9 March 2023
West London Vets’ League Weekly Review
Tiffs’ second string spring a surprise
February turns to March and the rains arrive. That didn’t stop 15 games from being played in the West London Vets’ League (WLVL) over the weekend of 3rd/4th March.
Ascot United’s 1st XI weren’t, however, called into action; their game against Kew Park Rangers had to be postponed. That meant that the weekend’s fun and festivities kicked off on Friday night when the Yellas’ second strong hosted Old Tiffs’ 2s. A veritable ding, dong doo of a game it was, too (see here for a fuller report).
The hosts dominated the first half and we’re scratching their heads as to how as half-time approached they were only 2-0 up. The impressive Phil White grabbed both the goals. Tiffs then pulled one back before half-time and suddenly the game changed.
Ascot may well have continued to have (much) more of the ball, but Tiffs were resolute in defence and ever more dangerous on the break. Jed Butcher then scored two wonder goals (to complete an impressive hat-trick) and suddenly Tiffs were 3-2 up. Ascot hammered at the door, but nothing doing as Tiffs scored a famous away win.
All square at Chelsea
Come Saturday there was no doubt where the game of the day was. King’s House in Chiswick as Chelsea Vets hosted West London Rams. A rip-roaring affair ultimately ended all square with both sides hitting the back of the net four times. Points shared.
The draw leaves Chelsea three points clear of the Rams. Both sides have six games left but Chelsea still need to travel to both WLR and indeed Sporting Kitz. There could well still be life in this title race yet.
Kitz did their bit to keep in touch with the top two, winning comfortably (6-0) at Croxley. That means Kitz are now level on points with the Rams, but they have played two games more. They aren’t out of it, but no slips allowed if they are really going to get up and beyond Chelsea Vets.
The final game in the Prem was what is a rarely spotted beast in Vets’ football; a goalless draw. The result helps neither of the sides involved massively; Poly remained bottom on the back of that whilst Nottsborough are two points above them (having played a game more). The real winners there are probably Kew Park Rangers (third bottom and two points ahead of Nottsborough).
Laleham & Kempton shock league leaders
Division 1 was threatening to get all too predictable. Until Laleham & Kempton well and truly threw the cat in the amongst the pigeons with a demolition of runaway leaders Claygate Royals Hares. They won 6-2.
That win helps Laleham & Kempton move clear of the relegation slots, and it also gives hope to Claygate’s chasers. Whippet Wanderers are now just the four points behind Claygate and the two sides are scheduled to meet (at Claygate) on 22 April. Could be a very interesting encounter.
Back in the here and now, the Whippets came through a tricky encounter at Jamrock Steppa unscathed. In truth, Wanderers had things under control pretty quickly; three up after 25 minutes and more or less on cruise control mode. Greg Leech and a couple from Jamie Grainger-Smith did the business there.
Jamrock, to their credit, fought back in the second half and at 3-2 squeaky bum time was definitely on the horizon. But, a bombastic effort from Shaun Lydon ultimately saw the Whippets home.
Elsewhere, Actonians are now well and truly cemented in third place. They are six points clear of any potential suitors. They got past a resolute Old Tiffs 2-1 at the weekend and are subsequently looking all set for that play-off berth.
Civils and Wandsworth Borough served up some crackingfare when they met, but the 2-2 draw ultimately does little for the promotion hopes of either. Tim Morgan, Civils’ talisman, certainly had an eventful day; he scored his first goal of the season to put them 1-0 up but soon after tore an abductor and will now be sitting out the rest of the season.
The Borough soon came back into things, producing a terrific goal to bring the scores level. As the game moved into the second half Civils responded, Jeff Arnold – via a blocked clearance that went in off his derriere – put Civils back in front. With 15 minutes left Wandsworth scored (another) good goal to make it 2-2 and indeed more chances (for both sides) came and went. 2-2 it nonetheless ended.
Topsy-turvy stuff in Div 2
Even though there are only 9 teams in Division Two five games took place on Saturday. Why? Army Crusaders and Lighthouse Molesey were in double-header action.
It turned out to be quite the contest, too. Army Crusaders went into the games with a bare 11 and that again included two players in the 60 plus category. Being in the British army evidently leads to you being super fit even well after you’ve stopped serving on the front line.
Within five minutes one of those Crusader sexagenarians (google it, it’s nowhere near as exciting as you might think), Andy Campbell, harried a defender into a mistake and an own goal ensued. Crusaders 1-0 up. Jimmy Parke and Stu Lewis then added two more and by half-time game one was looking done and dusted for the Army. Parke then added another whilst Sarun Gurung made it five; 5-1 and three points incoming for the Crusaders.
The second game was an altogether different matter. The game was ultimately cut a little short before ending 1-1. Lighthouse took the lead following a goal mouth scramble before Stu Lewis equalised.
Elsewhere MMB are clearly on a roll. They won (again) and are looking odds on to pull off a great escape and avoid the drop. They beat Old Lyonians 3-0. Jody Lee, Ollie Whiteford (pen) and Dave Young got the goals.
Old Meadonians are another side in decent form. They are now fourth following an impressive 4-1 win against Bank of England IIs. Joe Garner bagged for the latter. Old Tens’ won the final game in the division this week, they beat promotion-chasing Double H 1-0.
All that leaves Hillingdon in a very strong position at the top, but goodness knows what’s going to happen elsewhere (both in terms of promotion and relegation). Good sides are wobbling, poorer performers are picking up. Fascinating stuff.
Goal fests in Div 3
With Ascot and Tiffs playing on Friday night that left just the two games in Division Three on Saturday. Neither was lacking in goals.
Hersham Southside continued their relentless march towards promotion with a 6-2 win against AFC Hampton. A feisty encounter was ultimately decided via four Steve Reddings’ strikes and a couple from Julian Renner-Thomas.
Clapham Old Xaverians were the other big winners; they got past Claygate Royals Hounds and subsequently moved up into fourth place. Direct promotion may be beyond them, but the third placed play-off spot is certainly up for grabs. Latimer Road and Croxley are the other two sides most obviously in the mix for that.
The weekend of 10/11 March sees five games on the radar. First up are the small matter of two cup semi-finals. The two big hitters left in the competition (West London Rams and Ascot United) have drawn each other and they meet over in Leatherhead on Saturday. Originally, Sporting Kitz were scheduled to play Whippet Wanderers in the other game, but Kitz unwittingly fielded a suspended player in the QF so that’s left the door open for Wandsworth Borough to go through. Whichever way the games go, it’ll subsequently be a Prem v Div 1 final.
Elsewhere, there’s a few catch-up games taking place. Chelsea host KPR in the Prem. If KPR can get anything like their first XI out then it’ll be a decent game. If availability problems hit, then expect Chelsea at a canter.
Top-of-the-table Hillingdon Abbots are in action in Div 2, they travel to Old Tens. Paul Gladstone’s side face a real challenge there, but with the relegation trapdoor beckoning Tens will hope that they can get something out of the game.
Finally, there’s a game at the Racecourse Ground in Ascot on Friday night. AUFC IIs host Latimer Road. HershamSouthside might well be following that one with some interest – if Ascot win then Southside will become the first side this season to be mathematically promoted.
Go well everyone!