REVAMPED SIDE BEATS AFC CROYDON ATHLETIC IN CUP.
Crows through to the quarter-finals of the SCEFL Challenge Cup.
Pring puts a spring in the Crows steps.
Due to injuries and absence, it was a revamped Crows side that took on AFC Croydon Athletic at the Community Stadium on Tuesday night in a SCEFL Challenge Cup 3rd Round tie. Attwood, Unwin and Barton were injured, Treleaven and Tear were unavailable for selection. Muggeridge, Walder and Phipp dropped down to the bench, with Vickers, Clarke, Perry, Boddy, Pring and Cole coming in to the starting eleven after the FA Vase game at Melksham Town on Saturday.
Whilst the home club knew their side, things were a bit different for AFC Croydon Athletic. Due to our floodlight restrictions the match was due to kick off at 7:30pm, to allow for the possibility of extra-time and penalties, however, the 15 minute difference from our normal kick off time of 7:45pm seemed to give the away side some problems as most of their team didn't arrive until after 7:00pm.
This led to their teamsheet not being available until very late and the crowd didn't know who was playing for them until they emerged from the tunnel. When they did emerge the first thing you noticed was how big and physical they looked compared to our players, most were well over 6ft and muscular in frame.
Their late arrival meant that kick off was delayed for 10 minutes by the match referee, although by the time the whistle blew for kick off it was nearer 7:43pm, so it was a good job the match didn't go to extra-time and penalties in the end.
Most of the first half was a bit untidy, the ball spending too much time In the air, the passing of both teams was not accurate enough and no player had any time on the ball, therefore, chances were few and far between for either side and as befitted their players, the game became more of a physical encounter, every ball being fought for and not always fairly, so free-kicks abounded.
The Crows cause wasn't helped when Carrington had to go off injured in the 16th minute, Pearson coming on as his replacement, in a like-for-like positional swap. However, in the 28th minute the home side went 1-0 up, Crabb picking up the ball midway inside the AFC half and threading a great through ball to Pring inside the area and he was able to slide the ball past the 'keeper and in to the net.
There was more injury concern for the home side before the restart, White having to leave the field and being replaced by Goldsmith, again in a like-for-like swap, only 29 minutes gone and two substitutes already used.
Pring's goal gave the Crows a lift and it was they who then had the better chances and in the 34th minute the greater possession led to a second goal, the ball eventually falling to Clarke inside the area and his shot was brilliantly saved by the AFC goalie but the rebound fell to Perry who put the ball in the net for 2-0.
The award of the goal upset the AFC players somewhat as they thought Perry must have been offside, however, the assistant referee pointed to the defender who played Perry onside and the goal stood. This led to the players and management of the away side speaking to the referee once he blew the half-time whistle on the pitch, the discussion carrying on in the tunnel area apparently and this led to their manager being removed from the technical area for the second-half.
Unbeknown to everyone, except to the match officials hopefully, AFC made a substitution at half-time, Lewis going off and Green coming on and he definitely had an impact on their performance in the second 45 minutes.
Perhaps, because they felt aggrieved about the second goal, the away side pushed more players forward in the second-half and, if possible, became even more physical than before, therefore, they started to dominate the play although their chances were mainly from distance and it still looked that their best way back in to the game would be from a corner or free-kick where their greater height and physicality would count the most.
The Crow players knew they would have to dig deep during this period but their defence was penetrated in the 51st minute, Oloyede putting the ball in the net to make the score 2-1. The away side now had the wind in their sails and started to put the Crows under even greater pressure but the defence stayed strong and when called upon the away side found Burbridge in good form between the posts.
In the 68th minute the home side made their final substitution, Perry who had worked hard upfront, left the field and Phipp came on in his place, at least it gave the side a bit more height in the side. This meant that Pring was pushed further forward in support of Pearson, who had an effort cleared off the line in the 70th minute.
Perhaps against the run of play a bit, the Crows made it 3-1 in the 71st minute after good work by Pring saw him get to the goal line before sliding the ball across to the unmarked Turner who slotted the ball home.
The home fans felt they could breath easy again now but it became 3-2 in the 78th minute, substitute Green firing the ball in on the angle from the edge of the area, game on again felt the AFC supporters, however, there weren't anymore goals and the Crows eventually went through to the quarter-finals of the SCEFL Challenge Cup.
In what was a physical game there had to be yellow cards shown, all in the second period, Agoro, Fowler, Oloyede and Kaffo for AFC and Cole for the Crows, all incurred the wrath of the match referee, either for a tackle, an accumulation of infringements or dissent.
The revamped home squad deserve a lot of praise for the effort and determination they showed throughout the match, especially against such a big side, and there wasn't one player who didn't give their all for the Crows.