For today’s game I travelled a short distance from home, to see a much anticipated Southern Counties East League Division 1 clash between two of the early high fliers.
Larkfield & New Hythe FC were founded 45 years ago and have made a rapid rise in recent years through the Kent league structure, to the point where they were admitted for their inaugural season in the Southern Counties East Football league, for this the 2021-22 season. Since arriving in the league, they have blazed forward and sit after seven games, in third place with 13 points. Brett Ince has top scored for Larkfield & New Hythe with four goals from seven games, while Charlie Smith is sitting just a goal behind, with three from seven.
The Taray Group Community Stadium has had lots of recent investment. It boasts a covered seating stand and a covered standing stand. The pitch is grass and there is a refreshment stand and clubhouse. Match day entrance cost £5.00 and “the Larks” programme was good value at £2.00. There was a decent crowd of around 100 in to see the game.
Lewisham Borough had a good 2-0 win in the Lewisham derby in midweek against Forest Hill Park FC. They came into the game in fifth place. Lewisham Borough have their own goal machine, in Bryan Zepo, with a four goals in four games record so far.
The game opened with both sides playing attractive passing football. After seven minutes, Larkfield scored from a corner, with the Lewisham keeper, Claudio Boakye, being forced to push the ball into his own net.
On 18 minutes, Larkfield’s captain Stuart West, was sent off for a deliberate handball on the goal line, leading to a penalty.
Lewisham’s Amponsha missed the penalty, forcing a decent save from the Larkfield keeper, Nathan Carter.
On 30 minutes the number 8 for Lewisham Borough, Kai-Simon Jordan, scored with a well placed finish, from the edge of the Larkfield penalty area.
Larkfield began making some very heavy challenges and you could sense the friction between the players and also between players and officials, growing. It began to feel a bit desperate as Lewisham went all out in attack, to take advantage of the extra player and Larkfield looked a little vulnerable, as they adjusted to losing a key player.
The second half started with both teams playing cautiously. Larkfield looked to have found a better shape with their ten men and on 65 minutes Larkfield went 2-1 ahead, after a fine finish by Charlie Smith.
The friction between players and officials tumbled on when the Lewisham number 4, Montel Williams, was sin-binned for dissent on 78 minutes. Larkfield put the Lewisham goal under intense pressure and looked as if they would stretch their lead further.
Then out of the blue, in the 81st minute, a freak cross shot from the left looped over the keeper’s head and into the goal. As you can see from the clip the unlikely route to score caught me out as much as the Larkfield keeper.
Lewisham and Larkfield had golden chances in the final 5 minutes but, as the final whistle blew, both teams left the pitch knowing they could have won this game, despite the final 2-2 score-line.