Whyteleafe extend their lead at the top of the table
Whyteleafe extended their lead at the top of the Southern Counties East League to five points on Saturday thanks to a 3-1 win at Phoenix Sports.
There was even better news for the Leafe faithful after Ashford, their nearest challengers for the sole promotion place, went down at Beckenham.
Leafe are five points clear of Tunbridge Wells in second, although the Kent side has played two more games, and seven clear of Ashford, who have two games in hand.
The visiting Leafe side started the match in positive mood looking or an early breakthrough.
Their fast forward running very nearly won early dividends in the seventh minute when good work from Bentley Graham let in Taylor Smith, who unleashed a fierce shot which crashed against the Phoenix upright.
The ball rebounded into Whyteleafe possession and was fed back to Smith who managed to get the ball in at the second attempt, but was ruled offside.
Leafe were creating the best chances in the opening 10 minutes with Sam Clayton and Smith both testing Dean Nash, the Phoenix goalkeeper.
The home side hit the Whyteleafe woodwork on 13 minutes when the quick and busy Enoch Adjei let in his centre forward teammate Andy Constable, his shot crashed against Sheikh Ceesay’s crossbar.
The match continued to ebb and flow with trio of Smith, Clayton and Roscoe DSane always a threat to the home defence, but Nash doing well to keep the scoreline to 0-0 until the half hour.
The opening goal came on 31 minutes as the Phoenix defence failed to deal with a Leafe corner and then made the fatal error of leaving Clayton unmarked in the ball.
With a quick mind and quick feet, Clayton gathered the ball and fired an unstoppable shop past Nash to take a deserved lead.
Phoenix were by no means out of the tie though and Ceesay was forced into making a spectacular drive from Rob Carter on 37 minutes.
The best chance at the tail end of the half though fell to Leafe though when DSane skipped past his marker and fed the ball to Jensen Grant whose shot was well charged down.
Whyteleafe were straight back on the attack after the half time break with Smith outpacing the Phoenix defence but only able to shoot wide went under pressure just 30 seconds into the half.
The home side continued to look for opening with tricky Adjei always looking a handful on the right, with the burly figure of Constable and his striking partner Rob Carter always looking to test Ceesay.
On 71 minutes they won their reward - a foul committed in a dangerous place left a free kick from the right which Constable met with some power and into the back of Ceesay’s net.
With Whyteleafe looking to win every game, a draw or worse was unimaginable and Leafe looked to get back in the driving seat as soon as they could.
In the end, the visitors retook the lead in surprising circumstances - captain Jason Thompson is no stranger to goal scoring and indeed is, after DSane, Whyteleafe's second highest scorer this season.
Almost all his goals however are pile drivers with his left foot and indeed the majority from the penalty spot.
But this was a perfect flighted shot from the outside of the box with his right foot into the top corner of the Phoenix net.
With the one goal lead the remaining 20 odd minutes were tense, and nerves were still jangling into injury time but these were settled in the end by a penalty.
Having waved away a penalty claim for handball earlier in the half, the referee was given little option but to award one on 93 minutes when his assistant signalled for a penalty for exactly the same offence.
Thompson stepped up and blasted the ball unstoppably past Nash for the final action.
Whyteleafe: Ceesay, Tommy Smith, Penfold, Hollingsworth, Merchant, Thompson, Graham, Grant (Andrews), DSane (Pitterson), Clayton, Taylor Smith.
Unused subs: Kember, Williams, Pratt.
Comments are closed on this article.