Rock-bottom Croydon ready for the rough stuff with Bearsted

NON-LEAGUE NEWS: Croydon Athletic’s FA Cup adventure is over for another year, while Whyteleafe came through a tough replay and are flying in their Isthmian league. But its tough times for Croydon FC. Here’s this week’s round-up of news from the managers of the area’s three biggest non-league clubs.

Craig Davies – Croydon

High hopes of the first points of the season were dashed by a one-goal defeat at Crowborough last Saturday. With other results going against them, the Trams are now rock bottom of the Southern Counties East League Premier Division

We were a lot better against Crowborough Athletic in terms of stability in defence.

Apart from the goal, they only created one or two good chances, which in recent weeks probably would have gone against us. We had better control, possession which created a few very good chances but unfortunately we couldn’t find a breakthrough.

I remain positive after the performance as we looked better but ultimately we still don’t have any points.

Six games in, Croydon FC are struggling. Croydon Athletic, though, are in a position to push on

I expect a physical game this weekend, and that’s something we need to start to cope with. Bearsted will want to rough us up, but we will need to back ourselves and battle for everything.

Kevin Rayner – Croydon Athletic

A 1-0 defeat at Uckfield Town saw the end of the Rams’ FA Cup dream for another year – though they had made club history by reaching the First Qualifying Round. A midweek battering in the London Senior Cup – losing 4-1 to Clapton – was an opportunity for some players to show the manager what they could do

It was really disappointing to lose our first game of the season on Saturday and go out of the FA Cup.

We had some great chances, but the luck just wasn’t with us. Sam Butter crashed a drive against their bar from 30 yards. After that, we squandered chance after chance as we couldn’t score. Poor finishing and great last ditch defending kept us out.

We were dominating but conceded late on from a scrambled corner, which was Uckfield’s only shot on target in the second half. It just wasn’t meant to be. A real opportunity has gone begging. I wish Uckfield well as they battled superbly, their goalkeeper scooped most of the man of the match awards on offer on the day.

After that disappointment, we had a low-key London Senior Cup tie at home to Clapton. It was always earmarked for a game to have a look at a couple and give game time to others. It was an opportunity for players to get game time. We made seven or eight changes, and that showed, as we lacked any fluidity or rhythm. We were well-beaten.

Saturday is now the next important game, in the FA Vase at home to Lingfield. Lingfield have hit form at the right time and we know a lot of their players, so will expect a tough game. Our u23s manager, Dan Burnett, is actually the Lingfield keeper, so both sides will be familiar. I would expect nothing less than a tough battle. We will need to produce a strong performance to progress.

Harry Hudson – Whyteleafe

A 0-0 draw at Corinthian Casuals in the FA Cup last Saturday saw ‘Leafe’s midweek fixture re-arranged to make way for the cup’s First Qualifying Round Replay, which Whyteleafe came from a goal down to win 2-1

I think we definitely did enough to win on Saturday. In terms of chances created we should have dispatched at least one to take ourselves through. It was important we didn’t dwell on that missed opportunity and we went into the match on Tuesday night.

I would like to think we are well-equipped to deal with the physical side of football. The young players have had a good grounding last year in the SCEFL Premier. I think they show they can mix it up when needed. That being said, we have a spine of experienced players in Nathan Campbell, Corey Holder and Bentley Graham who are excellent for our younger players. There is a genuine belief we can cause any team problems on our day.

Whyteleafe’s travelling fans have been enjoying the season so far

The game on Tuesday was a far more even affair than Saturday. Casuals bossed us in the first half and we looked rattled. I was trying to get in at half-time on level terms to re-shuffle a few things, but Casuals got the goal their dominance deserved from the penalty spot. Tyler McCarthy also made a huge save from the last kick of the first half to keep the tie alive.

We re-shaped things at half-time. I thought we were very good in the second-half creating enough chances to win the game in the 90 minutes.

Over the course of the two ties I thought we deserved to go through but credit to Casuals in the first-half – they had us on the ropes. It showed great character from our boys to turn around another 1-0 deficit at half-time to win 2-1.

It is back to league action on Saturday, and Sittingbourne is a difficult place to go and pick up points. They have threats, including a huge long throw in, which we will need to manage in order to come away with the result we want.

It is always interesting to see how clubs approach cup competitions. There have been some freakish results already in the Velocity Trophy, which we play in on Tuesday. We haven’t done ourselves any favours having to play two replays in the last two weeks, so we will see how the lads fair after Saturday, which will of course be our priority. I saw Egham beat Staines in the FA Cup last week though – what a great first game for their new manager, Ashley Smith!

On Monday the draw for the FA Cup Second Qualifying Round was announced. We will play St Albans City, who play in the Vanarama National League South. This fixture will be played a week on Saturday, September 22.


Croydon Athletic
Sat Sep 15: v Lingfield (H) – FA Vase 2nd Qualifying Rd

Sat Sep 15: v Sittingbourne (A) – Bostik South East Div 1
Tue Sep 18: v Egham Town (A) – Velocity Trophy

Sat Sep 22: v Bearsted (H) – SCEFL Premier Division

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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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