Croydon Kings will play Adelaide City in the NPL grand final at Hindmarsh (Coopers) Stadium this coming Saturday Night at 7pm after toppling pre-match favourites Metrostars in the Preliminary Final following an enthralling encounter at TK Shutter Reserve.
Unbelievable. Truly unbelievable given the mountains the Kings had to climb to get there, but we’ll take it!
Both teams started testing each other with some caution, hoping to catch each other on the break with patient build ups. Croydon started to penetrate through their midfield presence with Luke Klimek and Rocky Visconte prominent early on. Croydon suffered an early setback when Visconte’s day was cut short with what looked to be a hamstring injury and he had to be subbed. Kings were forced to reshuffle but had good options on the bench so they just had to get on with it. There were some great individual battles going on all over the park and with many looking at their watches for the half time whistle at 0-0, the game was turned on its head when a rather innocuous foul in the penalty area saw referee Gary Mooney whistle and point to the spot and the penalty award to Metro was coolly put away by Esposito. The decision raised the ire of Croydon players and supporters alike, but the half time whistle immediately after gave everyone a chance to cool down and concentrate on what to do about the next 45 minutes as opposed to worrying about a soft decision in such a big game that wasn’t going to change anyway.
After an even first half in terms of play, Croydon certainly took charge of the second as they tried earnestly to find an equaliser. They pressed, forced many chances, although Metro defence battled hard and kept the Kings at bay although you could sense Metro were hanging by a thread as the Kings continued to pile on the forward pressure. Eventually the pressure paid off when a corner delivered by the game’s second sub James Skeffington was flicked on by one header to find Michael Doyle in the right place at the right time to nod home to square the game up at 1-1, much to the delight of the large away crowd. Metro tried to retrieve its attacking game and began to find ways to get forward again, but Doyle, Hosine Bility, John Panagaris and Anthony Francesca were there to ensure life was kept as easy as possible for Nick Munro in the Croydon goal.
As the game drew nearer to the final whistle, meaning extra time and possibly penalties would be needed to sort out the winner, Croydon found something extra in the tank, thanks a lot to Klimek, Nathan Farrell and Paul Radice trying anything and everything to make something happen. Then with the clock ticking over to the 90th minute, Croydon were awarded a free-kick outside the box, but still some distance from goal. A floating free kick was attacked by all and sundry in the penalty area until a lurking Shaun McGreevy was on hand to cleverly side foot the ball into the corner of the net to give the Kings a 2-1 lead and the Kings celebrations started knowing they just had to hold out a few minutes of injury time and we were in a Grand Final. The whistle blew and the euphoric scenes began with celebrating players and supporters alike and the realisation of yet another Croydon finals comeback was complete and we did what few thought was possible at several times throughout the regular season – not only to make the finals but go on to make the big one!
Kudos to all involved, from coaching and support staff and of course to the players who’s fighting spirit is what we value more than anything at Polonia. We salute your efforts this season and regardless of next week’s result, we are proud of what you have done in 2017.
We now face the reality and possibility of being part of a real golden era in the club’s history not seen for around 40 years when the club was in its heyday and winning big trophies for fun and on a regular basis..
The only sour note is that it looks like Visconte may succumb to his injury and it would take a minor miracle for him to get up in a week for the big match – but it has been done before, so we’ll have to sweat on the outcome until the last minute. Hosine Bility also had to hobble off before the end of the game but hopefully he will be cherry ripe to face the might of Adelaide City in the big one next week.
So people, cancel your plans for Saturday Night – even Power supporters at the club will be looking to offload their finals tickets so to witness the club’s biggest game since winning the Federation Cup in 2015, ironically against Adelaide City, and when we last won the championship against Metro back in 2014 at Hindmarsh. Lets’ see another sea of red and white (and maybe some yellow?) and see if we can beat the minor premiers for the third time this season.
Please note that all supporters and families are invited to a free sausage sizzle on Wednesday night when the team trains at the club as a show of appreciation to continued support and loyalty.
Pic courtesy Joe Janko – players celebrate winning goal in dying stages of the game.