The promise shown in recent weeks failed to manifest itself on this autumn afternoon – it was the same for both sides, both rested certain players for forthcoming – and what are perceived as more important – fixtures.
Trams started brightly, forcing a corner after twenty seconds but the flag kick was easily snaffled by the goalkeeper. Uli Fischer was forced out of the game on seven with a dislocated finger and Trams had lost their figurehead, henceforth lacking the necessary punch up front.
It looked as it would be a midfield stalemate although the youthful hosts had a tad more pace which they utilised. On twenty-one, a foul on Ryan Palmer twenty yards out led to a yellow card but Jahquan Springer shot over. And two minutes later, it looked as though Cameron McGovern had stretched and netted at the far post but the goalkeeper somehow recovered to get across and push the ball clear.
The opener came on thirty-seven with Richard White dawdling on the ball and being dispossessed in the middle of the pitch. The hosts pushed the ball out to the left and into the area, a missed tackle and the ball was hit inside the far upright.
A well worked and patient build up in time added-on before the interval saw another low shot find its way inside the far post and leaving the home team in a very comfortable position.
The second half started with a shot cannoning off Freddie Merritt’s face, almost certainly stopping number three and causing him to leave the field. And within minutes, the deficit was reduced when Athan Smith-Joseph created space on the right of the penalty area and hammered the ball into the far corner. It appeared that the pearls of wisdom imparted during the interval had had some effect!
On fifty, Sam Morgan was on the receiving end of a challenge which ended his afternoon, the miscreant seeing yellow. His replacement, Adam Allen, was soon involved, heading high and wide from a right wing corner.
White deservedly saw red for a dogso offence on thirty-one when outpaced, unceremoniously pulling back his opponent and the resulting free-kick saw Sam Penney- Hughes dive low to save.
Lauris Chin was introduced and five minutes into time added on, outpaced the defence down the right and was upended, Smith-Joseph levelling from the penalty mark.
If Trams thought they had escaped, they were wrong as three minutes later, they were again exposed down their right flank and the home team gleefully grabbed the winner which, on balance they deserved.
Croydon make the short journey to AFC Whyteleafe on Saturday and kick off is 3pm.
Croydon: Penney-Hughes, Morgan (Adam Allen 59), McGovern, Merritt (Obanakho 49), Morton, Springer, White (C), Brown (Chin 63), Fischer (Smith-Joseph 6), Palmer (Noiki 87), Green.
All subs used.
Match Report: Steve Tyler