Croydon WFC 6-3 Walton Casuals
Football returned to the muddy prairie of Beckenham, the Club Langley pitches. With Lockdown lifted, Croydon women had their first match in a month. With several players returning and Belgique signing Yoni Stals making her debut, Croydon fielded their strongest team yet this season.
The Tangerines of Walton however, started brighter as Croydon Women struggled to adjust to new formats and players. Walton opened the scoring with a good opportunist’s goal. A lofty clearance by their No15 lobbed the Croydon defence and their fast striker nipped through to slip past Steph Liddle in goal 0-1.
This woke up Croydon up and good play by Jenny Brown on the right fed Yoyo Oke. She beat her marker and whipped over a good cross. Georgina Fangawa arrived to control, take on her favoured left and hit a fierce shot that the Casuals keeper parried for the trams first corner. Gracie Leigh Dunkley hit it low and hard but it was cleared. Walton countered and Liddle made 3 good saves on the bounce to foil the Walton attackers. The resultant corner was scrambled into Liddle’s safe hands.
Kacie Nadison started to press forward with Matylda Katana, returning from her goalkeeping heroics in the Cup game. Twice Kacie shot from the edge of the Walton’s box , both times the mud making the ball look heavy and not enough power to trouble the Casual’s keeper. The Casual’s were passing well but it was Croydon on the right with Yoni, Jenny and Maya Reber, back from University, who linked most impressively. Walton looked nimbler through the team and Tash Wright was deemed to have fouled her adversary in a 50/50 challenge near the half way line. No one expected the audacity of the Walton player, who ran up and struck the ball almost half the pitch and over the leaping Liddle’s fingertips into the goal. 0-2
Rokeya Gladwin-Troy who had run herself ragged up front, was replaced in the centre by Yolo. Yoni showed great skill on the right to pass her marker and curled over a hard cross, that Yolo glance-headed past the Walton keeper and into the onion bag. 1-2
There followed sustained pressure for Walton, with Steph showing incredible agility getting down to several feet and reflex saves, as well as poor finishing keeping them from adding to their tally. Lucy Casey came on to right back allowing Brown more attacking options and the defence more height. This time it was the audacity of Kacie, who from the left corner flag, looked up and curled a lofted shot over the Walton keeper and somehow Croydon had equalised against the run of play 2-2.
Matylda made a dashing run down the left, cut inside and was through on goal when got hacked from behind. The ref pointed to the spot. Up stepped Yolo but the Walton keeper read her shot and managed to save it. It rebounded back to Yolo who was hassled as she tried to connect and the ball slipped just wide. On the right Maya was running rings around the busy Casuals left back and she twice had crosses that their keeper was able to intercept in quick succession. It was end to end with both teams looking likely to score. Again Steph foiled an attack by racing to the strikers feet. Maya saw a shot got narrowly wide before Walton beat the offside again, beat Liddle, but failed to score with the goal begging. Georgina had a good chance go soaring over, as the ref blew for the half time oranges.
Walton came out the fastest for the second half. Steph made a great save - tipping a shot over the bar. Jenny was able to clear the corner. Yoni picked the ball up in midfield and fed Maya pelting down the right. Maya unleashed a hard shot, the casual keeper did well to parry away only for the quick reacting Georgina to put into the empty net. 3-2. Yoni was now mastering the midfield. She fed Yolo who beat her marker and shot. The keeper again saved well and it went for a corner. This was taken quickly and Lucy lofted a long ball that sailed just over the bar. Jenny was now moved to left back and linked well with a revitalised Georgina. Her turn of pace was causing the Tangerines problems as time after time she peeled away. As Georgina darted through her cross was intercepted back to her and instantly she shot, narrowly going over.
Walton were not finished yet and again Steph raced out to prevent a certain goal. Maya got free again and her cross was headed just wide by Yolo. The Casuals almost strolled through the Trams defence with intricate passing only for the striker to place her shot inches wide with Steph beaten. Jade Asagba and Megan Webster stood strong at the heart to counter another tangerine wave of attacks out-muscling their opponents. A long ball was sent out wide, Lucy did well to left foot first time to Yoni, her through-ball was sublime to Georgina who beat her marker and slipped her shot under the keeper. 4-2. Walton again responded with a chance where the Croydon goal resembled a volley ball court, before Steph finally came off her line to catch it out of the air. It was all Walton pressing again as Steph was forced into two great saves, one a deflected shot in the box she did well to smother with the Tangerines preying on any morsels if she hadn’t held on. Croydon had a penalty appeal turned down as Rokeya and Georgina combined and Georgina went down in the box. Yolo took the loose ball and hit it just wide. Yoni was magnifique, curling from the edge to put the game beyond any Brussel Sprout (doubt), 5-2. Walton pulled one back, after Tash had cleared a shot off the line, before Georgina got her second half hat-trick showing great persistence as she rushed through to make it 6-3 and three points for the Trams.
The Tangerines were in Plum Creek, and it was goodnight Mary-Lou, but the Trams had ridden their luck, and the post-match celebrations were as much from relief as they were from a good performance.
Players of Match were joint between Steph Liddle and Georgina Fangawa, although everyone had raised their games after a shaky start.
Westside visit on Sunday 13th before league leaders Leatherhead host the Trams on the 20th.