Leatherhead vs Carshalton Athletic

The win against Alfold in the FA cup preliminary round meant we’d face Leatherhead in the first qualifying round. That made this the biggest game of my time at Whitstable so far.

It also meant a bank holiday trip along the M25, and Step 3 opposition.

Somehow even with research I still managed to get lost. Eventually, after a lot of swearing, and two loops around the town centre, I found a place to stop with free bank holiday parking. It was only a short walk to Fetcham Grove, a walk I performed at my usual nervous football canter. The same canter I’ve used since I was 14 walking to Prenton Park. I’ve never managed to get to a game soon enough.  

This was another pretty ground that had turned “restricted view” into an art form. The ramshackle main stand had so many supporting girders, propped up with scaffolding, that I half expected the full back to be required to hold up some corrugated iron while in a low block.

In terms of scouting, getting to the ground early allows for some last-minute research. Once the teams are announced you can compare to previous matches, check for changes or first appearances. I also try to spot the younger players – who are their prospects, anyone to look out for?

It’s always possible that they change formation from game to game, but you can make a rough guess how they lined up in previous games

For Leatherhead those options were limited. They were a team still re-grouping for the new season, struggling to find form, and about to be outplayed by a Carshalton Athletic side showing none of those shortcomings.

They weren’t all bad. But there was also enough to think that maybe we could pull off an upset. I thought that even more when I heard home officials bemoaning their form and counting on a win against us to kickstart their season.

The highlight of the game was not on the pitch, but in the crowd.

A deep cross into the Leatherhead box was headed clear and reached a bearded fan in the away end who headed it back perfectly while holding a beer. Cheers all round.

Leatherhead v Carshalton Athletic
Monday 30 August 2021
Score: 0-3