AFC Croydon Athletic 3-6 Croydon - We certainly need to get back to where we were, says Croydon Athletic boss Kevin Rayner

Wednesday 07th December 2016
AFC Croydon Athletic 3 – 6 Croydon
Location Mayfield Stadium, off Mayfield Road, Thornton Heath, Surrey CR7 6DN
Kickoff 07/12/2016 19:45

Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division
Wednesday 7th December 2016
Stephen McCartney reports from Mayfield Road

AFC CROYDON ATHLETIC manager Kevin Rayner says he wants his side to improve their form after capitulating in the Croydon derby.

The Rams have slipped down a place to seventh in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division on 34 points from 18 games – six points adrift of league leaders Ashford United after losing a game that they should have won.

AFC Croydon Athletic took the lead inside the opening five minutes through striker Warren Mfula before Croydon equalised through left-winger Reiss Franklin’s first goal for the club.

The home side produced a carbon copy for their second goal which was finished by right-winger Bradley Wilson, before Croydon equalised for the second time through Jeff Duah-Kessie’s penalty.

Croydon took the lead for the first time just four minutes into the second half through impressive winger Lauris Chin, before Mfula slotted in his 26th goal of the season to make it all-square at 3-3.

Duah-Kessie converted his 18th goal of the season to give Croydon a dramatic 90th minute lead from the spot, before the Rams capitulated and Croydon added further goals from Adam Allen and debutant substitute Ben Tacon to give the final outcome a flattering look.

“A bit disappointing, just gifted goal after goal basically, it’s Christmas come early, I think,” said Rayner after his side’s fourth league defeat of the season.

“We started well enough, should’ve been a couple ahead. Don’t think they got down the pitch.

“A silly back pass and there you go, one-all and done exactly the same again, got ourselves back in front, gave a goal away then.  We seemed to lapse concentration at the start of the second half but got going, dominated 20-30 minutes of the second half, got ourselves level and created chances to get the winner but unfortunately it didn’t happen and another mistake, pen, and that’s it really, 4-3 and even through there was time to get something, the boys just hit the floor and that was it!

“It’s not a great feeling losing it like that, but I felt the scoreline certainly flatters Croydon, but fair play to them, they deserved the victory on the night.”

“I wouldn’t have thought we would’ve scored six but we were giving goals away like Christmas came early but second half we managed to sort it out and we was a lot better for it,” added Croydon manager Dixon Gill, 64, who has guided his club to the last 32 of The Buildbase FA Vase.

“Anybody that’s been involved in football will tell you, you don’t want to come second in a local derby, especially when the same name is yours!

“We’ve got a lot of players out. These are surplice players who came in last Saturday and done well so I’ve given them another chance. Some of them maintained it, some didn’t and that’s what happens. You can’t maintain it over a period of time because they’re young.”

A poor crowd of 72 were treated to a goal fest between two sides that could not defend to save their lives, played a direct style of football on a bobbly pitch at Mayfield Road.

AFC Croydon Athletic opened the scoring following their first attack, timed at four minutes and 32 seconds.

Central midfielder Morgan Jenden played the ball out wide to Wilson on the left, who got in behind Croydon right-back Harry Brockman to whip in a quality low cross across the face of the six-yard box and Mfula guided his shot across the keeper and into the far corner.

Rayner said: “It was a good goal. I thought we started well, on the front foot and didn’t have any problems.”

Gill added: “Well, I think Wesley must’ve had a late night! Both of their goals came from his side. He wasn’t defending correctly, had a nightmare today, poor lad.  In the end we took him off, put another youngster on, an 18-year-old and he’s done well, done very well.”

Croydon goalkeeper Francis Ameyaw almost gifted the hosts a second goal which his woeful clearance was sliced straight to Mfula, who didn’t react in time to punish the mistake and the keeper got away with it.

Croydon grabbed an equaliser through a mistake from Rams’ right-back Jenichell Santos, with only 13 minutes and 42 seconds on the clock.

