Trams can’t mask delight as Campbell keeps them in the cup

NON-LEAGUE ROUND-UP: It’s another FA Cup weekend coming up, at least for three local sides, as GENE GERMAINERS reports

The glamour of the FA Cup comes to Croydon’s non-league football this weekend

Until the Croydon riots in 2011, AC London did not exist as a football club. This weekend, they are playing in the Emirates FA Cup preliminary round.

AC (which stands for Academic Club) were founded as a youth side in July 2012, adding a full senior side the following year. The club was formed by Prince Chowdary when he was just 16. Without a ground of their own, they have played at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre, then at Banstead, and this season they are based at Whyteleafe’s Church Road ground.

After a year in the Kent Invicta League, they now play in the Combined Counties League, making Chowdary the youngest manager in senior football.

He’s probably also the youngest club chairman and youngest club secretary, because he does those jobs, too.

In the FA Cup extra preliminary round at the start of the month, AC beat Crawley Down Gatwick 3-2, putting them through to play Egham Town this Friday night.

Croydon FC, too, have another round of the FA Cup at Croydon Arena this Saturday, when they are hoping Nathan Campbell, the hero of the previous round, will be fit to play, probably wearing a protective face mask.

Following a horrific eye socket injury suffered in their FA Cup tie at Whitstable, Campbell is due to have his first game for almost a fortnight tonight, in a league fixture against Rusthall at the Arena.

The Trams won at Whitstable 3-2, a remarkable result given that they last time the two sides met, in the league last March, Croydon had lost 7-0.

On the spot: Jamie McGeoghegan

The Croydon side that played this season included just one player who had been in the team five months ago, Jamie McGeoghegan, and it was McGeoghegan who put the Trams ahead after two minutes from the penalty spot. After then conceding twice in two minutes, Croydon went in at half-time on level terms thanks to a header by striker Jeff Duah-Kessie.

The Trams’ unlikely winner came after 80 minutes from Campbell, who had damaged his eye socket just five minutes into the game but somehow was carried through to the end on adrenalin.

Croydon now face Faversham Town, of the Bostik, nee Ryman, nee Isthmian League South this Saturday.

Faversham go into the tie off a set of mixed recent results: they won 5-0 at VCD Athletic last Saturday, but then lost 2-1 at home to Ramsgate last night.

Liam King looks like Faversham’s danger man, having scored twice at the weekend, though after last night’s game it seems that the squad is facing a hard training session tomorrow. “Obviously the league is the priority,” was what Faversham manager Ray Turner had to say after last night’s defeat, “but the cup gives us the opportunity to put this result to bed very quickly.

“The players will come in on Thursday and we’ll get it right on Saturday.”

Whyteleafe also have a home draw in the FA Cup, and will face Erith Town. Whyteleafe only started their season on Saturday with a 1-1 draw against Greenwich Borough, leading through Charlie Ponstance before Boro equalised with an own goal.

This was followed with a 3-0 win against VCD Athletic last night.

Not facing any FA Cup action this weekend is Croydon Athletic, as for the fifth year running they fell at the first hurdle, losing 3-2 to Sheppey United.

Players from all Croydon’s sides appear to have been in the wars of late: Athletic lost 2-0 to Crowborough last night in a league game which lasted nearly two hours, following an 18-minute break in play after Tom Penson suffered a head injury. An ambulance was called, but Pension was able to walk off the pitch apparently bruised but not seriously hurt.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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