There was a delayed 35 minute kick off at Club Langley as the minibus from West London, endured traffic jams getting to Kent. The Croydon players had warmed up and then down and were eager to get at the Greens of Hounslow.
Hounslow set up their stall of damage limitation and it wasn’t long before Croydon had their first chance. Emma Dyduch did well to get to the by-line, and cross to the unmarked Sarah Nicholson, alas just inches too far for her to reach.
Maka Julios was relishing her role on the right wing, linking well with Sophie Reid, and proving a real handful to her opponents.
Hounslow were physical, and in No15 had a real playmaker who was linking well in the midfeld. It was however, one-way traffic for the Trams, and Hounslow rarely got out of their half. Disaster struck half way into the half. Sofia Abbad, rode two strong challenges and then got caught on her left ankle as she rounded the third. The worst was feared as she lay in pain and was carried off. Sofia had broken the ankle almost a year ago and this looked like more bad news for the Trams, though thankfully was not as severe this time.
Croydon bombarded the Hounslow goal, and after several corners, Dyduch arrived late at the far post to slice just wide. Dyduch was a real thorn in the side of Hounslow, and a lovely turn and shot was well tipped over by the Hounslow keeper. At the other end, Yoyo Oke, in goal for the Trams, had little to do but was solid in her delivery when required, passing to feet over long distances. Sarah Nicholson was foiled at the Hounslow keepers feet after a nice dribble on the left. Moments later, Julios tormented her opponents by cutting inside onto her left and running across the pitch, before slotting a perfect pass to Niccole D’Aranjo, who turned her marker but her shot was deflected. The corner was short to Kacie Nadison Singh who shot from distance, but the keeper held it well. D’Aranjo was taking more direct approaches and was unfortunate that a delicate lobbed effort went tantalisingly wide.
Kamilla Overik came on up front and was immediately in and then out of action. Her first touch was clean through one on one and the keeper saved. The rebound she stretched to hit wide and in doing so, twanged her hamstring and had to come off. Croydon were now with two key players injured, and nothing was going right in the final third.
With wingers mesmerising, Julios on the right and D’Aranjo on the left, Croydon parked in the Hounslow half, Dyduch shot over, jade Asagba had an effort go wide and then Dyduch headed over.
Finally all the pressure paid off. Iffey Chilezie strode through the centre and fed D’Aranjo on the left, who twisted her opponent inside out and then slipped the ball under the diving Hounslow keeper, to give a deserved 1-0 lead just before half-time.
The second half continued in a similar vein. Oke was now upfront and was being stopped by the combo of physical defending, good goalkeeping and dubious offside decisions. Singh had a few long range efforts on target or wide, Meghan Webster had a shot saved and also hit the bar. Julio’s continued to rule the wing. In one attack she got tackled for a corner, which Reid took, and Asagba did well to rise above and header inches wide.
A rare free kick from Hounslow, by the impressive No15 floated into the crowded Croydon area was well collected by D’Aranjo deputising in goal. Normal service resumed with Oke being foiled at the last by good defending, a free kick was well struck by Siane Francis Duncan but agonisingly wide. Singh swept a lovely pass over the top to Dyduch that was half volleyed over. Zgora Boret impressed late on with good strength and linked well with Nicholson and Oke.
However, nothing Croydon could throw at Hounslow was reaping rewards and the match ended 1-0.
Summary – Early injuries and squandered chances meant it was a bad win, but 3 points could prove the saving grace in the long term.
Player of match: Maka Julios – High energy, great attitude and as slick and ground covering as an oil spill.