Croydon right-back Brockman swept a long 50-yard diagonal ball which should have been cleared by Santos, who decided to play a poor back-pass towards his goalkeeper Dan Burnett, who came off his line and spilt the ball to gift Franklin his equaliser. The winger took a touch before drilling his shot into the bottom far corner of an empty goal.

Gill said: “He’s not fit, he’s not had many games so once he’s had enough games, I’m sure he’ll be ok.”

Rayner added: “Moments like that change games and it’s just a bit of poor communication between the keeper and right back and there you go.

“It’s just a gift! We should do better. It’s just poor communication and that’s what happens.”

AFC Croydon Athletic winger James Fray almost scored against his former club, cutting in from the left and cracking a right-footed dipping drive that only just cleared the crossbar from 30-yards.

Croydon produced a clever free-kick in the 19th minute which holding midfielder Adam Allen failed to produce the finish.

Brockman was 30-yards from goal in a central position and instead of shooting towards Burnett’s goal, he played a clever free-kick into Allen, who swept a weak first time shot straight at the goalkeeper from 15-yards.

AFC Croydon Athletic’s second goal was a carbon copy of their opener, when it arrived in the 23rd minute.

Fray fed Mfula down the left-channel, who was left in acres of space by Brockman, the striker whipped in an excellent cross, low and hard, towards the far post for Wilson to stroke his first time drive across the keeper and nestling into the bottom far corner of the net from eight-yards.

Gill’s response was to substitute his left-back Wesley Bartlett, who was at fault for both of the home side’s goals, by letting the goalscorers comfortably cut across him in the build-up before scoring.

Rayner said: “It’s a good goal again. The aim of the evening was to get it wide and get it forward nice and quick. The pitch isn’t the best at the moment but we started well, did what we wanted to do, got ourselves back in front.”

“He’s an ex-Croydon player as well and it sort of hurts when they’re old players come and score but that’s football,” Gill said of Wilson.

“He got through. I still think Francis could’ve done better, which he didn’t. He had a bit of a rollicking at half-time, so as you saw the difference in his game as well.”

The home side whipped in another cross from the left, this time it came from left-back Luke Turner, but this time Wilson smacked his volley high and wide after he was given space by Croydon substitute left-back Jason Wyatt.

Another mistake from an AFC Croydon Athletic player gifted Croydon an equaliser in the 27th minute.

Cultured player Allen intercepted a pass and played a sublime diagonal to put Franklin in behind but he was fouled by Tom Penson and referee Scott Rudd pointed to the spot.

Duah-Kessie ran up to place his right-footed penalty underneath the diving keeper to maintain his impressive form from the spot.

Gill said: “Jeff’s scored two penalties, he’s very consistent with his penalties. I think he’s scored something like five goals now from penalties, or six, so he’s quite strong, he’s a good lad, he does well for us.”

Rayner added: “Again, it’s a bad decision to me! It wasn’t in the box but there you go.  The ref was quick enough to give it.

“But disapointed when it’s 2-2 and Warren goes clean through. He done Cedric, the guy’s pulling him back, cleans him out, didn’t get a thing! So that’s what happens. I can’t understand it but there you go. We’re not getting the rub of the green at the moment.”

Croydon goalkeeper Francis Ameyaw made a low save as Jenden stroked a right-footed drive towards goal from 30-yards.

Gill revealed he had words with his defenders during the half-time interval.

“If we sort our defence out, we’ll have half a chance,” he said.

“But I couldn’t wait for half-time to come so I could sort it out and we sorted it out at half-time and we were ok.

“I just tried to sort out the midfield and the defence really because I think we  were alright going forward. I just had to balance the team off because we wasn’t quite balanced.  Three of my midfield players who normally play weren’t there today so they’re going to make mistakes, it’s natural you know.  Once we guided them, it’s not a matter of my magic or their magic, it’s not, it’s just guiding people the right way.”

Meanwhile, in the home dressing room, Rayner told his troops. “Well, it’s just a question of getting back and concentrating on getting back in where we were. We gifted them the two goals. They had one other chance with the free-kick. I don’t think they got in the box for the rest of the half. We had certainly had more of the game, more chances, but came in level.”

