’s the club that our former striker, Eddie Dsane spent the second half of last season with on loan as part of his move to Colchester United. He’s now at Leatherhead, incidentally.
I guess the biggest fear factor of the evening for Harry Hudson and his side was getting to Maldon. As all Leafe fans know only to well the M25 can make for perilous travel when it feels like playing up. Luckily, it went in our favour and there were no dramas or late arrivals.
We were greeted with a nice, tidy little ground surrounded by new housing developments and a sports centre. The grass pitch looked to be in perfect condition for good football. Lush and green.
Maldon & Tiptree finished second in the BetVictor North division last season and lost in their play-off final to Heybridge Swifts. However, according to the nice man on the turnstile, they how have an almost all-new side for this season.
They are certainly a big group of lads, well-drilled and looking early on as if they’d been training all summer. Great thing was they wanted to play nice football, so the small and bijou travelling Leafe contingent settled down to enjoy the match.
Most of the first half was pretty even with both sides having their chances. As the pre-season matches progress Harry moves closer to honing his players and settling on his strongest starting eleven. Leafe were at full strength here with just Matt O missing due to a niggle picked up last Saturday against Molesey.
Leafe certainly played the prettier football with new left winger Antonio Walker-Barth looking particularly sharp and tricky, causing his opposing full-back a lot of problems.
Young left-back, Renadie Masumpu impressed again too, when he came on.
It has to be said that M&T missed a couple of sitters and should have been at least two goals up early on. Right on the half time whistle, however, a Whyteleafe attack down the right, ball crossed in, Ronnie Sobowale looked set to score but was judged by the referee to have been fouled and Leafe were awarded a penalty, which looked fortuitous, to say the least. Still that was the referee’s decision and Ronnie duly smashed the ball into the back of the net. 1-0 Whyteleafe at the break.
Within five minutes of the restart M&T were level, though, after a smart five-man move and seemed to gain momentum from that taking a 2-1 lead ten minutes later. Pressure was very much on The Leafe but a few tweaks by Harry and Calum saw us regain our composure and frankly the last part of the match saw us dominate and we could have scored five times if lady luck had gone our way.
As it was, a smart finish ten yards out from striker, Martin Sontan saw us bag a well-deserved equaliser. Sure, it has to be said that as a Leafe fan I am biased but some of our football against M&T was just as pleasing as last term’s early season successes. Long may it continue, I say.
So, two draws from two pre-season games but on the whole two pleasing performances and several stand-out newcomers. A very enjoyable game, this one. We roll on now to a home fixture this Saturday (July 20 – 3pm) at Church Road when we entertain Peacehaven. See you there.
1 Tyler McCarthy 2 Mannie Mensah 3 Bryan Akongo 4 Nathan Campbell (capt) 5 Ricardo Thompson 6 Corey Holder 7 Tre Daley 8 Bentley Graham 9 Ronnie Sobowale 10 Martin Sontan 11 Antonio Walker-Barth
Substitutes: Jamie McGeoghegan, JJ Malcolm, Renadie Masumpu, Malachi Simpson, Kadeen