23 September 2023
The piping hot weather of Week 1 moved on and a sense of normality returned to proceedings in Week 2 of the WLVFL. That normality, however, didn’t mean that everything went to plan results-wise on Saturday. There were a few shocks about….
Chelsea Slip Up
The first of those shocks came in the Prem where Chelsea Vets, perennial title challengers, were held to a 2-2 draw at Poly. Given that Chelsea also drew in Week One (in a decidedly mad-cap contest with West London Rams) that means Tommy Williams’s side are in the rather unusual position of going into Week 3 without a league win to their name this season.
Poly, meanwhile, will be pleased to get up and running in terms of points on the board. Definitely a case of a point won rather than two points lost there.
Two of the ten sides in the top flight have managed to win both of their opening games; Ascot United and Croxley Green. However, only one (or indeed perhaps neither) will be played three won three….they meet at the Racecourse Ground in Week 3.
In terms of Week 2, both managed to win 2-1. Ascot came through a tight contest with Bank of England just about on the right side of things. Stuart Tanfield put the Yellas ahead, but it was ultimately a late Mike Tomlinson strike that was the difference between the sides (see here for a full match report). Whether the former Burnham player was shooting or crossing need not detain us any longer here….
The fixture calendar threw up two home fixtures in the first two weeks for Croxley and they’ve made the most of that. They beat Claygate 2-1 on 9 September and they repeated that scoreline against Nottsborough on 23 September.
The other two games in the division were much more one-sided. Whippet Wanderers started out with a 3-1 win against Kew Park Rangers in Week 1, but West London Rams – perhaps with something to prove after drawing their first game – steamrollered them in Week 2.
Given that the two sides played out the WLVFL Cup Final in May a(nother) close game was expected. WLR clearly had other ideas with Wade McKaye helping himself to four goals and Vinny Achampong bagging a brace. The Whippets’ Billy Disanjh did manage to get one goal back, but in the great scheme of things it meant little as the game ended 12-1.
“It was a terrible performance by us” mused the Whippets’ Gary Stenton afterwards. No choice but to move on and simply forget about it.
The final game of the division saw Claygate get their first points on the board. They travelled to Kew Park Rangers and came home 9-2 victors. It’s (very) early days but that sees them leap up to fourth place in the nascent table.
Hersham Southside looking good in Div 1
Just the three games were scheduled in Division One, and one of those unfortunately ended up with a walkover. Laleham and Kempton were awarded a 2-0 win as Double H couldn’t fulfil the fixture.
Pre-season favourites, Hersham Southside, are the only other side with six points on the board. They came out 3-0 winners against Old Actonians. Entirely predictably Steve Reddings was in the goals, bagging a hat-trick. It sounds like Hersham’s star marksman could have had quite a few more on top of that, too…..
Acton Ealing Whistlers didn’t play in Week 1, so they made their seasonal entrance in Week 2. They travelled to Wandsworth Borough. Both sides will be hoping that they are much nearer the top than the bottom of the table come April, and that was reflected in a close game. The Whistlers ultimately edged it 3-2.
It was Wandsworth who initially had the advantage, taking the lead early on. Rich Gnaulati then equalised before Martin Pates crossed the ball into the net, sorry, scored a worldy from outside the box. The ever-lively Dewayne Carrington-Jones was then fouled in the box leaving Paul Skuse to make it 3-1 at half-time.
The Borough fought back in the second half. They pulled it back to 3-2 and that led to a bit of a tense finale. The Whistlers held out though and claim the three points.
Ascot and Tiffs looking good in Div 2
As is the case in both the Prem and Div 1, two sides in Division 2 have won both of their opening games; Old Tiffinians and Ascot United’s 2nd XI will both be very pleased with the way that 2023-24 has started.
The Yellas welcomed Bank of England IIs to Berkshire on Friday 22nd September. Ascot United started well and quickly went 3-0 up. The Bank nonetheless dug in, and were good value for the goal they scored just before half-time.
The hosts nonetheless kicked on in the second half, Ben Spence bagging a couple, Paul Woodford pinging one in from outside the box and the Erling Haaland look-a-like, Jez Myhan, firing in another. The game ultimately ended 7-2 (the full match report can be seen here).
Tiffs were involved in a much closer contest. They won a seven goal thriller against new boys Putney Vale Rangers (PVR). On paper, the Vale have had a slow start; played two lost two. But both contests have been close and there’s a case to be made that they’ve played two of the better sides in the division. PVR could still be worth keeping an eye on as the season progresses.
As far as Saturday went, Tiffs raced into a two goal lead, Debutant Luciano Andrade pulled a goal back for the Vale before skipper Jermain Dakin put a penalty away. Tiffs responded by surging back into the lead, only for Jal Watson to score a delightful goal cutting in from the right. PVR went all out for the equaliser, but ultimately it wasn’t meant to be. Decent game though by all accounts.
Elsewhere Jamrock bounced back from a Week 1 defeat to win 3-0 against Old Lyonians, and Old Meadonians and Latimer Road played out a 3-3 draw at Dukes Meadow. That leaves Latimer Road second and Jamrock third. Early days, but not bad places to be.
Xavs kick on in Div 3
Pre-season favourites Clapham Old Xaverians are the early pace-setters in Division Three. There’s a case to be made that they should have gone up in 2022-23. Flaky away form was the main issue there.
When at home, however, Xavs are a force to be reckoned with, as Hampton found out at the weekend. Hampton won 7-2 in Week 1, but Xavs’ new signing James Branwood saw to it that that wasn’t going to be a trick repeated in Week 2. Branwood bagged a hat-trick as Clapham won 5-0. Mark Hignett and the ever-reliable defensive rock that is Joe Gnanhoua also had impressive games.
Elsewhere Claygate Royals’ Hounds are nestled in just behind Xavs; they have four points from their two games. In Week Two they welcomed Lighthouse Molesey and the two sides played out an entertaining 3-3 draw.
The final game in the division saw Croxley Green travel to MMB. The Milkmen will be pleased to be up-and-running points-wise. They ran out 3-1 winners.
Although the 30 September is a designated Supervets’ week, Civil Service and Army Crusaders will be locking horns in a Division One contest then, too.
Looking further ahead, Ascot United’s game against Croxley Green is the stand out fixture in the Prem in Week 3 (6/7 October), although Claygate’s trip to West London Rams is certainly another game to keep an eye on.
In Div 1 Hersham Southside will be looking to continue their good early season form against Civil Service, whilst West Kensington Kings against Wandsworth Borough could also be worth following. Double H will be looking to get back into the swing of things when they visit the Army Crusaders.
Div 2 sees the two promoted sides locking horns. Latimer Road and Ascot United IIs won one game each against each other in 2022-23, so a close contest is almost certainly on the cards. Putney Vale Rangers will also be looking to get up and running – they host Old Lyonians.
Finally, Clapham make the long trek to Croxley Green IIs. Will the Xavs be taking those car sickness pills and prove able to carry their excellent home form with them away? We shall see….
Go well everyone.
Dan Hough - email@example.com