Much-needed win for improved Croydon

First published in CCL

Goals from James Cecil and Daniel Nwanze gave Croydon a much-needed 2-1 win against fellow strugglers Cove on Satuday, writes Suniel Bhardwaj.

Results elsewhere meant that the Trams went up five places to 15th.

Fans were only settling into the ground when, as early as the third minute, a pass from Nwanze on the right fell to De Almeida, who had a shot that hit the bottom of the post.

Then Croydon had another chance, when Jason Pinnock managed to stay on his feet only for his shot to go wide of the post.

The fifth minute saw the first of many corners for Croydon, but what a corner. Jason Thompson took it, and the ball swept towards James Cecil, who jumped up to head the ball past the keeper into the far side of the goal.

Cove then had their first chance to score a minute later, but that went wide.

Soon, there was another Thompson corner, but De Almeida's shot was saved by the Cove keeper Cathal Maclean.

Cove's first attempt of note to score took place in the 17th minute when they got a free kick, which was cleared by the Trams defenders and eventually saved by Ameyaw.

There was a run through the middle followed by a shot on goal by De Almeida. Thirty seconds later in the 22nd minute, there was another Croydon corner. The ball ended up at Pinnock's feet, who passed to Cecil who in turn passed the ball to De Almeida, whose shot hit the bar, then the referee blew the whistle as Pinnock was offside.

The 25th minute saw Ababiyo have a run on the left, and pass to De Almeida, whose shot was saved by Maclean. The 27th and 29th minutes saw a couple more chances to score by De Almeida. Following some good passes from his team mates, Almeida had two shots that went over the bar.

30 minutes into the game and Croydon got another corner, again taken by Thompson. Thompson's left foot connected with the ball, went in the direction of Nwanze, who like Cecil, jumped up and headed the ball downwards, past the defender in front of him, and in the back of the net.

There were a couple more corners in the next few minutes, one of the corners was the first one in the game that landed at the feet of a Cove defender, who cleared the ball, the second corner ended up with De Almeida whose shot hit the post, but the referee blew the whistle anyway.

Cove then had a chance to score following a throw in, but the forward's chance was worthy of the rugby club next door. Croydon replied, when a Gledhill pass to Pinnock led to a clearance by a Cove defender.

There was a difference to the Cove side in the second half. We don't know if the Cove players received the hairdryer treatment at half time, but two substitutions were made and the defence was tightened up in order to stop Croydon getting forward.

Even so, only eight seconds into the second half, Gledhill had the first shot of the half which went wide. In fact, he had another shot a minute later that went wide as well. There was anticipation in the air when former Tram Kevin Dalrymple took a free kick in the 50th minute, but his shot went over the fence.

Cove had a very good chance of scoring when in the 53rd minute, they had two chances to score and they were both denied by Ameyaw.

Cove defender Kayode Oladipo was playing wide on the right hand side when he had a shot that looked like it was going in, only to ricochet off Ameyaw.

The ball then was at close range at striker Andrew Harewood's feet, and Ameyaw kept to a low position to save it. Only two minutes later, following a clearance from Gaughan, a corner ended up with Dalrymple, but this was saved by Ameyaw.

17 minutes went by before Croydon had their first corner of the second half. Thompson took it, and his shot could have ended in the back of the net, if only for Maclean to suddenly stretch to his right and make a good save. By now, possession was increasingly Coves, although Gledhill did have a couple of chances. In the 73rd minute, Hunt's throw in ended up at Pinnock's feet, he managed to hold on to the ball but his weak shot was easily saved by Maclean.

With 12 minutes to go, Croydon tried again to score. Concalves, running on the left, was kicked by an opposing player. after Concalves tried to take the ball off him. As a result, Concalves got a yellow card. There was another attempt to score, when in the 85th minute, Gaughan made a run on the right hand side of the pitch, getting past a couple of their defenders, crossing to the left for a Marriott chance that was saved.

However, with two and a half minutes to go, it was Cove who had a consolation goal scored by Andrew Harewood.

Laurie Walters made a run on the right, and passed the ball to Harewood. Out of the immediate goalmouth, and his view blocked by an oncoming Thompson trying in vain to defend, Cove got their consolation goal.

However, at this late stage there was a last hurrah for Croydon, because there was one final chance almost four minutes after the 45 when Goncalves had a shot just before the final whistle blew.

This was a very good performance from Croydon, the team worked well together, held on to their lead, and for now, need to hold on to a decent position in the Combined Counties League table. Croydon now travel to Raynes Park Vale on Tuesday night, who at the time of writing, are level on points but have a game in hand.

Team - Ameyaw, Hunt, Ababiyo, J Cecil, Gaughan, Nwanze, Thompson, Gledhill, Pinnock (Pratt 77 mins), De Almeida (Marriott 77 mins), Lippitt (Concalves 68 mins). Sub (not used): M Cecil.

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