GENE GERMAINERS rounds up the non-league football action for September, which has seen local sides thriving
Two away wins in four days have propelled Croydon FC to fourth place in the Southern Counties East League Premier Division, just in time for Non-League Weekend and the visit of third-placed Bearsted to Croydon Arena on Saturday.
But flying high at the top of the table is AFC Croydon Athletic, following their 2-0 win at home on Saturday over Deal Town. Nahum Green and Vierra Medina were the on-target for the Rams.
Athletic are away to fifth-placed Lordswood on Saturday, after they face a London Senior Cup first-round tie at Mayfield Road tomorrow evening.
Croydon FC’s latest strong of results suggest that their young squad, including several teenagers from the coaching programmes run by the club sponsors, the Kinetic Foundation, are really coming together very impressively.
Having won 2-0 at Erith Town last Wednesday, the Trams came back from 1-0 after a seventh-minute penalty on Saturday to win 4-1 at lowly Hollands and Blair, Lauris Chin scoring a hat-trick in just four minutes early in the second half, with Bradley Wilson wrapping things up for Harry Hudson’s side.
It all means that Croydon have played 16 games before the end of September, more than anyone else in the Southern Counties East League. The 11 league games, three FA Cup ties and a Kent Senior Cup game, have all helped to gel the young and inexperienced squad together.
The league positions have changed more times than the Kama Sutra. Before Saturday, Croydon’s best performance was at Cray Valley PM, winning 3-2, a few days after Cray Valley beat their opponents 6-0.
Croydon’s new youth team has also been performing well, including a 5-1 win against Tunbridge Wells, including three goals from Khaliq Raymond-Callender.
These games are starting to attract scouts from Football League and even Premier League clubs. A FA Youth Cup match between Croydon and Athletic at the Arena had visits from interested parties representing Norwich, Wolves and Brighton, though the latter was either brave or foolish for wearing a Seagulls’ top in SE25.
Croydon won that match 3-2 and are away to Sutton United tonight.
AFC’s senior side’s climb up the league table was not helped by a 2-0 derby defeat at home to Croydon, but elsewise they seem to have adjusted to the loss of their top scorer Warren Mfula, who went to Dartford.
Another of the area’s non-league clubs, AC London, had mixed results through September. They began the month winning 6-0 against Bagshot, but lost 5-0 in the FA Vase to Horley Town, and lost 1-0 to the exotically named Deportivo Galicia (who are based near Heathrow).
Whyteleafe are top of the Bostik South, are unbeaten at home but have mixed results away.
Croydon FC are offering fans free entry to the Arena on Saturday if they download the Sportswik app and show your phone at the turnstiles. The game kicks off at 3pm, and could be particularly attractive to Palace fans with a spare Saturday. They might even get to see that rarity: their team scoring a goal.
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