NON-LEAGUE NEWS: One of the local clubs’ outstanding players has been offered a trial with a Championship side, while there’s a massive opportunity for a cup giant-killing for another club’s youth team, as ANDREW SINCLAIR reports
Whyteleafe’s Ronald Sobowale is making the headlines, after the prolific striker was taken on trial by Championship club Middlesbrough.
National newspaper reports suggest that Sobowale is being watched by scouts from Premier League clubs including Leicester and Watford. Fulham and table-topping West Brom are also reported to be interested in the pacy goal-scorer.
Sobowale, 22, is the cousin of Bayern Munich star David Alaba, and played in Chelsea’s academy alongside Tammy Abrahams and Dominic Solanke. He has been scoring goals for fun in a Whyteleafe shirt this season and his form attracted the attentions of Jonathan Woodgate’s side, who offered him a trial.
Sobowale managed to hit the back of the net five times during November for Harry Hudson’s men, taking his tally for the season to 19, as the Isthmian South East Division side recorded four wins from their nine competitive games during last month.
Whyteleafe beat Phoenix Sports at the start of the month and after alternating draws and losses in the league and the Velocity Trophy, they ended November with three consecutive victories against Whitstable, Tooting and Mitcham and Three Bridges.
The club is seventh in their league, three points off Sevenoaks, who they face in mid-December, in fifth. However, owing to their FA Cup exploits earlier in the season and a couple of match abandonments, they do have a couple of games in hand over the teams above them in the table.
Croydon’s two non-league clubs registered just one win between them across seven games during a difficult November that saw both lose ground in their league campaigns.
Croydon ended October with a 1-0 win over Thamesmead in the Hospitals Charity Cup, a result they followed up with a frustrating league defeat at home against fellow promotion contenders Rusthall.
The Trams raced into an early 2-0 lead courtesy of goals from Andy Somo and Martin Smith, only for Rusthall, who were relegated from the SCEFL Premier Division along with Croydon last season, to score three times in the second half to snatch victory.
Liam Giles’s side was then resoundingly beaten 4-0 by Thamesmead the following weekend before they exited the London Senior Trophy courtesy of a 3-2 away defeat against Bridon Ropes, a side they had beaten 6-2 earlier in the season.
Although those results were frustrating, a man of the match display from new signing Josh Owen and two goals from Smith helped Croydon end the month on a high with a 2-0 win over Snodland at the Arena on Saturday. Two serious injuries led to a total of 19 minutes of stoppage time across both halves but the Trams were resolute, picking up their first league clean sheet since the opening day of the season.
The Trams, who face the Phoenix Sports Reserve side in the Hospitals Charity Cup quarter-final before the end of the year, are sixth in the SCEFL Division One, nine points off Rochester at the top of the table but with three games in hand.
The club’s youth development programme, meanwhile, is going from strength to strength, with victory over Bath City in the FA Youth Cup second round setting up a daunting visit to Wigan. If, somehow, the young Trams can win that tie, they have a fourth-round dar against either Tottenham Hotspur or Liverpool.
Croydon Athletic, meanwhile, lost all three competitive games in November.
The Rams had league wins against Crowborough Athletic and Corinthian in late October but since then they have been eliminated from the SCEFL Challenge Cup and been sucked further into a relegation battle in the SCEFL Premier Division.
Although they pushed Elmstead close in the cup, eventually going down on penalties after taking the lead three times during the 90 minutes, the Rams have been poor in the league, beaten 6-1 and 3-0 at home by fellow strugglers Lordswood and Punjab United.
Kevin Rayner’s side is 16th in the table, six points above the relegation zone, although they do have some games in hand on the sides around them.
Sat Dec 7: SCEFL Premier Div v Deal (A)
Sat Dec 14: SCEFL Premier Div v Erith (H)
Sat Dec 21: SCEFL Premier Div v Beckenham (A)
Sat Dec 28: SCEFL Premier Div v Fisher (H)
Tonight: Isthmian SE Div v Sittingbourne (H)
Sat Dec 7: Isthmian SE Div v Faversham (A)
Tue Dec 10: Isthmian SE Div v Whitehawk (A)
Sat Dec 14: Isthmian SE Div v Sevenoaks (H)
Tue Dec 17: Isthmian SE Div v Cray Valley PM (A)
Sat Dec 21: Isthmian SE Div v Haywards Heath (H)
Sat Dec 28: Isthmian SE Div v Guernsey (A)
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