Despite the absences of Aaron Bogle, Aaron Reber, and Jordan Anderson, there were high hopes with the return of Ulrich Fischer, and assistant manager Tayler Maddock making an appearance as well.
The game started in a lively fashion with chances for both teams through the first half: A Croydon free kick towards Jordan Samuels was cleared. Elmstead then also got a free kick that Maddock defended, clearing the ball to Chin but Cameron McGovern gave away a throw in.
A Croydon corner was then headed out, while at the other end of the pitch, Oliver Beauchamp headed away an Elmstead chance. Elmstead then won a corner, which George Kamurasi cleared to Lauris Chin, only for the home side to take back possession but shoot wide.
Elmstead got a couple more corners which were cleared, the first by Kamurasi and the second by Beauchamp. Two Elmstead strikers then broke through but Kamurasi saved an oncoming ball.
More chances came Croydon’s way. First, Beauchamp chipped the ball to an offside Chin, before Maddock passed to Sammy Morgan who went past an opponent, but shot off target, Maddock himself had a free kick saved soon afterwards before Kieran Rufus headed a Morgan corner over the crossbar. Despite a good defensive performance from Maddock, he picked up a yellow card for a late tackle
A Jordan Samuels chance going wide started the second half but it was the home side who finally scored after 47 minutes. Former Tram Kamieko Pope-Campbell received a cross from the left and shot out of Kamurasi’s reach towards the far post.
For Croydon, subservient corners were saved and headed out and some good possession followed, particularly with Chin, Morgan and Harvey Morton.
Elmstead pushed forward, and Morgan and Morton defended, forcing a shot over the crossbar. A Croydon free kick went to Sam Sene-Richardson, who passed to Ore Allen then Bola Noiki whose attempt was cleared.
There was an action-packed ending but Croydon still couldn’t get an equaliser: Maddock pumped the ball forward to Noiki; a cross from Fischer went off target; a Trams corner went past Fischer; and Sene-Richardson crossed to Kieran Rufus whose chance was punched out. Even Kamurasi ran from his goal to see if he could get an equaliser but Rufus got injured and the game petered out.
Match Report: Suniel Bhardwaj
Pictures: Nigel White