Preview: Whyteleafe (H)

Walton Casuals will kick-off the New Year in a Church Road derby packed with familiar faces when hosting Whyteleafe on Saturday 2 January.

Former Stags Liam Collins and Scott Day have been ever-present for the visitors this season, with Lanre Azeez also featuring for the Leafe in recent weeks. Martin Dynan, who made 31 appearances for the Casuals, was also appointed as player-coach in December.

Potentially leading the line for the Stags, Roscoe D’Sane will be hoping to find the net having scored for the opposition in the 4-1 reserve fixture in August.

Goals from Malachi Hudson, Dan Summers, Jordan Cheadle and Gabriel Odunaike sparked an impressive performance on the Bank Holiday Monday, after two defeats at the hands of Whyteleafe during the 2015-16 season.

Walton Casuals head into the clash unbeaten in three after a recent 1-0 victory over play-off hopefuls Carshalton Athletic, and have suffered just four defeats at Church Road all season. Tenants Whyteleafe have suffered nine defeats at their home ground this campaign, and most recently fell 2-1 at Tooting & Mitcham United. However, their previous outing saw them strike three past Chipstead on Boxing Day.

Whyteleafe are currently without their top scorer, another former Walton player, after Andrew Mensah suffered a nasty leg break last month. Instead, Karl Parker and Sam Clayton prove to be their biggest threats with seven and six goals respectively.

A win could push the Stags into a play-off position, with the visitors able to climb to 12th place. However, with South Park boasting seven games in hand over Leigh Dynan’s side, there is plenty of opportunity for the Ryman South table to change.

Walton Casuals have failed to win their opening game of the year since 2011, and Anthony Gale’s men will be hoping to rewrite their fortunes this time around.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kane Brooker

Kane joined Walton Casuals in 2013 as the club reporter, before working as the matchday secretary, club photographer and programme editor. He has also collated the club's history while developing the club's online presence and brand. He features for the club as the Press & Communications Officer during the 2016-17 while studying Sports Journalism at university.