On a day where the only Trams running were on the pitch at Croydon Sports Arena, and not at Arena tramstop, Croydon continued to rise up the league table and extended their unbeaten run to five wins in a row.
The first half was a non-descript affair with play going from penalty area to penalty area but rarely beyond. There were only a couple of shots in this opening period, one on seventeen minutes when Ryan Palmer intercepted an opponent, the ball running to Uli Fischer whose shot was saved. The other was just before the break when Fischer hit a powerful drive which Bec goalkeeper Jack Powell tipped round the near post.
In between, Lauris Chin broke clear on nineteen and Adam Allen’s shot was blocked for a corner then goalkeeper Sam Penney-Hughes went route one but Chin didn’t have the speed to get on the end. So, a goalless first half and after the restart, Tooting were light years ahead for the opening fifteen minutes, forcing a succession of corners which Trams managed to defend but sometimes with more luck than judgement.
The Bec contrived to shoot wide on a couple of occasions and they also rattled the crossbar whilst at the other end, Chin forced a diving save with a low shot. Christmas had clearly come early for the visitors on the hour as they were presented with the ball following a goalkeeping error and Alvin Turyatemba duly chipped it into the open goal from thirty yards. It was no real surprise and no more than they deserved.
But the next ten minutes saw the game turned on its head. Croydon seemed to wake up and on sixty-two, were awarded a free-kick just outside the eighteen yard area. A poor effort was blocked and the ball rebounded to Ryan Palmer whose daisy cutter found its way through a welter of legs with the aid of a deflection.
Psychologically, this was the boost that the Trams needed, the energy now displayed for the final third was palpable. Bec were now rocking, substitute David Green found space to turn on sixty-six but his shot was tipped for a corner. Fischer’s header was tipped over for another flag kick which was glanced inside the far upright by Jordan Anderson.
And within a couple of minutes Athan Smith-Joseph chipped the ball over the goalkeeper for Trams third. Tooting tried to rally and did cause some problems but for a change, Croydon didn’t procrastinate at the back and cleared to safety as necessary. There was plenty of determination on display and Trams battled hard to retain what they had earnt in that purple patch. Citius, altius, fortius? We can but hope.
Croydon’s next match is away to Lewisham Borough in the First Division Cup, KO 3pm.
Croydon: Penney-Hughes, Morgan (Smith-Joseph 58), McGovern, Anderson (C) (Springer 82), Fray, Allen (Green 58), White, Fischer (Ayetine 70), Chin (Morton 77), Bogle, Palmer.
Subs: All used.
Match Report: Steve Tyler
Pictures: Del O’Driscoll