Westfield went down to defeat at Woking Park for the first time in five months as a workmanlike Raynes Park Vale eased to a 3-0 victory in the big playoff battle.

An early error gifted the visitors a penalty which was converted by Jordan Gallagher, and while Westfield responded well, efforts by Archy Taylor and Manolis Gogonas failed to test keeper Slav Huk.

Despite being on top in the opening stages of the second half, a Tom Read effort from a set piece took the sting out of the game with 20 minutes remaining, and another defensive mistake gave Jake Gallagher the chance to add a third, which he took to spark huge celebrations among the travelling team.

Westfield manager Ian Selley said: “I was a little bit disappointed today. I think overall it was quite an even game.

“We had five very good chances but didn’t take them, didn’t work the goalkeeper. I think they had three or four chances and they took the chances at the right time.”

Commenting on the contrasting moods in the neighbouring dressing rooms, Selley added: “I’ve just said to the boys in there it’s disappointing because we’ve been on a decent run but there’s a long way to go.

“There’s a lot of celebration going on from their point of view - you know, enjoying the win, a lot of whooping going on - but there’s a long way to go, loads of points to play for and we’re still in the race, so I’m not overly concerned.

“As much as we wanted to win that game, I’m only concerned with where we are. I’m happy with the squad, happy with the team. We’re still in it and we’ll be fighting for it.”

Westfield v Raynes Park Vale, March 23rd 2024.
Westfield Fc fell to a first home defeat in five months (Photo: Westfield FC) (Westfield FC)

It was only Westfield’s second defeat in 18 games and Selley was quick to calm any concerns among supporters.

He said: “You can’t win every single game, so as long as we’re competing and doing the right things we’re going to have a chance to win every game.

“As I also said to the lads, I think it was Bedfont that we played in one of our tail end of the season games last year and they celebrated like they’d won the league - and they didn’t make the playoffs in the end.

“So it’s important that we just focus now on the games we’ve got left and we’re prepared for Chertsey. The lads are hurting in there so I’m expecting a big pick-up next week from the boys and a good performance against Chertsey.”

Selley dismissed the suggestion that scoring goals had become a problem for Westfield.

He said: “We had five chances, so on a different day you take them.

Westfield v Raynes Park Vale, March 23rd 2024.
Westfield compete for a header against Raynes Park Vale (Photo: Westfield FC) (Westfield FC)

“We’ve had a bit of a virus going through the boys, and that’s why we were a little bit short on Tuesday.

“Today’s done and dusted, we’re still in the race and we’ll be in there, so I’m not too worried at the moment. We’ve got lots of games to go, lots of points to fight for, and I know I’ve got a good side with me and that it’ll come back and bounce back.”

The impact of the Raynes Park Vale setback was softened by news of Southall’s 3-0 home defeat by Isthmian League South Central Division leaders Chertsey Town.

Westfield are a point behind Southall, who sit in the last playoff place, and four behind Raynes Park Vale, with a game in hand on both. Westfield travel to Chertsey Town on Saturday, with a 3pm kick-off.