Phoenix club fighting for promotion in their first season

NON-LEAGUE NEWS: Both of the borough’s non-league sides are in midweek action this week, provided Croydon FC‘s opposition don’t manage to try to plough up their pitch half an hour before the game.

Croydon FC badgeTonight in the Combined Counties League Premier Division, Croydon FC try to play their match at Chessington and Hook after two previous postponements (7.45pm kick-off, if the pitch passes an inspection).

Chessington and Hook’s boggy Chalky Lane ground saw the last attempt at the game a fortnight ago postponed just 20 minutes before kick-off, after a tractor got so stuck in the mire that a major furrow was excavated on the pitch, making the game unplayable

In Division 1 of the Combined Counties League, AFC Croydon Athletic play Warlingham on Wednesday at the Croydon Arena (7.45pm kick-off).

Athletic – only established last summer out of the ashes of the previous scandal-hit and tragedy-struck club – have kicked on to seek promotion in their first season. They did suffer a setback early in February of losing at home to Feltham and then getting crushed 6-2 on a bitterly cold night at the Arena in the EL Records Premier Cup fourth round by Premier League leaders Epsom and Ewell.

Since then in the league Croydon Athletic have won 4-3 away in the derby at Farleigh Rovers and most spectacularly came away 3-0 winners on Saturday away at Division 1 leaders Westfield. Loyza, Penfold and Jansen were the scorers.

The sweet revenge for the opening day loss at home to Westfield in Athletic’s first league game means that their hopes of securing a promotion slot remain alive. Athletic are eight points behind the team that they are likely to compete with for the final promotion spot, Eversley and California, with a game in hand.

Athletic will hope for calmer times tomorrow night than when they visited Warlingham at Whyteleafe FC’s ground recently, when the game was delayed for 13 minutes because of “crowd trouble”; this being Croydon non-league football, it did not involve a pitch invasion by unruly fans, but saw the players leaving the pitch and “invading” the stands.

Athletic’s prospects have also been boosted by an announcement by the club that Croydon Council is arranging for the repair of their burnt down clubhouse, making the return to their Mayfield Road home ground for the start of next season more likely.

Uncertainty regarding Croydon FC’s tenure at Croydon Arena, with the council’s proposal to build an Academy adjacent to the stadium, has unsettled the team.

An entertaining match at the Arena against likely champions Guernsey where Croydon FC came back from 5-1 down to get back within a goal down before finally succumbing 7-4, has not hidden the team’s loss of form. Croydon FC have conceded 28 goals in their last six games, with their only win in that run a fortunate 3-2 win over lowly Sandhurst Town on Saturday.

If Chessington and Hook can avoid any agricultural ploughing, Croydon FC will hope to improve on last season’s 3-1 loss on the heavy going pitch.

On Saturday, Croydon FC travel to Ash United while Athletics host Knaphill at the Arena.

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