Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Croydon 2 Tunbridge Wells 3

Match 111/17/1561 - Easter Monday, 2nd April 2018 - SCEFL

Croydon (0) 2 Paul-Robinson 55 Chin 76
Tunbridge Wells (2) 3 Lawrence 7 Trespaderne 15 Harris 63
Headcount: 80

Entrance: £3.50 Senior
Programme: £2
Mileage: 92/7,589

Momentum as much as the points gained will be key for Tunbridge Wells through the last month of the season leading to their SCEFL Cup Final appearance on 5th May. Following Saturday’s postponement, this hard-earned win at Croydon, who sat fifth in the table at start of play, maintains the feel-good factor following the Crowborough semi-final.

The threatened deluge that was supposed to see Noah sailing down high streets did not materialise although a spell of heavy rain en-route caused some concern as to the match going ahead.

But thankfully, on arrival at the Croydon Arena, the weather was dry and the players were warming up. On my previous visit three years ago, I remember slopping through the mud of a building site to the entrance, but now there is a smart new entrance and car park. Inside though, seemingly very little has changed.

After Croydon had seen the first chance of the game, a shot from Nathan Campbell that cleared the bar, Tunbridge Wells took the lead when a free kick from Tommy Lawrence deflected off the wall and looped over a desperately back-pedalling goalkeeper who could only help it over the line.

In an exciting start to the game, the home side were unlucky not to get back on terms a minute later when Campbell struck a post.

The Wells went two-up after 15 minutes when a mix-up between the goalkeeper, Alex Hewitt, and a defender presented Jared Trespaderne with an opportunity to drive the ball into the roof of the net from around 12 yards.

The Croydon defence looked unsettled by a poor start that had been of their own making and they looked likely to concede again every time the Wells attacked.

But they worked their way into the game in the closing five minutes of the half and Cameron Hall bravely saved at the feet of Martin Sontan and, following a mistake from Ollie Cook, similarly at the feet of Lauris Chin.

Hall was grateful in time-added when the ball escaped his grasp after collecting a high cross but, as it ran loose, Chin fired over.

Croydon started the second half brightly with Hall saving at his near post a header from Campbell but it was the introduction of the portly Ashley Paul-Johnson that changed the direction of the game. There is no kind way of saying that Johnson doesn’t look a typical footballer, portly is a very kind description. But, he looked like a player that has played above this level at some time in the past. After a free kick was given away cheaply just outside of the box, Johnson drove the free kick into the bottom corner.

Tunbridge Wells restored their two goal advantage five minutes later when a ball over the top reached Jack Harris who powered through a couple of challenges to fire home.

Johnson continued to direct all the attacking intentions of Croydon, heading against the bar after 63 minutes and seeing another free kick deflected over by the wall whilst Chin wasted another of his pin-point crosses by heading over.

Croydon were reduced to ten men when Bryan Akongo picked up a second yellow for a foul, however they reduced the deficit once more when Chin’s header crept in at the far post following a free kick delivered from the left.

Tunbridge Wells had to withstand a good deal of pressure in the closing stages with Daniel Hector on the right wing getting a lot more joy once Alfie Hall had needed to be substituted but the chances that were created were wasted and the points returned to the royal town.

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