AFC Croydon Athletic
2 - 2
Combined Counties League Premier Division South
Tuesday March 8, 2022, 7:45 pm
Combined Counties League Premier Division South
Jersey began a sequence of away matches with a visit to the Mayfield Stadium at Thornton Heath, near Crystal Palace. They had already visited the ground in mid-October when winning 3-0 against Balham, who share the facilities there. They had also defeated tonight’s opponents 6-0 in mid-January at Springfield.
Croydon Athletic, in their initial incarnation, had joined the Spartan League in 1990 before transferring to the third division of the Isthmian League in 1997. There they worked their way up to the Premier Division in 2010 with significant financial backing from two successive chairmen. Firstly, Dean Fisher, later to be jailed for fraud, and then Mazhar Majeed. A newspaper “sting” found Majeed to be the fixer behind the betting scandal involving the England v Pakistan test series in 2010 and, like Fisher, he was also put behind bars.
With their finances disrupted Croydon Athletic lost the better players they had bought in and were relegated back to Division 1. There they only lasted a few months before folding in December 2011. Three months later their supporters put together a new club, hence their having to adopt current A.F.C. prefix. This new organisation was accepted in to the Combined Counties League Division 1 but it was not until November 2014 that they managed to regain possession of their old ground at Thornton Heath.
In their third Combined Counties season they gained promotion, but with the F.A. geographical re-organisation, the higher league they moved to was the Premier Division of the Kent dominated Southern Counties East League. They spent six seasons there with the last two abandoned seasons seeing them hovering just above the relegation spots.
This season they were moved back by the F.A. to the Combined Counties League but there they are still in relegation danger. They currently sit 18th of the 20 teams with a record of 4-9-14 31-65. In the F.A. Cup and F.A. Vase they went out early to old Southern Counties East rivals, Erith & Belvedere and Holmesdale respectively.
After five successive league games since Christmas without a goal, they ran Walton & Hersham close, only going down 3-4. They then won the relegation “six pointer” against Molesey 4-0 before going down 0-1 to ten man Colliers Wood United on Saturday.
Jersey’s squad for the match was missing the unavailable Frank Tobin, Adam Trotter and Karl Hinds who were replaced by Saturday’s substitutes Jonny Le Quesne, Joe Kilshaw and Ruben Mendes-Pestrana respectively. Teenager Sammy Sutcliffe was added to the squad that had opposed Raynes Park Vale three days ago, along with assistant manager Kevan Nelson listed once again as the standby goalkeeper, but thankfully yet to be called upon.
A dampish evening saw a minute’s applause for the Ukranian war victims precede the game. The already delayed start saw Jersey kicking off towards the Cemetery End nearly eight minutes after the advertised start time on a pitch that could have done with “the heavy roller”. Croydon’s starting team showed six changes to that which played at Springfield two months ago with four of their five substitutes that day starting tonight.
A slow start saw Jake Prince smash a half chance over the bar before Croydon took the lead in a disappointing fashion for the Bulls. An innocuous cross from the right sideline was palmed weakly away by Euan Van der Vliet who had no opponent near him. It went straight to Nahum Green fifteen yards out who brought it down and volleyed home to give Croydon something to defend.
Lorne Bickley burst through but an off-putting tap made him stumble and he could not direct his shot away from Oshane Brown in the Croydon goal. Kamen Nafkha made a good run cutting in from the left but shot weakly when reaching the edge of the box.
A Jersey free-kick just inside the opposition half near the dug outs was delayed for a couple of minutes as Luwayne Greenwood, who had been troublesome up front for Croydon, pulled up with a right thigh problem. He could not continue and was replaced by Carl Obiltey.
When the free-kick was eventually delivered by Sol Solomon the Croydon defence had lost concentration and the thirty-five yard crossfield ball found Luke Campbell unmarked at the far post to bundle home the equaliser on the half hour.
Lorne Bickley reached the right byline and crossed low, but two yards ahead of Solomon who was running in. Solomon almost put Jersey ahead with a twenty-yard lob that Brown just managed to claw away for a corner. In the next attack, Jake Prince drilled a low shot through the crowded goalmouth which was only stopped by a defender on the line, so the sides went to the dressing rooms level.
After the interval Prince again made an impact, putting his shot just wide of the right post only for Nahum Green at the other end to swivel well on the edge of the box, but he hit his shot straight at Van der Vliet.
The end-to-end play continued with Bickley almost setting up Solomon, only for the chance to be hacked off the line. The hack was then volleyed away in midfield over James Queree. Chasing back he was thwarted by an unfortunate bobble and so under hit his intended back pass. Nahum Green was quickly on to the loose ball and thundered it past Van der Vliet to restore Croydon’s lead.
