Croydon Women gained a much deserved victory in their first open age match for over 20 years.
At Club Langley, on a dry and solid pitch, the sun made conditions difficult but it didn’t stop the two teams trying to outdo each other on the strawlike turf. It was a good test for Croydon as they enter into the unknown. Their side comprised of several players from last season’s U-18s and new trialists, and the trusted 'Carlisle United' spare kit was worn due to lateness of new kit arrival.
The Cardinals of Woking set up a defensive formation and were very organised.
Croydon looked energetic and used their wingers Tammie Adekanmbi and Maya Reber to good effect from the off. In defence Megan Webster and Kacie Nadison Singh did some neat passing out to the midfield where Jenny Brown worked hard box to box leading her troops. The organised Woking defence played a tight off side trap and The Trams were stalled several times in the opening 20 minutes.
It was Georgina Fangawa who pounced onto to some good wing play from Tammie who had the first shot, neatly parried away for a corner from ex-tram Saskia Priestley.
The coaches (Lenin and Uche) rotated play on several occasions to give players breathers in the scorching heat and at 22 minutes a water break was imposed by the ref. Woking had chances as well, but the strong solid play of Chantae Wallace and Megan and speed of Yolanda Oke were good foils. A few crosses were well caught by new goalie Steph Liddle, who also had to smother an on-coming attackers effort too. Steph was lucky not to be penalised for a mis-kick to a 'Cardinal' striker, who lobbed her but thankfully the ball also went wide of the Trams goal. As Croydon counter attacked, Jenny neatly side stepped on the edge and hit a low drive which Georgina was able to control and then blast into the Woking goal, only to be judged Off-side. 0-0 half time.
In the 2nd half it was the fittest who took over. The tall No8 defender for Woking seemed to intercept every Croydon attack and was also overlapping as a winger. Croydon had their own ball winner in Lucy Casey, who constantly robbed the 'cards' and dealt sensible short passes to team mates, did one – twos, or hit passes over the red defence line for Yolanda and Tammie to chase. It was Woking though who scored. The Cards number 8 defender-come-winger curled a beauty over Steph to her attacker at the far post to tap in – but the offside rule again keeping the score goalless.
With Yolanda moving up front and Woking tiring it was looking good for Croydon. Maya was back on the left and had a shot go just wide. Jenny found a second wave of energy and was covering every blade urging her team on. On the 70th minute Jenny received the ball just outside the crowded Woking box, she hit a low bouncer and it soured through the players and past the unsighted Saskia into the bottom corner. 1-0 to the Trams.
Woking almost responded immediately with Steph having to race to the feet of an on-rushing Woking player who was clean through. Croydon were also pushing and another clever ball from Lucy found Yolanda, who beat her defender and squared to Jess Clarke to face Saskia one on one. Jess controlled the ball well and tried to pass it into the corner. It beat Saskia but alas was also inches wide of the post. Several more attacks brought saves from Maya , Yolanda and Tammie. The Woking linesman had put on too much hand sanitiser and as he flagged an offside the flag shot out of hands for some light relief. Sadly towards the end of the game, a Woking player twisted her ankle badly on the hard ground and was stretchered off.
The Final Whistle came much to the relief of the exhausted players. A good clean match, a justified score-line, and a good advert for the women’s game.
Coaches Player of match: Lucy Casey.
Croydon have several friendlies lined up which are supporter-free re Covid, however they are still searching for new players. Look on the home page of the website for more details.