7 October 2023
Warm weather and goals galore in Week 3 of the WLVFL
The sun (once again) shone and water breaks were (once again) the order of the day as 30 sides battled it out points in Week 3 of the West London Vets’ Football League (WLVFL). The goals flew in from all angles; goodness know what George Graham would have made of it….
Ascot win the clash of the top two in the Prem
Goals were clearly the order of the day in most places, but no one at Ascot United seemed to get the memo. The first game of the weekend was a top of the table clash in the Prem between Ascot United and Croxley Green. Decent defending and profligate finishing were much more the norm there.
Croxley Green have recruited well over the summer and they will be a real force in the top flight this season. They travelled to the Racecourse Ground with both a method and a plan, and Ascot – a side that has started the campaign impressively – found them a tough nut to crack.
In the end, an early Sam McIntyre goal was enough to seal the three points (see here for a full match report on this one), although both sides had their chances and the game could quite plausibly have gone either way.
Croxley’s defeat offered the West London Rams the chance to leapfrog them and up into second place. They took the opportunity with both hands. Vinny Achampong notched after four minutes, and then again after seven before completing a speedy hat-trick with just 12 minutes on the clock. Wade McKaye added a fourth before half-time and by then the three points were well and truly in the bag.
Claygate rallied a little in the second half and got the ball in the onion bag twice themselves, but the Rams – despite missing a penalty – added a couple more of their own. 6-2, job very much done for James Wise’s boys.
With Nottsborugh off on cup duty elsewhere their game with KPR was postponed. That gave Poly the chance to manufacture some clear blue water between them and the bottom two. They got close to doing that against Whippet Wanderers, but ultimately the Whippets squeezed home by the odd goal in five.
Poly certainly went at it though, taking an early lead. Mark Dolan then made it 1-1, before Poly again got their noses in front. Neil Robinson equalled things up before scoring the decisive goal from the spot to make it 3-2 for the Whippets. The win sees the Whippets move neatly into fourth.
The final game of the day in the top flight saw Bank of England travel to Chelsea. Chelsea started off like a house on fire, racing into a four goal lead. The fact that the Bank had had to draft in a keeper probably didn’t help them there.
The visitors did nonetheless keep at it; a decent header saw them get into the goalscoring act, before Dany Cale and Farouk Ampou El Ela brought BoE to within a goal of their hosts. Dramatic 4-4 incoming? Not quite, but the Bank certainly deserve credit for keeping at it.
Goals wherever you look in Division One
We are only three games in, but Hersham Southside have already stamped their authority on Division One.
Gene Shafique’s side ultimately beat Civil Service 6-4, but after starting strongly they took their foot of the pedal and let the visitors back into things a little. For once, Steve Reddingsdidn’t dominate the scoring stats. Hersham’s star striker got one, but Julian Renner-Thomas, Steve Lewis, Adam Preece-Thomas, Nick Harrison and Tommy Keane were also in goal-scoring form.
Civils did fight back in the second half; Luis Rodrigues scored a couple of decent goals, whilst Mat Ansell and Stuart Merry both pinged in long-range efforts. The win sees Hersham three points clear at the top as they continue to look odds on for promotion. Civils, meanwhile, are sixth following two defeats in a week; they came off second best in a re-arranged game that they arguably had much the better of against Army Crusaders on 30 September.
Wandsworth Borough remain second, although with four sidesall on six points it’s hardly a decisive advantage. They’ll nonetheless be very pleased with their 8-2 triumph at a struggling West Kensington Kings (WKK).
WKK are now one of three teams without a point on the board; Double H and Old Actonians are the other two. Actionians had a week off, leaving Double H with the chance to jump into the middle of the pack. To do that they knew that they’d have to come out on top at Army Crusaders.
Double H had much the better of the early play and took the lead, before Seif Nabil levelled things up via a well-directed lob over the keeper. Ant Gailey added a second to leave the Crusaders 2-1 at half-time. Romeo Slater then robbed the keeper to make it 3-1 via a five-yard tap in, before notching another to push the Army further ahead. Double H nonetheless finished the stronger, their twinkle-toed number eight dancing his way through to notch a well-deserved consolation.
The final game of the day saw Acton Ealing Whistlers bang in eight goals at Laleham & Kempton (who themselves managed three). The 11 goals there meant that across the four games in Div 1 there were a mammoth 37 goals. The art of defending not strong in this division at the moment then!
Dewayne Carrington-Jones and Peter Hurwood both bagged a brace for the Whistlers, whilst Richard Gnaulati, Steve Martinez, Satz Mistry and Tyrone Graham also got on the scoresheet.
Ascot nudge ahead
Division Two wasn’t quite as goal-happy as Division One, but there were still 23 across the four matches that took place. Certainly not a division where spectators were going to be snoozing off.
Ascot United’s second string currently sit top of the pile. They’ve played three and won three and are now the only unbeaten side in the division.
