The race for the top is still wide open, says AFC Croydon Athletic boss Kevin Rayner

Thursday 29th December 2016

AFC CROYDON ATHLETIC manager Kevin Rayner says his side are involved in an exciting title race.

The Rams are now in fifth-place in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division table on 41 points from 21 league outings and are five points adrift of league leaders Ashford United.

“It was great to get our home form back on track as we have now won our last two home games 5-1 and more impressively 4-1 against Cray Valley on Christmas Tuesday,” said Rayner.

“We haven’t lost away from home for five months and our home form had slipped after an impeccable opening to the season.

“That said and done our form is good and we have added three or four players to our squad to cover one or two unlucky injuries, which had led to us covering by shuffling players around rather than bringing in players.

“We have added Junior Kaffo from Chatham Town, Jack Higgins from Chipstead and Ibrahim Kallon from Leighton Town to bolster the squad and give us a chance next year to keep at the top end of the table.”

Crowborough Athletic are second in the table, a point behind Ashford United with a game in hand and have now extended their impressive record breaking unbeaten run to 27 games.

Ashford United, Crowborough Athletic, Sheppey United, Hollands & Blair, AFC Croydon Athletic and Sevenoaks Town all have a say in the title race as only six points separate them.

“The league is really tight and I’m not surprised to see Crowborough emerge as favourites although there is a long way to go,” said Rayner.

“The games against teams in the top six or seven in the table are must-win games and the only blemish we have was a loss to Hollands & Blair which changed when we had a player sent-off.

“We had beaten Crowborough and Cray Valley and drew with Ashford.  The other sides record against the top six or seven will be the difference and the race for the top is still wide open.

“I was impressed with our opening 45 minutes against Cray Valley and we were solid and back to where we were.”

Rayner takes his side to Eden Park Avenue on Bank Holiday Monday, 2 January 2017, playing a side that have extended their miserable run to 11 straight defeats and 15 without any win.

Beckenham Town suffered a 2-0 defeat at Fisher in the basement battle on Tuesday afternoon, a result that puts Fisher one point behind them in the relegation dog-fight.

“Our next fixture is a local game at Beckenham and they will be desperate to get something as they are on an awful run at present,” said Rayner.

“We travel with a pretty full squad with just Tom Penson suspended and Liam Harwood injured, but expect another tough game in which we will need to be fully concentrated to get the result we require.

“We finished the year on a high note and look to continue that form next month, which will keep us in the mix.

“There must still be six or seven clubs that think they can win the league this year. Favourites Crowborough are on a great run but even with that form they haven’t got away from anyone yet so there’s still all to play for and we need to focus on our next game and keep improving if we wish to have any chance.”

AFC Croydon Athletic striker Warren Mfula has scored 31 goals this season.

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Beckenham Town  v  AFC Croydon Athletic
Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division
Bank Holiday Monday 2nd January 2017
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Eden Park Avenue, Beckenham, Kent BR3 3JL