Whyteleafe? In Pre-Season? Never!


Att: N/A


SUTTON UNITED – 3  [Garness 41. McBean 63. Watkins 70]

Having missed the opening friendly with Walton due to holidays and then the Dulwich game being washed out (A waterlogged pitch? In July? WTF?), I find myself in the unusual position of not having seen a pre-season match going into the final week of July.

Still, I’m not all that enthralled by a trip down to Church Road though. Don’t get me wrong, it’s certainly one of the more pleasant local non-league grounds you’ll visit, being tucked under the hill and surrounded on 3 sides by trees etc. The surroundings aren’t exactly unpleasant. But, it’s something like the 8th time in 10 years we’ve been down here and I wish we’d try to get somewhere a little more unusual. Or at least somewhere we’ve not been for a while.

Ho hum.

I meet up with PC in the Whyteleafe Tavern and we snatch a couple of beers before strolling down to the ground and finding Windy nattering to some fellow sufferers outside the clubhouse. The squad has a familiar look to it, with a large number of last seasons faces in attendance. Although triallists Nick Green and Stephen Oroka add a little bit of “Who?” type interest

As per normal for a PSF, it’s more a summary than a proper report as I can’t be arsed to be honest!

4min – Ball out right sends Garness clear of the defence. He heads for goal and turns inside smartly to lose a defender heading across to cut him off. His shot from 6 yards thumps back off the near post. Watkins following up drags his shot from the corner of the 18 yard box across the target.

7min – Low pass in from left to feet of Garness, his turn & shot zips wide of the near post.

11min – Long ball forward is flicked on by Oroka and sends Watkins clear behind the defence. He just reaches the ball before the keeper on the edge of the box, but his prodded effort is blocked on the 18 yard line.

22min – The home sidetake advantage of a mix up down the left and a low ball across the box is scuffed clear by Scooby in the middle and after a brief scramble in the box sees two follow up efforts blocked before the ball is cleared.

34min – Another ball through sends Garness clear, but a slight hesitation when 1 on 1 with the ‘keeper and his effort is blocked with his legs.

36min – A somewhat iffy corner is awarded and promptly causes the U’s defence problems. A chance to clear the lines is missed and another scramble ensues, 2 efforts are again blocked and Wilson eventually gathers.

37min – Good run takes a home attacker to the byeline out on the right. Low cross in flashes across goal with no one there to apply the finishing touch.

41min – GOAL 0-1 – Typically, having had their best spell of the game, the hosts are soon behind. A free-kick from the right is nodded away to the left. Oroka recovers and hooks the ball 1st time back across the box where Garness gets half a yard on his marker to guide a neat sidefoot volley inside the near post.

45min – The home side almost level right on the break, a cross delivered at pace from the left is met with an acrobatic effort at the far post, but Wilson reacts well and saves very smartly.

Sadly, my desire for a half time bacon roll is dashed when I find the tea bar are all out of dead pig. Ho hum, hot dog it is then! The break is passed in the usual talking bollocks manner before the sides re-emerge for the second half. Immediately we notice that Tanner has been withdrawn for Bray, but apart from that, it’s as we were.

45min – SUB – Tanner (Off) – Bray (On)

49min – McBean bursts down the left and plays a low ball across the box. Garness recieves and manages to turn and get off a shot that is blocked. Oroka follows up and brings a good low one handed save out of the ‘keeper who claws his effort round the post.

52min – Pass from the centre out to the right over the full-back puts Watkins in, but his low angled shot clips the heels of the keeper and deflects just wide of the near post.

56min – Watkins gets in down the right again, this time pulling the ball back for Garness. But with the goal at his mercy, he falls over the ball and it trickles harmlessly wide.

59min – SUB – Garness, Oroka, Fitzgerald (Off). Palmer, Alimi, Graham (On).

63min – GOAL 0-2 – The treble change has an almost immediate effect. With Graham going out right and Watkins switching to the centre, the forward is soon linking up with McBean. Battling through on the right, he cleverly clips a little ball over to the centre for Warren to head down and under the ‘keeper from close range.

70min – GOAL 0-3 – McBean returns the favour soon after, surging down the left and cutting in before laying the ball across the box for Watkins to slide in and rifle home from 8 yards.

80min – The home side show a brief bit of life near the end. An attacker getting down to almost the byeline on the right and hitting a fierce effort on goal from a very narrow angle. Wilson is equal to it though and beats out the shot.

82min – RED CARD – A Whyteleafe sub leaves the ref little option and sees red for a really quite terrible tackle on Bray out on the far touchline, arriving very late and 2 footed, ending the full-back’s participation and meaning both sides play out the last few minutes a man short.

So, all in all, not a bad workout. The defence looks like it still needs some work, but encouragingly, we look like we’ve got plenty of firepower at our disposal. And the WatkinsMcBean partnership already looks very promising. We head for the exit and a rapid trip back in Windy’s flash new motor to the Hood for a couple of pre-closing time pints.

Oh well, here we go again!

TEAM: Phil Wilson, Scott Fitzgerald, Craig Tanner, Asha Hudson, John Scarborough, Paul Honey, Nick Green, Craig Watkins, Warren McBean, Stephen Oroka, Bradley Garness.  SUBS: Alan Bray, Ryan Palmer, Bashiru Alimi, Zak Graham.

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