65 minutes from the City Station by Thameslink via East Croydon and a terrific tram service to Croydon Arena, home of Croydon Harriers (athletics), Croydon Karate Club, Croydon Tug-of-War Club, and Ryman Premier League side, Croydon. The pitch is surrounded by an 8-lane athletics track, behind the goals are the hammer-throwing net, the shot-putt area and jumping pits then a fence and a bit of grass. The stand might be good for the 100 metres finish line but binoculars are required to see the pitch. The clubhouse is fine but a poor tea-bar. Coming here every other week would be a true test of loyalty.
Croydon are propping up the Premier League but they pocketed £7500 on Saturday despatching Carshalton from the F.A.Cup. City must put the
disappointment of cup defeat by Billericay behind them and concentrate on the League. It's been too long since our last victory.
For tonight, The Dynamic Duo selected Church in goal; 3 at the back [see note in a minute]:Evans, Brown (C) and Moran; 5 in the middle:Honeyball, Fenton, Hyatt, Rattle and Smith;; in front of them: Paul McCarthy on loan/trial from Chelmsford; and in front of him: Martin. [Note: sorry for spoiling the story but after we went 2 down, we changed to 4 at the back: Honeyball, Brown, Moran and Rattle, with Evans switching to midfield.] On the bench were Blaney, Ferguson and Campbell. In the stand were the suspended Wraight and the injured Wilmot, Cook, Metcalf, Bignal, Nabil and Ansell.
It was a very poor first half. We didn't seem to 'get going' tonight and neither did Croydon, until, 15 minutes into the game, out of the blue, the home defence hit a long ball to the left which fooled Evans, the home winger took it on and crossed for the no 9 to slide the ball home past Church. 1-0.
5 minutes later, out of the blue again, Brown slipped when trying to head the ball away from the edge of the box and the No 9 stepped in to beat the keeper. 2-0. City were stunned, having been threatened twice and conceded 2 goals. We were not firing anywhere tonight. The formation changed and we were tight at the back, at least. H.T. 2-0.
I don't know whether The Duo threw china or styrofoam cups in the dressing room at half time but we livened up for the second half. It was not pretty in the midfield but we created several chances up front and after 10 minutes, Moran scored a spectacular goal when, from just outside the area, he half
turned and hit a hook volley in off the underside of the bar onto the stanchion. 2-1. Blaney came on for someone, possibly Fenton. It was not one-way traffic but the defence was tight now and Saints made the better chances. Brown and Moran headed high, Smith broke through to lose a one-on-one with the keeper, Martin had a penalty appeal rejected and was later close from a cross. It was not to be. F.T. 2-1.
Notwithstanding the chances created in the second half, this was disappointing tonight. Croydon are not a good side but worked hard and Premier League sides don't lie down. We weren't up for it in the first-half.
The official attendance was 119. There were only 60 or so Travelling City Faithful at the Arena, the lowest that I can remember, and 20 or so home fans. Not a good night.
Entertainment 4/10. Atmosphere 1/10. Technical Merit 5/10. Referee 5/10.
Next up. At home on Saturday when we entertain Kingstonian, F.A.Cup heroes of recent years but struggling this term in the Ryman having been relegated from The Conference last season. It's a 1.00 p.m. kick-off at Clarence Park in order not to affect the gate at the England game against Greece at Old Trafford.