Croydon FC get a second chance to taste cup glory on Saturday when they host the high-flying Horsham YMCA in the FA Vase second qualifying round.
Given the non-league team’s dreadful performances in the league so far – P8 W1 L7 – these early-season cup runs are a welcome opportunity for escape for the Trams.
A 3-1 defeat last Saturday to Brentwood Town – managed by Dean Holdsworth, the former Wimbledon striker – ended for another year Croydon’s FA Cup dream in the preliminary stages. It had been a competition in which Dickson Gill’s side had out-performed itself compared with its results in the Southern Counties East League – or Kent League to any normal football fan.
Croydon were overwhelmed at Brentwood, a team playing its football two leagues above them. Only in the last 25 minutes did Croydon hold Brentwood in check. The 50-strong travelling contingent points to the prospect of improved fortunes for the club, with much of the support coming from the now extensive reserves and junior squad set-up. Getting through to the fourth stage of the FA Cup was a real achievement.
So there’s reasonable hopes for similar success in the Vase when Horsham’s players and fans try to negotiate their way around the building site at Croydon Arena.
The Sussex club from the Southern Combination league operate at the same level as Croydon, but have much better recent form, being unbeaten in the league. They also beat Croydon Athletic 2-0 in the extra preliminary qualifying round way back in mid-August.
Horsham’s league form suggests that they will make easy meat of Gill’s team, with a massive 35-goal goal difference in just those nine league games, having scored 40.
AFC Croydon Athletic travel to Hollands and Blair – no, not that one – who are the revelation team in the Kent League this season, top of the table after promotion last season from the dim depths of the Kent Invicta League. Hollands and Blair will fancy their chances after striking six past Holmesdale last week.
In the senior side’s absence, Mayfield Road will see Athletic’s under-18s face European competition on Sunday in a free entry match against Norwegian team Eiker Kvikk.
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