Croydon lost its first away game of the season went they went down 1-0 at the Steve Woodcock Centre against a disciplined and desperate Campbelltown City.
The Kings had a couple of big wins over the last two weeks and it was another big ask to see if they could replicate their winning form. They started well enough and early shots from distance by Radice and Farrell tested the City keeper as Croydon looked to pile on the pressure. But it was almost as if Campbelltown was trying to play Croydon at its own game as they tightened up in defence and looked to pounce on the breaks and as the first half wore on, the Red Devils showed that they weren’t to be taken lightly as they look to save their season and press for the finals positions. With about 5 minutes of the first half remaining, the game’s only goal was struck by Strain who was found unmarked in the penalty area and slotted past Nick Munro to give home team the lead.
The second half opened up with Croydon lifting their tempo and they began to win the midfield battles, but at times were frustrated by some puzzling refereeing decisions which seemed to favour the home side almost religiously. Subs were made, formations tweaked in the hope of finding the equaliser, but a stout and disciplined Campbelltown side matched whatever Croydon threw at them. The Kings had their moments but were always under pressure when trying to shoot or having pot shots in a fast and furious finish but the home team held on to take all 3 valuable points.
To be fair, the Kings gave it their best, especially in the second half and to look at the big picture, something had to give after some massive games in recent weeks and a small “reality check” might not be a bad thing at this stage of the season with only 4 games remaining. And to add to the perspective, it was the first Kings away loss (after 8 previous unbeaten efforts) and only the second ever loss wearing the yellow kit!
Let’s just put this down to one of those games where things didn’t quite go our way, and there’s no need to try and re-invent the wheel. We just have to pick ourselves up, realise we are now in fifth spot again and focus on next week’s opponent, a vastly improved Para Hills Knights, who until this weekend won 5 games on the trot, so also have some decent form under their belt. They too can sniff finals, so the best way Croydon can take them out of the equation is to beat them and ensure there is enough daylight between them in the middle of the premiership table, and in particular, those vital finals spots in the top six. Roll on next Saturday!
The Reserves had a hard match but kept their nerve and prevailed 2-1 to stay top of the table, with all goals coming in a highly entertaining second half. Put simply finals are guaranteed, although coach Mick Doyle will clearly want to finish the season on top to make a clear statement. Well done lads, things are going along nicely, just keep pushing yourselves and you’ll reap the rewards.
The U/18’s despite being bottom of the table had one of their most proudest days of the season when they kept Campbelltown, sitting in second spot, to a goalless draw. Those with good memories will recall when in the pre-season the Red Devils belted the Kings 12-0, so it’s a great indication of how well so many of the team have risen and improved despite being up against it early in the season and often playing chase up football. New coach Paul Townsend would have been extremely pleased with how desperate the boys defended and at times the team could have almost snatched the win with some dangerous attacks on the break. Well done boys, there’s another 4 games to show how far you’ve come and playing against the U/18 ladder leaders in Para Hills next week will be another huge chance to illustrate your development.
The Ladies teams were up against it when facing Comets on Sunday. Coach Simon Kasperski informs the reserves side played with only 7 players, so going down 13-0 wasn’t that bad an effort. The senior side went down 8-2, but five players ended up having played for the Ressies as well, and how good was it that despite all that, the second half was actually 2-2! Simon says the girls are in great spirits and at the end of the day, they will go down in history as the inaugural Croydon Women’s teams and can only get better – hopefully Simon will have a full quota to choose from in the coming weeks! Go the “Mermaids”!

Pic – courtesy Joe Janko – Paul Radice tried to find a way through the Devils defence but no-one could crack the code this week