This fixture, played on a cold Saturday at the end of a freezing month, which had seen so much disruption to the non league fixture schedule, took me close to home to see a Southern Counties East Football League, Division 1, match. The home side and tenants at the Cobdown, traditionally the home of K Sports, were Greenways FC, who were promoted to this league, for their first taste of Step 6 football, as recently as 2018.
Greenways sat sixth in the league, coming into the fixture, with 28 points from 19 fixtures, just outside the play off places. Tom Reardon’s 12 goals to date, in the campaign, have helped Greenways to a positive start to the season although manager, Rob Jeffrey will have been disappointed to see his side lose narrowly away at Faversham Strike Force in their last fixture.
Manager Kris Browning’s Larkfield & New Hythe team came into the game riding high, with second place in the SCEFL Division 1 table. Luke Burdon (9 goals) and Stuart West (6 goals) have top scored for the away side, however an unexpected away defeat, in their last match, at SC Thamesmead, has dropped them off the top spot, which the Larks will definitely have wanted to reclaim.
1. Aaron Wharton 2. Sam Flisher. 3. Fin O’Shea 4. Lewis Mingle. 5. Jack Bray. 6. Brett Ince. 7. Clark Woodcock 8. Antonio Gonnella. 9. Ky Lightfoot. 10. Luke Leppard. 11. Charlie Smith Subs: Daniel Lott, Jack West, George Benner, Jacob Feasey, Matt Day
The game opened with both sides defending well and each attack being well blunted and shepherded. As early as the fifteenth minute the game came alive when Greenways had a decent shout for a penalty turned down after a late challenge in the Larkfield & New Hythe penalty area. Then in the 19th minute, a challenge on the mercurial Charlie Smith, for Larkfield & New Hythe, left him with an ankle injury, that led to an early substitution.
In the 33rd minute, Larkfield & New Hythe broke away and a fine cross from the left put Greenways defenders under pressure, with Ross Penrose slicing the ball past his own goalkeeper, to put the away side 0-1 ahead.
Despite some fine pressure from Greenways and a lot of running by Tambe Blijaets, the score remained 0-1 to Larkfield & New Hythe at the break.
The second half saw both sides creating chances, with Greenways Captain, Andy Pierce, managing his back line well to keep the Larkfield attack at bay. Larkfield & New Hythe’s Luke Leppard kept the midfield line strong for the away team, making sure they controlled much of the possession, in what was a very competitive and hard fought half.
In time added on, Larkfield & New Hythe extended their lead, with a well struck free kick, from Ky Lightfoot, looping over the keeper to make it 0-2.
At the final whistle, it was Larkfield & New Hythe who took all three points, sending them to the top of the league. There was some confrontation at the final whistle and a red card was issued to a Greenways player, following comments made to the referee.