This local derby in the Southern Counties East League Division 1, also reflected two of the teams expected to challenge for promotion coming together. As regular readers will know the SCEFL league Division 1 is one of my favourite leagues to watch and these two sides are some of the more attack minded and entertaining sides in the league.
The Potyn’s Field Stadium has been much developed since my first visit, two years ago. A new clubhouse with a bar and seating, has been built, with additional covered outside bar and seating provision being added. The ground has a grass pitch and high quality floodlighting, with a covered grandstand with seating for 75.
Snodland have made a mixed start to the season, with a 5-2 win against much fancied FC Elmstead, in their opening game, being balanced by a surprise 2-1 defeat in the following match, away at Meridian VP. Goals haven’t been hard to come by for Snodland with Rob Denness top scoring with two goals from two games. They have, a little more worryingly, conceded four goals in two games, so were coming into this game knowing they had to be stronger defensively, against a side everyone believes will be challenging for the title.
There is some history going into this game, as it was Larkfield & New Hythe who I witnessed at their Taray Community Stadium, putting Snodland Town out of the promotion play offs, at the semi final stage, last April. That game attracted a record crowd for Larkfield & New Hythe FC of 500, so it was no surprise to see a crowd of 502 for tonight’s game, despite the storm predicted.
Larkfield & New Hythe had a high flying first season at Step 6. They narrowly missed out on promotion, being beaten in the SCEFL Division 1 play off final, at the London Hire Stadium in April, against Sutton Athletic. This season they have continued their aspiration to take the club higher, with an opening 1-0 victory at home to Meridian VP and then an even more impressive 2-0 defeat of another well fancied side, Sporting Club Thamesmead. Their defence has started with a 100% record, which as any experienced officianado of the SCEFL will know, is a huge achievement. Larkfield & New Hythe’s defence were looking to the challenge of dealing with a strong attack, in an away derby, against a big rival tonight, as a sign that this year they will be title challengers, without having to rely on the play offs.
The game opened with both sides pushing to attack and it was no surprise when, in the 4th minute, Larkfield & New Hythe went ahead through a well struck free kick from distance by Brett Ince.
Two minutes later Snodland had a chance cleared off line and then Rob Denness blazed the ball over, when in with only the Larkfield & New Hythe keeper to beat. It was then, no surprise when, in the 12th minute, Snodland equalised after Rob Denness rose, to head home his third goal in three games and make the score 1-1.
Snodland Town continued to create pressure and almost immediately, in the 17th minute, a penalty was awarded to the home team, after a rash challenge in the penalty area. The penalty was cleanly converted, by Ben Davisson, to put the home side 2-1 up.
This tipsy turbo game swing back towards the away side, when just minutes later, in the 22nd minute, Larkfield & New Hythe’s Tariq Ibrahim dribbled skilfully into the area, before firing into the roof of the Snodland Town net, to level the scores at 2-2. The scores stayed tied at the halftime break,
The second half was the opposite of the first, with both teams finding clear cut chances rare and much of the game being fought out in midfield. Larkfield & New Hythe did have a golden opportunity to win the game when Tariq Ibrahim missed, sliding in on a well crossed ball, just as the game moved into additional time.
At full time both sides went away with a deserved point and the crowd clapped both teams appreciatively. This was a really high quality and entertaining match played out at a great ground in front of a big crowd. I will keep an eye on both these teams throughout the season as I am sure they will be in the mix for promotion, come April.