In the 54th minute Bickley, chasing back, was late in shoulder charging Alfie Young as he cleared the ball down the left sideline. The subsequent piling in of players was totally out of proportion to the seriousness of the incident which ended with Bickley and the Croydon captain, Abbas Agoro, being cautioned.
Just before the hour, a twenty-five yard Solomon free-kick beat the defensive wall and the diving Brown, only to hit the inside of the right post and roll across the face of the goal behind the prostrate ‘keeper. In the follow up Jay Giles hit a high hanging cross from the left towards the top right corner of the goal which Brown gathered as Campbell came in. The ‘keeper gathered and landed heavily but seemed to think this was Campbell’s fault. He got up, threw the ball in the net, and attempted to strangle Campbell. Cue another mass confrontation and Brown dismissed, which seemed to surprise him, with it taking him some time to depart.
Fortunately for Croydon they had a goalkeeper, Matthew Bishop, on the bench so an outfield player, Joe Nwoko, was sacrificed to let him come on. Bishop was not unduly troubled until twelve minutes from time when Campbell headed a clearance back to Bickley who nodded it on for Mendes-Pestana. Ibrahim Kallon slipped as he attempted to turn and Mendes-Pestana was able to run on and stab the equaliser past Bishop.
Nahum Green considered it a foul on Kallon and his dissent earned him a “sin bin” which left Croydon with only nine players for the next ten minutes. Understandably the already protracted time-wasting tactics increased and Jersey made little impression on the understaffed opposition for whom Kazzeem Richards was the star turn.
Green eventually returned in the 89th minute but he was to play for nine more minutes as referee Nigel Owen played just over eight minutes added time to compensate for the considerable delays that there had been. In the seventh of these, Solomon weaved his way through the right channel only for his cross shot to roll against the left post and stay out. He almost created another in the last minute but could not get the ball out from under his feet.
The final whistle went with Croydon becoming only the second team outside the top six to take a point off Jersey. However, for the second consecutive match seven of the opposition had been sanctioned in one way or another by the referee.
A.F.C. Croydon Athletic (1) 2 (Nahum Green (2) 19 & 50); Jersey Bulls (1) 2 (Luke Campbell 30, Ruben Mendes-Pestana 78)
Programme £xx, xx pp
A.F.C. Croydon Athletic – Oshane Brown, Segun Ikudehinbu, Alfie Young, Abbas Agoro (c), Ibrahim Kallon, Kazzeem Richards, Jermaine Green, Junior Kaffo, Joe Nwoko, Luwayne Greenwood, Nahum Green
Substitutes – Jordan Boateng (not used), Jack Marney (not used), Carl Obiltey (vc) (for Greenwood 29), Khari Oriogun (for Agoro 62), Matthew Bishop GK (for Nwoko 62)
Claret shirts with Light Blue and White trim, Claret shorts and socks.
GK Green/Black/Black, Sub GK All Green
Kevin Rayner (Manager), Sam Morgan (Coach), Denis Lawton (Physio.) Tony Pearson (Kit), Ben Crabb (Coach)
Jersey Bulls – Euan Van der Vliet, Jonny Le Quesne, Jay Giles, James Queree (c), Luke Campbell, Joe Kilshaw, Jake Prince, Kamen Nafkha, Lorne Bickley, Ruben Mendes-Pestana, Sol Solomon.
Substitutes – Fraser Barlow (for Le Quesne 75), Sammy Sutcliffe (not used), Kieran Lester (for Nafkha 70), Kevan Nelson (not used), only four substitutes
Gary Freeman (Manager), Kevan Nelson (Assistant), Dan Seviour (Coach), Richard Hebert (GK Coach)
Blue/Blue/White; GK – All Yellow
Referee – Nigel Owen (East Molesey) a Jersey match debutant.
Assistants – Gareth Mays (Tadworth) on the dug outs side, a regular on Jersey lines. Two seasons ago he was at Godalming Town, visited Springfield for the Sandhurst Town match and was at Dorking Wanderers Reserves for the League Cup tie. This season he ran the line at both Beckenham Town and Balham and was due at Springfield again when we met Guildford City, but airport delays scuppered the match officials intended visit that day. Tristan Hall (Whyteleafe) on the grandstand side, his first time on a Jersey match.
Cautions etc. – Greenwood (AFCCA) 10, Bickley (JB) 55, Agoro (AFCCA) 55, Brown (AFCCA) 60 dismissed, straight red, Ikudehinbu (AFCCA) 69, N. Green (AFCCA) 79 sin bin, J. Green (AFCCA) 84, Kallon (AFFCA) 90+7
Corners – A.F.C. Croydon Athletic (1) 5; Jersey Bulls (3) 5
Player of the Match – Luke Campbell (JB)