The Yellas travelled to Latimer Road at the weekend and the hosts will probably feel a bit unlucky that they ended up coming away from the game with nothing to show for their efforts. But, if you don’t take your chances you always run the risk of being caught by a sucker punch (or three).
Andy Lunn pulled out a Van Bastan-esque volley from the right of the penalty box to set the Yellas on their way, before Adam Abusweder and Dave Thompson added two more (see here for the match report). Latimer Road certainly kept hammering on the door, but both Jamie Burgess and EyrkNawala were excellent in keeping them at bay. On a day when goals were flying in everywhere, it’s a defender and a keeper who were ultimately key players in this one.
Elsewhere Jamrock have moved into second place thanks to a 4-3 win at Bank of England IIs. It was nonetheless the Bank who started quicker, but chances went begging and before they knew it the hosts were two down, Gerald Joseph and Nick Eleftheriou scoring for Jamrock.
The Bank did, however, find their scoring boots eventually, Paul Mitchell hitting the back of the net twice and Mike Rayner adding a third. Still, Trevor Canoville and Daniel Harvey were also on the mark for Jamrock, and that meant that the visitors ultimately snuck home. On a more sombre note, poor old Nick Eleftheriou also sustained what looked like a potentially serious injury; we all wish him a speedy recovery.
Old Tiffs are level with Jamrock on six points, although they’ll be ruing missed chances as they slipped to a 4-3 defeat at home to Old Meadonians. Meads, on the other hand, will be really pleased to get their first win on the board.
The final game in this division saw Putney Vale Rangers (PVR) come to the party and finally get some points on the board. They beat Old Lyonians 3-2.
The Vale started brightly and were soon in the lead via a Chris Burl penalty. Kal Wilson continued his decent goalscoring run by adding a second before Lyonians pulled one back. Lyonians continued to look dangerous and the Vale did well to keep their imposing number nine in check.
Leroy Donald eased any PVR concerns by slotting home a second penalty of the day, meaning that a second for Lyonianscouldn’t deprive the hosts of their first three points in the league.
Xavs take the strain at Croxley
Division Three wasn’t quite the goal bonanza that was evident elsewhere, but there were still 16 goals scored in three games. Not too shabby.
Clapham Old Xaverians continue to look the side to beat. They are played three won three and four points clear of the chasing pack.
In Week 3 they made the long trek to Croxley Green IIs. Like their ones, Croxley twos look much improved on the 2022-23 vintage and despite currently being bottom of the pile they aren’t a side to be written off just yet.
Croxley certainly started off the better, but it was Xavs’ James Allen who opened the scoring, gliding in from the left to slot home. The goal certainly didn’t dampen Croxley spirits, and Xavs’ custodian, Alex Jayes, was forced to make a number ofsmart saves. Even then, his resolute work couldn’t prevent Croxley drawing level via what sounds like a calamitous own goal. Just ten minutes left and it was all to play for.
Croxley certainly went for the three points, but it was the Xavs’ talisman, Sam Emmery, who popped up and curled the ball into the bottom corner. 2-1 Xavs. And that soon became 3-1 when James Branwood scored from a tight angle. Job done for the men from south London.
Elsewhere Claygate are clear in second following a 3-3 draw against Hampton (who remain third). Decent turnarounds by both sides on their 2022-23 showings there, fair play.
The final game of the day took place between Rusilip Rangers and MMB. And, it was Ruislip who had much the better of things; they won 6-0 and registered their first three points of the campaign.
There’s no rest for the wicked in the WLVFL in October, as another full round of fixtures looms large on the weekend of 13/14 October.
Chelsea Vets may have got out of the blocks this season in uncharacteristically slow fashion, but even then they are still unbeaten and will be looking forward to their clash with high-flying Ascot United. One to keep an eye on.
Croxley will be looking to get back to winning ways when they host Kew Park Rangers, whilst both the Bank of England and Whippet Wanderers will be hoping to get three points out of their encounter.
In Division One the Hersham juggernaught will look to carry on its merry way against Army Crusaders. None of the four sides on six points in second place play each other meaning there’s a scenario where by Saturday evening four sides could have nine points whilst three sides remain without a point on the board at all. It’ll be interesting to see if that pans out as the pundits might expect.
Ascot United IIs will be looking to extend their lead at the top of Div 2; they host third placed Old Tiffs on Friday night. Second placed Jamrock will be watching that one with interest before they travel to play Putney Vale Rangers on Saturday afternoon.
Old Lyonians are also on the road and indeed they are likely to be playing right next door to Latimer Road and BoE IIs; Lyonians are at Duke’s Meadow to lock horns with Old Meadonians.
Ruislip Rangers are the team tasked with trying to take the first points of the campaign off Clapham Old Xaverians. They travel to South London to see what they can do. Croxley are also on the road; they go to Sunbury to play AFC Hampton. And, MMB and Molesey Lighthouse lock horns in the final game of the weekend.
Go well everyone.