14 October 2023
Land of Surprises
Week 4 in the West London Vets’ League (WLVFL) proved to be the week when the fast starters – with one notable exception – all had their wings clipped. Before Saturday getting on for half a dozen teams across the four divisions had 100 per cent records. Now, it’s Acton Ealing Whistlers (Division One) who are last men standing.
Chelsea bounce back
The big clash in the Prem was between Chelsea Veterans and Ascot United. Both sides were unbeaten, although Chelsea had had a couple of draws along the way. The irresistible force against the immovable object? Not quite.
Ascot certainly had a lot of the ball, but giving Chelsea a three-goal head start did little for their chances. A good free kick, a neatly glanced header and a penalty saw the hosts three up in half an hour. Ian Davies pulled one back as the Yellashurled the proverbial kitchen sink at their hosts, but it was to no avail. 3-1 it ended.
Although Ascot lost, they are still top of the pile. Chelsea area point behind, with West London Rams – who didn’t play this weekend – in third. Three teams (Bank of England, Croxley Green and Whippet Wanderers) follow them, all on six points.
The Bank jumped into the gaggle of chasers thanks to a 4-3 triumph over the Whippets. The game sounds like it was a decidedly lively encounter with a Whippets’ red card and two BoE penalties – both converted by Farouk Ampou El Ela – in the first half. Neil Robinson and Lloyd Page were also the scoresheet for the visitors in the first half, and all that came together to mean that the Bank were 3-2 up after a breathless 45 minutes.
Despite being a man down the Whippets nonetheless remained dangerous on the break. It subsequently wasn’t a massive surprise when Tim Muir brought things back to 3-3. It was only late on that the Bank made the extra man tell, Danny Lessey Edwards nodding in the winner.
Elsewhere, Kew Park Rangers will be really pleased with their 4-1 win at Croxley. That’s the first three points that KPR have pocketed this season. The final game of the day saw Poly also register their first win of the campaign. They beat Claygate Royals Hares 3-2.
Crusaders surprise Hersham
Hersham Southside remain top of the pile in Division One, and that even though they were held at home by Army Crusaders.
The Army were originally picking from a squad of 18 but, as is often the way in Vets’ football, that was down to 13 by kick off time. The Crusaders started quickly with Ali Beard blocking a clearance by the Hersham keeper into the net to give them the lead. Ant Gailey then made it two from all of three yards following a corner. The Crusaders looked like they were in the mood.
Hersham, however, bounced back impressively in the second half. The ageless Stevie Lewis pulled one goal back before Steve Reddings made it 2-2 with around ten minutes left on the clock. The Crusaders weren’t, however, for budging and they held on for a hard-earned point.
Hersham’s slip helped both Wandsworth Borough and Acton Ealing Whistlers close the gap on them to one point. The Borough won 2-0 courtesy of a walkover against Actonians,the Whistlers won 5-4 in an entertaining contest against Double H.
The Whistlers weren’t at full strength, but they will still have hoped to have had an easier time against a winless Double H. But, Double H found themselves 3-2 up at one point and it looked for a while like a major shock might be on the cards.
Ultimately a couple apiece from Paul Skuse and Peter Hurwood plus one by skipper Scott Calvert saw Acton-Ealing go 5-3 up, but even then Double H pulled a late goal back to ensure some squeaky bum time at the end for the hosts.
The final game in this division saw Laleham & Kempton draw 2-2 with West Kensington Kings. That represents the Kings’ first point of the season and moves them out of the relegation zone. Laleham and Kempton have seven points and are snuggled in nicely behind the pace-setters in fourth.
Tiffs batten down the hatches
The unpredictability virus also came and paid a visit to Division Two on Saturday. That became apparent on Friday night at the Racecourse Ground in Ascot, where Old Tiffinians held the Yellas’ second string to a 1-1 draw.
Ascot dominated possession, but only had a second half strike from Andy Lunn to show for their efforts. Tiffs sat back and contented themselves with hitting Ascot on the break. And, indeed, that they did, equalising with 15 minutes left. Ascot gambled, chucked more or less everything forward, but to no avail. 1-1 it ended.
Jamrock are the side now closest to Ascot. They won 2-1 at Putney Vale Rangers (PVR). PVR had one of those days where things just keep going wrong. Losing a player in the warm up never helps, and having a centre half go off injured 15 minutes in hardly improved things.
PVR nonetheless kept at it and with the score 1-1 at half-time they were still very much in the game. Having (yet) another player go lame complicated things further and with PVR at the bare 11 a long second 45 looked likely. Cue the second of their two centre halves twisting his ankle and the hosts were now down to ten men. It never rains but it pours.
Jamrock took advantage of that and went 2-1 up, but Alan Hale, Chris Burl and Jamie Nicholls all went close as PVR tried to snatch a point. To no avail, 2-1 it ended.
Old Meads and Latimer Road were also able to record decent wins. Meads beat a struggling Old Lyonians 6-0, Latimer Road beat Bank of England IIs 4-3. The latter contest was a cracker with decent goals flying in from all angles. Nicolas Joseph and Edward Mathurin started things off positively for Latimer Road as they raced into a two goal lead.
If, however, you don’t make the most of your chances then football can come back to bite you on the derriere. The Bank responded and soon drew level, a bosting free kick from Ben Pierre really catching the eye before Mark Boakeye added a second. Midfield dynamo Paul Stuart put Latimer Road back in front, but another super Bank strike (this time from Han Cho) meant it was quickly 3-3.
The final word, however, went to Marc Salaabi who dribbled impressively down the left before firing home from the edge of the box. 4-3, the points go to Latimer Road. Definitely ‘first game on Match of the Day’ territory here.
Ruislip shock Xavs
The surprises continued all the way into Division Three. Clapham Old Xaverians have been the powerhouses of the division so far, but they came a cropper to Ruislip Rangers.
Xavs have traditionally been stronger at home than they have been away, but a well-drilled Ruislip side matched them toe-to-toe on Saturday and came out worthy 3-2 winners.
All of the goals came in the second half, with Rangers managing to come out on top even though they missed a penalty before the break. They surged ahead in the second period, and not even goals from Luke Roszkowski, rising like a salmon to head in a James Branwood cross, and Dave Davies were enough to save the day for the hosts. Ruislip hung on and move up into second place in the ladder.
Molesey Lighthouse were the other winners in Division Three. They travelled to MMB and came home with three points in their back pocket. The game was a tight one, Lighthouse ultimately bagging the only goal of the contest.
Looking ahead, three Supervets games are taking place on 21 October, plus half a dozen cup games.
Acton Ealing Whistlers welcome Nottsborough in the preliminary round of the league cup, whilst five ties are taking place in the League Vase (for sides in Divisions 2 and 3). The pick of the pack there looks like it’s Croxley Green IIs – a side never to be underestimated – travelling to the ever-unpredictable Jamrock.
Go well everyone.