Dickson Gill, Croydon FC’s vice-chairman and coach, returns to the dugout at Croydon Arena this afternoon from a two match touchline ban just in time for the derby clash with AFC Croydon Athletic.
The Rams – that’s Athletic – will try not to be distracted by any vocal interventions from the Trams’ Gill, and will need to keep a close eye on striker Karl Douglin, who put three past them in the London Senior Cup meltdown at Mayfield Road in October.
Douglin has been an important part of Croydon’s revival in the league. He netted twice in both of FC’s last two wins, away at Rochester United and at home to Erith Town.
Until then, Croydon’s great form in cup games has not been matched by their dire performances in the Southern Counties East League, the competition in which they face Athletic today. Croydon left it until the last Saturday in November to secure a home win. They have, though, now escaped from the bottom place in the division, and are now seven points clear of bottom-placed Holmesdale, with Douglin scoring in every match this month.
Indeed, Croydon are now only two points behind AFC, whose modest form will disappoint club chairman Paul Smith after last year’s promotion to this level.
A win last time they were on the road will offer the “Rams’ Army” of supporters hope that they can maintain their league position ahead of their local rivals. Although the Rams have lost three of the four league games in December, these losses have only been by single goals, so expect a tightly fought contest this afternoon.
Trams – the transport not the players – are running to Croydon Arena and buses to Portland Road for the 3pm Croydon Arena kick-off. Follow the signs to negotiate the maze into the ground created by the new Oasis Academy building works.
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