A rained off tie at Colliers Wood United FC, for their Combined Counties Premier League tie with Beckenham Town tonight, led me to look for a game a bit closer to home.
This Southern Counties East Football League Division 1 fixture, was played on a wet midweek evening, under the lights at the Jubilee Sports Ground. Staplehurst Monarchs came into the tie on the back of four straight defeats, which saw them slipping towards the relegation spaces, in 15th place, just two points clear of Merdian VP, who sit just inside the danger zone in 18th place.
Staplehurst Monarch’s Sam Murray, their top scorer with 8 goals in 22 games, would be keen to add to his tally in their efforts to ensure safety in this, their first season in the SCEFL, since being promoted last year.
Greenways were comfortably placed in 13th place, some 5 points ahead of Staplehurst Monarchs FC and entering the game, looking for a third straight win. Simon Walton’s goals have been Greenways biggest threat this season, with 14 goals from 27 matches.
As on my previous visit, I had a warm welcome, from everyone at Staplehurst Monarchs. This is a true community club and there was a decent crowd of 80 in to watch the game, despite the persistent rain. I was grateful for the covered standing area as I could be close to the pitch for pictures but dry!!
The game was evenly fought, with both sides creating chances. On 23 minutes Staplehurst Monarch’s Kieran Pallet missed a golden chance to break the deadlock when he chipped the ball over, when it seemed easier to score.
At half time the scores were locked at 0-0 and the points were still in the balance for either side.
The second half seemed to be heading to end goalless too, with both Greenways and Staplehurst Monarch’s strikers squandering opportunities.
Then, in the 85th minute, Staplehurst Monarch’s top scorer, Sam Murray finished neatly with a left-footed shot, from the edge of the area, to put the home team 1-0 ahead.
Staplehurst Monarchs then tried to play the game out, declining to shoot from a decent free kick, on the edge of the box, in order to play the ball into the corners to kill time and secure what would have been an invaluable three points. They were unable to finish the game off though, as Greenways FC broke in the 90th minute, for one final chance, which Jake Lovell slid home, to make the score 1-1.
At the final whistle it was Greenways FC who went away relieved, whilst Staplehurst Monarchs will have to wait to see how costly these missed points might be in the reckoning, at the end of the season. On this form however I think both sides deserve to be in the SCeFL next season, as they played out an attacking end-to-end match, on a damp night, where conditions weren’t easy.