In Croydon Women's past history, the month of May has been one of title wins and Cup Finals. Fast forward to 2021, an early kick off and at the end of a Covid ravaged season and it was not surprising that Croydon struggled to only get 10 players for the trip.
Walton Casuals decided not to relinquish a player, so in the Surrey heat on the Coronation prairie, it was 11 versus 10.
There was nothing Casual about Walton’s opening play. Their number 9 looked particularly sharp and quick and from the outset she was thwarted by a Jade Asagba interception. Moments later, Lucy Casey, donning the gloves in her first game back since December, was able to save a long shot that bounced awkwardly on the hard pitch. Asagba again blocked another attack out for a corner which Casey was able to catch.
It wasn’t all one-way traffic and Siobhan McCay battled well in the centre to feed Jenny Brown on the right. Brown did well to skip past her marker and her low cross for Emma Dyduch was cleared.
The extra player was showing as the oranges of Walton packed the midfield and used their wings. With Kamilla Ovrevik, Megan Webster and Asagba forming a solid yellow wall, the oranges had two tactics: long shots which Casey was catching easily and through balls. These were dealt with well by the defence and Casey when needed.
In between assaults, Croydon had a corner after Dyduch hassled their defender into the error. Unfortunately, the corner was hit too long with limited players in the box. Matylda Katana did a good run down the left beating two players and found Dyduch in the middle who’s first time shot was saved. Walton kept pressing and had a good spell where poor finishing and safe hands kept the match goal-less. Dyduch had another effort, but mis-hit her shot and following a last gasp slide tackle for Ovrevik, Walton’s corner floated against the bar.
Oranges and Lemons rang the bells of St Clements and the ref blew for half time 0-0.
The Casuals made several changes and started the better. Nice work on the left saw a good cross, well held by Casey who also saved a long-range effort, her height proving an asset.
Casey lofted the clearance to Dyduch in midfield, who passed to on-rushing Kacie Nadison Singh. She dribbled through two players but was impeded and a free kick given. The Orange wall was enough to block Singh's effort and once again Walton countered.
This time Croydon's luck run out. A long mis-kick from 40 plus yards out on the wing, caught the wind and despite the stretching arms of Casey, sailed into the top corner of the goal. The Oranges had been jammy but it was just desserts on the possession of play they'd had. 1-0.
Walton pushed for more. Jade was able to intercept a through ball for a corner. She then headed out the corner. The next corner was well headed by advancing casuals player, but it went just wide.
Up the other end Katana had found her form and was darting in and out on the left, her cross to Dyduch was well intercepted and held by the Walton’s keeper.
More Walton pressure saw a great volley go wide and Casey make a good save from the left winger who had dribbled past two lunges before firing her shot. Inevitably Walton got their second. A nice move and curling pass behind the defence was met at the far post, and slipped past Casey’s dive. 2-0.
A water break was provided and a much-needed relief for the Trams who were running out of steam. McCay replaced Casey in goal, and it was shortly after that the Oranges got their third. As Croydon players tired, tackles were getting later and the ref gave a free kick to Walton on the far edge of the area. It was struck well through the mass of players in the box, and unsighted, McCay couldn’t stop it nestling into the bottom corner. 3-0.
New life seemed to breathe into Croydon. Katana on the left dazzled in yellow, cut inside to Singh who turned and shot, but was well saved. Seconds later Singh received the ball in Midfield and threaded the ball through to Katana who beat the off-side trap and slotted home to give the Trams some hope. 3-1.
Walton were foiled by a lunging block by Asagba that hard working Natasha Wright then over-head kicked out. McCay made the best save of the match, diving low to palm away a good low shot from close range. Casey was finding her feet back in her favoured Centre of Midfield and even had a long-range effort sail just over with 5 minutes to go, but alas it was Goodnight Mary Lou for the Oranges who avenged their earlier defeat in the season.
Playrt Of The Match: Kamilla Ovrevik – great tackles and good distribution from defence.