Clinical Croydon took three minutes and 23 seconds to take the lead for the first time.

Cedric Abraham’s free-kick from inside his own half was flicked on by Duah-Kessie down the right and this put Chin through on goal. The talented winger cut inside and drilled his right-footed shot into the bottom near corner from eight-yards.

“Exciting, innit, especially when you think it’s running away from you and then you come along and you score,” said Gill.

“It was a good header as well, a good flick-on and Chinny outpaced their left-back and cut across him and put it near post. I think it was a good finish. I think it would’ve been it the from there but heaven opens up!”

Rayner added: “Again, it’s just the rub of the green.  It got a bit of a deflection and crept in, that’s poor communication. We’re not switched on and we’ve made it hard for ourselves from that moment on, I think we pretty much dominated the game but there you go.”

AFC Croydon Athletic should have equalised shortly afterwards. 

Central midfielder Ben Rayner swung in a corner from the right and central defender Adam Broomhead planted his free-header over the crossbar from eight-yards, holding his head in his hands in despair.

“He should’ve scored, but it wasn’t to be.  I think we had another couple of chances,” added Rayner.

Burnett’s big kick went down the middle of the pitch and the quiet striker Austin Gacheru hooked the ball out to Wilson on the right, but his low looping shot was gathered by Ameyaw.

Franklin’s pass gave Karl Doughlin an opportunity to sprint into the penalty area but Rams’ keeper Burnett smothered the ball at his feet.

AFC Croydon Athletic went route one to equalise with the game’s sixth goal in the 63rd minute.

Broomhead’s big kick sailed over the heads of Brockman and Abrahim and Mfula’s first touch got him in on goal and he calmly slotted in his right-footed shot underneath Ameyaw.

Rayner said: “A bit of a scrappy equaliser. Warren, again, bursting through and he’s flicked it through his legs.  He’s been great at that all year. He was our best player this evening. He worked his absolute socks off and was unlucky not to notch another one or two.  You can’t fault Warren’s work-rate, effort and commitment, it was superb.

“He’s the top scorer in the league isn’t he, so that says enough.  Unfortunately, he needs a bit of better support around him at the moment.”

Gill said: “I did warn the boys, he’s a boy in form and he is going to score goals.  You only have to look at his record and I said you need to be alive in and around the box and you can’t give that boy that sort of time. They didn’t cover each other. Credit to the boy, he’s sharp and he could’ve had a couple more but they didn’t.”

Croydon’s Chin was a threat to the home side and he laid the ball off for Franklin, whose left-footed drive from 16-yards screamed past the near post in the 72nd minute.

But AFC Croydon Athletic should have won the game in the 76th minute.

Mfula played a one-two with substitute Carlton Murray-Price outside the area and Mfula was played in but his right-footed shot was hit straight at Ameyaw, who used his feet to make the block before grabbing hold of the ball.

“He (Ameyaw) couldn’t do that first half, could he?” came Gill’s reply.

“He was away with the fairies. You should’ve heard me in there, I gave him the b******ing of his life and he done really well from it. He came out and responded well. That’s what I want, a response from players.

“I think he was away with the fairies! You can’t come to a game and play every week and think you’re going to be as good as last week. Every game’s different and you’ve got to prepare yourself properly for every game.”

Rayner added: “It was a great little bit of inter-play with Warren and Carlton Murray-Price, a little one-two in the box. Warren hit it straight at Francis in the Croydon goal. We were certainly on top and it looked like it was coming.

“They worked it really well, a nice bit of football. He could’ve slotted it anywhere really, but it’s unfortunate, Francis has made a save. It’s been hit straight at him!”

Mfula cut into the Croydon penalty area from the left, reached the by-line and the ball bounced around the penalty area before dropping to Emanual Oloyede, the substitute lashing his left-footed shot over the crossbar from six-yards.

Rayner said: “It’s just one of those, he’s had a lash at it and it’s gone over the bar. A little bit of composure, we might’ve been in front!”

AFC Croydon Athletic created their last chance in the 86th minute – with the score tied at three-all.

