Goals by Covers keep Croydon on schedule in cup tie

Croydon AthleticNON-LEAGUE NEWS: The part-time players of AFC Croydon Athletic will be able to enjoy their Christmas lunches, as their festive fixtures finish tomorrow with a game at Mole Valley’s delightfully named Leg of Mutton Field.

Croydon FC and Whyteleafe’s squads will need to be a little more abstemious next Tuesday, since they both have playing commitments on Boxing Day.

Athletic’s match will mark a half-way point in the season. Promotion from Div 1 of the Combined Counties League is looking unlikely in 2013 for the phoenix club, as they stand in midtable after their 1-0 loss to California and Eversley last Saturday at Croydon Arena.

That defeat could prove key as the Hampshire club now sits in the third promotion place that Athletic might still aspire to come April. All six points have been conceded to the Hampshire side in their two league games.

Tomorrow’s opposition may prove easier to overcome. Mole Valley were relegated from the Premier Division last season.

Both Croydon FC and Whytleafe play weaker teams on Boxing Day.

Croydon travel to Chessington and Hook’s Chalky Lane ground for the 11.30am kick off. Don’t be fooled by the name of the ground – the place drains poorly and a postponement is often a possibility, particularly with the wet weather forecast this weekend.

The sticky pitch caught out Croydon during last year’s version of this match. Much like last season, Chessington and Hook need the points to pull away from the drop zone. The three relegation places look like being contested in the New Year by Chessington, Colliers Wood United, Dorking, Sandhurst Town and the apparently doomed Hartley Witney.

After elimination from the FA Vase by a strong Hanworth Villa team, Croydon’s morale has been boosted by a 2-1 away win in the London Senior Cup on Tuesday at Redbridge, who have been struggling well adrift from the safety zone in the more senior Isthmian  League’s North Division.

Two goals by Josh Covers won it, along with officials’ tolerance of public transport delays that saw Croydon with just seven players ready to go at the planned kick off time. When things did get underway assistant manager Dean Davenport had to do the duty between the sticks until goalkeeper Francis Ameyaw arrived 32 minutes after the delayed kick-off.

Croydon opened the scoring on 14 minutes but it was all square just three minutes later with a Tom Pratt own goal.

It was worth waiting for Ameyaw, as he made some stunning saves and a 20-yard shot from Covers with 10 minutes to go proved decisive.

Croydon will now face Isthmian Premier big boys Hendon at the Croydon Arena in the fourth round of the cup.

Whyteleafe play lower placed Beckenham Town with a 3pm kick off on Boxing day as they try to push on for promotion back to the Isthmian. They will hope to bounce back next Wednesday after a 5-2 setback away at Sutton in the Surrey Senior Cup.

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