In Croydon Women's last match of 2020-21 they faced the team whom they met in their first of the season, Ashford Town B from Middlesex.
Croydon shone bright in their favoured yellow shirts and Ashford wore blue with orange stripes at a muggy Club Langley.
Ashford, as favourites, started the brighter and forced the Croydon No 1 to collect her first shot easily. Trams responded immediately and Kacie Nadison Singh sent Yoyo Oke through and her turned shot was swell saved. Lucy Casey did a nice drag back in midfield, and then fed Tammie Adekanmbi. It was Adekanmbi’s first game for a while and she was looking hungry, rounding three Town players before being fouled. Nadison hit the free kick direct for the Ashford keeper to catch.
The play was competitive as both teams settled, Croydon with more flair and Town solid and direct. It was a communication error in defence that led to the first goal. Ashford's left winger seized on the loose ball and passed it square for their striker to tap in. 0-1.
Ashford nearly doubled the lead with a long-range effort that was parried then held as their alert striker rushed in.
Croydon then had a long spell of possession and positive play. Adekanmbi started to get really involved and menaced the Ashford defence. Her persistence robbing the left back before being pulled back for a free kick. Singh hit a low hard drive that was cleared from the packed Ashford defence. Casey, made good use of her height and won the ball. She fed Oke through on the right. Oke turned her marker and fed Emma Dyduch who turned and shot but blocked by the impressive No 5.
Belief spread through the yellows of Croydon. Adekanmbi again did amazing skills on the right and beat her marker, once again feeding through to Emma whose turn and shot was thwarted, once more by the Goliath Ashford No 5. Croydon pressed and from a free kick the Ashford keeper showed great agility to hold the drive into the box.
Matylda Katana, was waltzing through the Ashford box but got tackled by No 5, the ball falling to Oke. Oke skilfully rode two lunges by Ashford players, before rounding the keeper and slotting home. 1-1.
It was probably the best goal seen in a Croydon shirt all season and had taken the last game to happen. As the heat bore down the referee blew for a water break.
Ashford attacked immediately from the re-start and they won a corner. It was hit low and hard into the Croydon box, but thankfully cleared by the sharpness of Kamilla Øvrevik.
The Trams didn't stop pressing and nice hold up play by Dyduch saw her release Katana whose shot under pressure was saved by the Ashford keeper.
The remainder of the half was open play and great for the spectators. Singh and Adekambi both having nice dribbles at their opponents, who fouled time after time. It was end to end, and Øvrevik intercepted a certain goal for a corner, which she then cleared as well. Ashford right winger was being used much more and her over hit cross found their left winger, who cut a nice ball inside and the onrushing midfielder buried the shot beyond the Croydon keeper. 1-2.
Øvrevik was replaced due to potential injury sustained in the initial block.
The energetic Katana battled well and fed Dyduch whose shot was deflected then on the counter Ashford were denied by the long-outstretched legs of Jade Asagba for a corner, that Asagba again cleared with no fuss. The half ended with Casey driving a good long-range effort from the edge of the box beyond both the Ashford keeper and the left-hand post.
Croydon came out the brighter in the second half. The No 5 for Ashford was a colossus and was providing a dilemma for best attack ploys, seemingly everywhere at the back, so Croydon adopted longer range efforts. Kacie tried a long shot but was deflected. Oke tried to shoot early on her left but lacked the power. No matter what was thrown at Ashford in the opening exchanges the No 5 was head and shoulders in control.
Ashford nearly extended the lead with a cheeky lob that went inches over the Croydon bar. Katana was really pushing for the Trams and in a short spell had a shot saved and a longer shot go wide. Oke did a beautiful piece of trickery to beat her marker on the right. She fed Dyduch who out fought the No 5, only for her through ball to be intercepted. It was all Croydon as the Middlesex players tired.
Singh had 2 efforts in short succession go wide another fumbled by the Ashford keeper but as Dyduch pursued a free kick was given against her, though photographic evidence showed after that the keeper did not have her hands on the ball.
Adenkanmbi had a clash of heads as she raced through on goal and had to be taken off. The free kick was a quick slip to Megan Webster who blasted it into the Ashford wall. The ball went loose to Oke, who passed to Katana. Her first touch brought her into a one on one with the Ashford keeper whose feet were able to divert the shot wide. Øvrevik intercepted the next Ashford challenge and fed a long ball to Oke who beat her marker only for the alert Ashford No1 to intercept again. All the relevant play was from Croydon with small interludes for Ashford on the counter.
Adekanmbi and Oke had a couple of good chances. The No 5, Oke and the Ashford keeper got into a muddle and the Croydon coached decided to substitute Oke, with the heat and pressure of the play a deciding factor.
The fight had been extinguished from Croydon and Ashford had the last 2 chances, neither really testing their goal.
Ashford went back to Middlesex 1-2 victors, but knew they had been in a greatly contested match.
For Croydon the season had been epitomised in one game. Early promises were not released. Poor finishing from good chances and some bad luck thwarted the Trams too.
The match ended with a fantastic ceremony in which all players and officials received medals and trophies were awarded.
Player of Match: Matylda Katana - box to box skill and tenacity throughout.