It had to happen, but when was the question. Well, Croydon had all the answers in a solid home performance, one that arguably was its best at Polonia Reserve this season when it came from behind to claim a solid 3-1 win against near neighbour Adelaide Olympic.
Croydon started on the front foot and looked the more dangerous in attack following some initial forward surges by the Olympic side. Some crazy misses looked to have dogged the home side when facing the southern end goals, which have yet to see a home goal all season and things took a turn for the worse when mid-way through the half an Olympic attack following a turnover went for a corner. With the entire eleven Kings players in the box to defend it, the inswinger from Aaron Westervelt found the head of a surprisingly unmarked Chris Pounedis who found the net from six yards with many Kings players shaking heads wondering how it could have been put away so easily. Nevertheless going 1-0 down wasn’t going to faze Croydon who looked to make amends quickly and the likes of Pat Caraccia and Rocky Visconte buzzing in midfield, you could sense something was going to give. It was an unlikely source that rewarded the team effort when John Panagaris and James Skeffington broke free turning defence into attack with a piercing left wing run and eventually the cross into the penalty box found Luke Klimek, himself playing right full back who struck the equaliser on the stroke of half time to make it 1-1.
It was with joy and some relief that finally, Croydon scored a goal at the southern end of the ground in season 2017, but more importantly, it gave some confidence for the half time team talk and how they could build on this momentum.
The second half opened with the Kings looking rampant and attacking waves were the order of the day, even though chances were not coming that easy thanks to a desperate Olympic defence. Croydon were on top in midfield and Caraccia, Visconte and D’Alfonso looked especially menacing not only with defence splitting passes, but vigorous defending when the ball was turned over. Croydon finally took the lead when they broke through on the left and a by-line square ball found D’Alfonso who slotted home from close range and the smell of victory was in the air. Croydon’s confidence grew from defence to attack and a third looked likely the longer the half wore on. A Kings free-kick on the right side of the penalty area was taken by Visconte and his wicked curler was clipped by a Shaun McGreevy head which hit the underside of the cross bar and went in to the delight of the home team and supporters. Olympic had occasional efforts in attack from then on, although Croydon looked more likely to add to their lead with several close chances. Subs were made to ensure Kings stayed fresh and noticeable was the direct approach by young Alhassan Toure, whose fierce shots always kept the Olympic keeper on alert. He scored a great goal whilst playing a half in the reserves, so keeps on pressing his claims for further first team selections.
Anyway, there was relief that finally the Kings won a game at home and shook a few monkeys off the back as they rise to fourth position on the ladder as reward for their extra effort.
The Reserves maintained their top spot with an entertaining 5-3 win, and the only blemishes were perhaps the softness of goals conceded, but when you score five yourself, you’ll never likely lose so well done to the boys who continue to impress all over the park.
The U/18’s were a bit stiff to go down 3-2 when they had missed some good early chances and at one stage led the game 2-1 but some clinical finishing by Olympic gave them the chocolates at the end. Nevertheless, new coach Paul Townsend would be eager to ensure the Kings finish the season off on a high note and with 7 games to go has a chance to stamp some of his knowledge and experience into the team as they set things up gradually for season 2018.
Next week is cup final, which will feature Metrostars and Adelaide City, so the Croydon boys can look forward to a week off, before facing the might of Adelaide Comets, second on the ladder, in a fortnight at SA Athletics Stadium. Let’s hope one thing doesn’t change – the Kings undefeated away form!
Main pic – thanks to Joe Janko – Shaun McGreevy in previous goal celebrations got the third goal to wrap the points up for the Kings.