14 February 2023
West London Vets’ League Review
Saturday 12 February was cup quarter-final day in the West London Vets’ League (WLVFL). All four ties took place, and one went all the way to penalties. Indeed, there were four (!) penalties in the Army Crusaders v Whippet Wanderers game even before they got to the dreaded penalty shoot-out.
Alongside the cup action four league games were also on the agenda, one each in the Prem and Division Three and two in Division Two.
All four League Cup ties had the potential for intrigue, but it’s fair to say that the TV cameras would have got most value out of the Army Crusaders (Div 2) v Whippet Wanderers (Div 1) encounter. Ten goals, four penalties …. and then even more penalties to finally sort out who’d go through to the semi-finals.
Crusaders certainly started the better and they were two goals to the good within 15 minutes. Seif Nabli got the both of them. Wanderers then got on the score sheet, before Nabil restored the two gaol lead and completed his hat-trick via the first converted penalty of the day. Another goal apiece saw a breathless first half end 4-2.
It might ordinarily have been hard to match such a pulsating 45 minutes but ten minutes of Crusader madness in the second period saw the Whippets turn everything round and surge into a 5-4 lead. That included a couple of penalties followed by a bit of dithering on the edge of the box to allow the Whippets to sneak ahead.
Wanderers dug in and looked set to edge home but Seif then surged through and slid the ball past the keeper … only to see it hit the post and roll along the line before being hacked away by a defender. Goal? The referee wasn’t sure and given that the man in black was in two minds, well, it had to be ‘no goal’.
The Crusaders nonetheless kept coming and just as time was threatening to get the better of them they got (yet another) penalty. Steve King kept his nerve and 5-5 it subsequently ended.
So, another shoot-out for the Crusaders it was then (they beat Claygate Royals Hares via one in the last round), although this time luck wasn’t on their side. The Whippets made no mistake with their spot-kicks; they scored each of their first three. Indeed, three was all they needed … as the Crusaders had one kick saved before then blazing two over the bar. 3-0 and the Whippets are through to fly the Division One flag in the semi-finals.
Three Prem sides join the Whippets
Elsewhere, Ascot United made their way into the semi-finalsthanks to a 4-2 triumph against Hersham Southside.
Southside are flying high in Division Three and they came into the game quietly confident that they’d be able to cause an upset against their Premier Division opponents. Both sides can play good football, but in truth there wasn’t a great deal of it in evidence at Spelthorne Sports at the weekend.
Both Mark Smith (Hersham Southside) and Eryk Nawala (Ascot United) made some good saves, but it was ultimately good work in front of goal from Adam Moroney and Rob Saunders (two goals apiece) that proved the difference between the sides. Steve Reddings did also bag two for the hosts, but it was the side from Berkshire that went through.
Sporting Kitz were the third side to make it through, they came out 3-1 winners against Wandsworth Borough. Wandsworth battled gamely, but injuries along the way did them few favours. They’ll now go back to trying to charge up Division One and into the promotion mix.
The game that for many looked the tie of the round involved Chelsea Vets and West London Rams. It was a tight affair, and ultimately just the one goal was needed to win it. West London Rams scored that and subsequently dumped the league leaders out of the competition.
Around the League
Elsewhere, Kew Park Rangers (KPR) came through in theirpremier division encounter with Bank of England. The Bank never quite got going, and that despite a top notch penalty save from their debutant ‘keeper, Steve Davis (no, not that one!). Ali Ampou El Ela managed to bag for the hosts, but Jason Hope responded with two for KPR …. before then missing the penalty that would have been his hat-trick. Still, Hope now has 7 of KPR’s 10 league goals this campaign; clearly a man to keep an eye on.
There were two home wins in Division Two, Old Lyoniansdefeating Old Tenisonians (2-0) and Old Meadonians coming out on top against Double H. Meads will be particularly pleased with the win, it’s rocketed them out of the relegation zone and into sixth place. Lyonians will also be happy. They are now second, level on points with first placed Hillingdon Abbots.
The final game of the weekend came in Division Three. Latimer Road Vets have been performing well, but Old Tiffs 2nds ran them very close at the weekend. Latimer Road ultimately came through 3-2, but had Old Tiffs converted their chances then it could all have been quite different. Nigel White and Jed Butcher were on target for Tiffs. They stay 7th, a point ahead of AFC Hampton and four behind Claygate Royals Hounds.
15 games are scheduled for the weekend of 17-19 February. Ascot United and Chelsea Vets get the ball rolling. They meet at the Racecourse Ground on Friday night. Both sides will be well aware that a win for Chelsea will help them cement their place at the top and indeed that a win for Ascot United will blow the title race wide open. The bar will be open should anyone fancy popping down to watching the WLVFL’s undoubted game of the weekend.
Elsewhere, WLR will be looking to keep in touch with the top two when they entertain Bank of England. Sporting Kitz will be thinking much the same when Nottsborough roll into town. KPR will be looking to build on last week’s win they set off up north to visit Croxley.
In Division One Claygate Royals Hares will be looking to build on their six point lead at the top when they host Laleham & Kempton. The visitors are currently third bottom so will be conscious that they need to get more points on the board to avoid potentially falling into a relegation play off.
Second placed Old Actonians are off to Wandsworth Borough whilst the third placed Whippets host fourth placed Civil Service. Fifth placed West Kensington Kings v Old Tiffs is the fourth and final fixture in Div 1 at the weekend.
Seven games across Divs 2 and 3
Army Crusaders will be looking to use their impressive cup run as a springboard to better things in the league. They have games in hand, but they’ll be conscious that points on the board would be preferable. Whether they can take any off top-of-the-table Hillingdon remains to be seen.
Second placed Old Lyonians will be looking to clip the wings of an improving Old Meadonians whilst bottom of the table MMB host Old Tenisonians. The final game in the division sees third play fourth when Double H welcome Lighthouse Molesey.
Finally, there are three games in Division Three on Saturday. With Ascot United 2s’ game at Clapham Old Xavs postponed until 25 March, Hersham Southside can leap seven points clear if they beat Old Tiffs at Spelthorne Sports. Latimer Road will be able to close the gap to second to just two points if they can win at bottom of the table AFC Hampton. That having been said, Hampton have been much better at home this year (only lost once) than they have been away; Latimer Road will do well not to take them lightly.
The last fixture of the weekend sees the improving Claygate Royals Hounds off to Croxley? On paper a tough gig for the visitors, but, well, they have definitely been on the up of late.
Go well everyone.