Road to Wembley 17/18: Preliminary Round

Erith Town 3-3 Whyteleafe (4-1 Pens) Replay

Normally a trip to see Erith Town means a short stroll from home for me.
I was starting the day in Manchester though, so it was going to be much longer journey this time.

Thanks to a better than usual run down the M6 and M1, I was home in plenty of time for the match.

Having started my ‘Road to Wembley’ at Erith Town last season, I had decided to start elsewhere this time.

Fate however, had brought me back to Oakwood for a replay for the second time in the F.A. Cup this season.
Not only that, but against a Whyteleafe team who Erith would have played in the competition last season, had they not lost at Ramsgate at the same stage.

Erith had got a much credited draw on Whyteleafe’s plastic pitch on the Saturday, so there was a chance of a giantkilling against the Bostik South team who were a division above the Dockers.

Programmes had already sold out by the time I got there, but thanks to the owner, and fellow Addick, I  managed to get hold of one.

It was another mild evening, and it didn’t take long for the game to warm up.

Within 10 minutes both sides had chances.
Jerry Amoo for Whyteleafe tried to lob one in from an acute angle, whilst Andres Tobon drew a save from Whyteleafe keeper Matt Pierson.

Tobon seemed to be the star man for Erith, and was causing undue problems running at the Whyteleafe defence.
Just before the half hour mark, his quickly taken long range free kick rattled the post.

A minute or so later Erith had another free kick even closer.
I was expecting Andres Tobon to try and go one better this time, but Dan Palfrey rifled it home to put Erith one up.

Whyteleafe battled to equalise, and Shawn Clement-Potter headed a good chance over the bar.

There wasn’t much between the sides. Whyteleafe were maybe, marginally technically better, but what Erith lacked, they made up with determination.

Ten minutes before half time Erith were awarded a penalty which Ryan Golding converted.

2-0 up, and Erith’s confidence seemed to lift a gear.
A shock was on the cards, but it was only a couple of minutes before the referee pointed at the spot at the other end.

Sam Clayton scored for the Leafe and then before I could tweet the video of the penalty, Whyteleafe had another!
Clayton stepped up again, and it was 2-2.

I felt gutted for Erith.
Surely their chance had gone, and Whyteleafe would now turn the game around.

I didn’t have time to ponder long because it was Erith’s turn to be given a penalty.
I wondered if the ref had a pressing engagement after the game, and had decided to have a penalty shoot out before 90 minutes were up.

A Whyteleafe player was down injured so we had time to catch our breath before Ryan Golding reclaimed the lead for Erith.
3-2 at half time and a incredible end to the first half.

The second half was always going to be a let down after that finale, but it was a still a great cup battle.

Erith defended well, but the longer the game went on it seemed Whyteleafe were slowly dominating more.

It took until the 81st minute and a huge goalmouth scramble for Jahmal Howlett-Mundle to tap in an equaliser for Whyteleafe.

Erith hung on for extra time, but in the first half of extra time, it looked like only time before Whyteleafe scored again.
They actually had the ball in the back of the net twice, but both were overruled for offside.

In the second half of extra time, Erith seemed to rally a bit, and had a couple of efforts.
Maybe Whyteleafe had run out of gas, and were happy to settle for penalties.

In the seventh minute of injury time, a Whyteleafe player went down in the box. The ref hesitated, and thankfully for Erith, realised that he’d probably used his allowance for giving penalties that night.

So it would be decided by more penalties in a shoot out.

Tamar Bilal scored for Erith 1-0
Sam Clayton (on a hat trick of penalties) skied it over the bar for Whyteleafe.
Aaron Jeffery made it 2-0 to Erith.
Charlie Postance also skied it for Whyteleafe.
Adem Ramadan scored for Erith 3-0.
Jerry Amoo scored for Whyteleafe 3-1.
So it was down to Dan Palfrey to finish the game for Erith.
He topped and tailed the scoring for the evening, and the Dockers were through 4-1 on penalties, and into the 1st Qualifying round.

It was a incredible battling team performance from Erith.
The spirit there alone maybe enough to give Burgess Hill Town of the Bostik Premier, a shock in the next round.

Our thanks to Andy Phillips. Follow him on Twitter.

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