An understrength Croydon side dug in well to share the spoils against the red-hot Civil Service team at Club Langley.
The Civil Service team were founder members of the Football league in 1863, however, their women’s side did not begin until as recently as 2018.
The teams lined up with Reds of Civil Service playing with the sun and wind behind them. The Trams decided to stick with their yellow kits, but it was all red for danger in the opening exchanges on the hard pitch. The Civil Service started with a High line knowing the wind would make it hard for Croydon to clear their lines. Jade Asagba, returning from injury, donned the gloves and her height was a real asset as the first attempt by the Civil Service was lofted high towards the goal. A huge sigh emitted as Jade plucked it easily from the air. Croydon were penned in but did manage to counter well. Yoyo Oke had a left foot shot blocked, that Emma Dyduch touched on but was knocked away for a corner. Kacie Nadison Singh floated it over but the tall centre back for the reds cleared well. Jenny Brown was wily in her good use of floor passing and movement on the left and did a good one-two with Oke before her cross to Dyduch was held well by the Reds Keeper. The quick passing and pressure of the Civil Service was starting to produce better chances for them. A good movement saw a shot on the edge caught comfortably by stand-in Asagba, who moments later dived low to prevent another good chance for the reds.
In defence the Reds formed a red wall as Croydon pressed, Oke, Dyduch and Olivia Gregory all involved in a pinball scramble in the Civil Service box, but all attempts blocked. It was clear the Civil Service side were more mobile and energetic in their attacks. Direct and with good interplay, another Asagba low save stopped the reds from opening the scoring. The Croydon goal was being bombarded but from distance. Asagba was quick as well as strong, saving low at the feet and also a nice catch from a thunderbolt free kick, and then climbing high to catch an audacious lob attempt too.
It was against the run of play then that Oke latched onto a clearance on the right. She battled against her marker well and fed Dyduch down the line. Dyduch was able to also take on her marker and crossed low and hard. Singh controlled well, did a skilful turn and let fly, low and hard with her left, burying the ball into the corner of the net beyond the diving reds keeper. 1-0.
This spurred Croydon on and they then had several good chances. Siobhan McCay, showed good composure in the middle to feed Matylda Katana on the left wing. Katana turned her marker and curled over a lovely cross, which was just too high for onrushing attackers. Brown was also utilising the left wing soon after and her through ball to Dyduch was taken well, but the shot was hit well wide.
Civil Service countered and with the wind behind them managed to get the equaliser. A good move out of defence and direct through the middle saw Asagba get down well to save the initial shot, only for the rebound to fall to an on-coming attacker who tapped it in. 1-1
With 3 substitutes it was easy for the Civil Service to rotate a few players. For Croydon with the bare 11, it was time for Asagba to come out of goal, with Dyduch replacing her. Croydon started the brighter. Using the wind and their pace, Singh sent a nice diagonal pass out wide to Oke. Good wing play saw Gregory weave into the box. Her neat turn clipped the defender for a corner. Singh took it short and got it back, found Gregory, who volleyed a belter against the upright.
Civil Service were not finished and were quick on the counter. A long shot was easily caught by a relieved Dyduch in goal. More inter-passing from Croydon saw Megan Webster slip through to Oke and Singh to combine before Gregory lobbed the ball inches wide. Katana and Oke combined well as the battling Oke had a strong shot blocked and then cleared.
In attack Civil Service had some skilful players who twisted and turned but with Kamilla Ovrevik and Asagba sweeping, as soon as one was beat the other managed to cover.
A water break was called as the Spring heat descended on the players. McCay, who had been a solid wall in the centre went in goal and Dyduch again released up front. Ovrevik hoofed a massive clearance immediately to Dyduch who was barged off the ball as she went for goal. Singh shot from the resultant free-kick into the Red Wall, and Brown struck the rebound goal-bound, but for the safe hands of their keeper.
Tiredness in Croydon’s players started to tell as Civil Service pushed for the winner. Individual brilliance was nearly rewarded, but thankfully the post stopped the solo effort. Up the other end Oke again battled well against the centre back, found Gregory on the right who crossed for Dyduch, but the keeper was alert and caught well. It was an end-to-end final few minutes. Ovrevik had to sweep to intercept another piece of solo magic, and McCay mis-caught a shot, thankful as it bobbled wide for a corner. White, who had been solid at right back, then went into goal, and McCay, cleared. A good powerful effort was parried by White, with outstretching asagba, clearing the lines as Croydon held on. Injured in her bravery, Asagba was appointed to don the gloves in the dying minutes and amazingly, the Trams held on. 1-1
POM: the whole defence fought to the end; however, Alex White just nudged the Player of the Match. Cool as a cucumber at right back and safe in goal