Whyteleafe forced into FA Cup replay
1:15pm Monday 19th August 2013 in Non-League
by Chris Layton
Whyteleafe surrendered a two-goal lead as Epsom & Ewell forced them into an FA Cup extra preliminary round replay with a 3-3 draw.
Jensen Grant, Jason Thompson and Gareth Williams had put them 3-1 up by half-time, but a strong second-half showing from the visitors means a replay on Wednesday night will decide who faces Croydon in the next round.
It was an enthralling FA Cup encounter between two sides who hadn’t met for a few years.
There was no shortage of goals and the number of chances squandered, particularly by the home side, meant the goal tally could have been far higher.
In truth Whyteleafe will be kicking themselves that they did not win straight through to the next round and now have to travel to Chipstead (where Epsom & Ewell now play) on Wednesday night to do it all over.
Whyteleafe peppered the visitors’ goal early on. Within the first four minutes, Taylor Smith had had a good shot blocked and Bentley Graham had fired a powerful effort straight at Kieron Campbell in the Epsom goal.
On 16 minutes, Smith was through on goal having outpaced his marker and shot wide with the just the keeper to beat.
Leafe had to wait just two minutes to get their noses ahead when a corner from Graham was met perfectly by Jenson Grant at the near post, his header giving Campbell absolutely no chance.
Graham really should have double the lead for Whyteleafe on the half hour. He managed to get himself between the Epsom defence and their keeper when meeting the ball, he tried to dink over Campbell but the keeper managed to parry away the effort.
Whyteleafe were rueing this just two minutes later when Epsom’s Freddie Myers broke free down the left and fired a sensational shot over Dave Wilkinson to even the scores.
Within six minutes though, Whyteleafe had retaken the lead and then added to their tally.
Taylor Smith’s pace was proving far too much for the Epsom defence, he raced through on 36 minutes and Campbell was late with his challenge bringing the lightning paced striker down. Jason Thompson fired home the resulting penalty with his usual finesse.
Just a minute later it was Gareth Williams’ turn. Some brilliant footwork saw him dribble past two defenders and then shoot straight and hard into the net.
The visitors had their share of possession in the first half, but for the goal they rarely seemed to trouble the Leafe defence. That was to change during the second half.
Six minutes after the restart Epsom’s Carl Hough virtually walked the ball into the net as Leafe made three attempts at tackling him each one missing. Hough had the simple job of passing the ball past Wilkinson.
Another six minutes passed and Epsom were on level pegging. Again the Leafe defenders failed to deal with the attack and this time substitute Reece Jackson was on hand to prod home a simple effort.
Whyteleafe went back on the offensive after this but a string of good attacks failed to win the game.
Gareth Williams was fed a good ball by Taylor Smith on 70 minutes but this went wide. The pair combined well eight minutes later, Smith heading on to Williams whose turn and shot looked sublime but was well parried by Campbell.
Defender Adam Broomhead took the initiative on 82 minutes bounding forward and feeding the ball to fellow substitute Mark Hynes in the box, Hynes unselfishly fed the ball to Williams and his strike went an inch over the bar.
Hynes shrugged off a marker inside the box three minute later and Campbell managed to get a fingertip to the dipping shot which hit the top of the bar and over.
Campbell really was the hero of the day for Epsom & Ewell. A melee in the box from the resulting corner ended when Tommy Smith smashed the ball bound for the back of the net but somehow the visiting keeper’s reactions were spot on saving the ball from almost point-blank range.
This was the last meaningful attack and the two teams meet again in the week with Croydon FC waiting to find out who their visitors will be in the next round.
Whyteleafe team: Wilkinson, Pratt, Tommy Smith, Leacock, Abraham (Broomhead), Thompson, Headley (Fowler), Grant, Taylor Smith (Hynes), Williams, Graham. Unused subs: Read, David.
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