Tonight’s midway game took me to the Taray Group Community Stadium, to see the Southern Counties East League Division 1 fixture between Larkfield & New Hythe FC and Staplehurst Monarchs FC. Both sides made their debut in the SCEFL league last year, with the home team making the play off final, before losing to Sutton Athletic.
Coming into the fixture, Larkfield & New Hythe FC sat in sixth place, with eleven points from seven league matches. Staplehurst Monarchs sat back in ninth place, but having played just five games, with two games in hand on their opponents, sitting just four points behind.
Kris Browning’s Larkfield & New Hythe side came into the game, on the back of snatching a draw away at Tooting Bec at the weekend, courtesy of a late Stuart West equaliser. Their top scorers this season, all with three goals thus far, are Stuart West, Tarik Ibrahim and Luke Burdon.
Paul Atkins’ Staplehurst Monarchs side came into the fixture on the back of a fine 0-2 away win, at Meridian VP. Bradley Large is the club’s top scorer thus far, with three goals.
The game started well, in front of a decent midweek crowd, of 161, with both sides creating chances. Staplehurst Monarchs followed their game plan, of keeping the ball on the deck, playing wide through Brad Large and John Osage, while Larkfield & New Hythe played long and wide, pushing attacks via the pace of Ibrahim, Burdon and Butler.
On 27 minutes Staplehurst Monarch’s Ryan Gill took a well hit shot from the right, which was palmed into the net by Frankie Leonard, in the Larkfield goal. The away side looked good for their lead, having taken more and more possession, as the half progressed.
Just as Staplehurst Monarchs were convinced they’d go into the break 0-1 up, Larkfield & New Hythe’s Sam Flisher played a beautiful pass through, for Stuart West to slot home and make it all square, at 1-1 at the break.
With 59 minutes on the clock, Larkfield & New Hythe moved into the lead when Luke Burdon jumped highest to head home well.
As Staplehurst pushed for an equaliser and as time ran out, in the 90th minute, Larkfield & New Hythe broke clear, with Flisher playing the ball through neatly, for Dan Lott to finish and put the result out of reach, at 3-1 to the home side.
As the final whistle blew, the home side left with the points but both teams had shown they have much to offer. Larkfield & New Hythe will feel reassured that, despite a slow start to the game, they were able to grind out three points. Staplehurst Monarchs know they gave a decent challenge today, despite coming away pointless.