Oloyede’s diagonal cross hit several bobbles as the ball bounced up and was controlled by Fray, who cut inside and his low drive was saved comfortably by Ameyaw.

Rayner said: “We’re still trying to win the game but at the same token we’ve got to concentrate at the end of the day. A point is better than nothing! I couldn’t see what’s happened at the end but we just got caught.”

But there was to be a cruel twist of fate at the end of this game as Croydon grabbed three goals during stoppage time.

Doughlin pinged a sublime diagonal pass to release Duah-Kessie, who was tripped just inside the corner of the penalty area by Broomhead.

The Croydon striker was feeling the effects of hurting his toe earlier on in the game and bravely got up without the need of treatment, which would have prevented him from taking the spot-kick had he received treatment.

With a lot of pressure on him, Duah-Kessie maintained his composure and drilled his right-footed penalty nestling into the bottom left-hand corner.

“I don’t think it was that bad of a foul,” admitted Gill.

“Jeff’s a big, old boy so when he hits the ground it hurts him, I bet. I don’t think the tackle was that bad.  Broomhead’s not like that, he’s a nice lad normally.

“But he caught his foot and then dragged it.  You’ve seen that many a time in the Premier League when they drag their leg and (the referee) gives a penalty and that’s all it is.

“Jeff’s got up, as you could see, there was nothing wrong with him because he put it away well.”

Rayner added: “Adam was a bit unlucky, he’s made a good tackle on their nine (Duah-Kessie) and the ball’s spun out right in front of him and he’s dangled his leg and that’s it – it’s a pen and that’s it!

“You could see the next two coming, you’ve still got four or five minutes to get an equaliser but I think the shock of it all has meant that we’ve conceded and we’ve lost a bit of shape and organisation and conceded the next two.”

Tacon, who came on for Franklin with 11 minutes of normal time remaining, appeared to have taken the ball towards the corner flag in a bid to kill time.
However, he cut the ball inside to Allen, who cut inside and bent his right-footed shot into the bottom left-hand corner from 25-yards as Croydon scored their fifth goal with two minutes and four seconds of injury time played.

“That’s Ben’s first game and for him to come on in a game where goals are going in left, right and centre to set up a midfield player coming on. He took that goal and I think there’s good understanding from two senior players.”

The last two breakaway goals were down the side of makeshift right-back, half-time substitute Junior Kaffo, who was deployed as a central midfielder at Ryman League Division One South strugglers Chatham Town.

“Adam’s cut in and hit it well enough. I think Dan could’ve done a little bit better but there you go, that’s killed the game totally,” added Rayner.

Croydon’s sixth goal arrived with four minutes and four seconds on the clock courtesy of a slice of luck.

Croydon had plenty of men back and Abraham scuffed his clearance away from the edge of his box which luckily fell at Tacon’s feet just over the halfway line.  The winger burst forward and cut inside and stroked his right-footed angled drive, which flashed across the diving keeper to nestle inside the bottom far corner of the net.

“He scored a good goal scored a very good goal.  He should’ve played on Saturday (in our 3-2 home win over Glebe in The Buildbase FA Vase) but his daughter was taken ill and he couldn’t play so she was in hospital so today it was his debut rather than Saturday.  It would’ve been nice for him to have been his debut in The Vase but family comes first and he’s done well for us when he came on today.

“Ben stopped playing, he just plays for our Sunday team and he runs our kids’ teams.”

Rayner added: “Similar to the fifth really. He’s just tapped it in. There sort of defending deep and they’ve cleared it and the guy’s picked it up going to the corner and then cut it and drilled it bottom corner. Fair play to them. They’ve worked hard and the way we’ve played we didn’t deserve anything from the game!”

Tenth-placed Croydon (17 points from 14 games) face another local derby on Saturday when they travel to second-from-bottom side Beckenham Town.

“They’ll probably beat us! I don’t want to lose any games because I want to climb the table to close up the gap so we can trim our squad a little bit,” said Gill, who is sweating on Abraham’s fitness.

“Providing on our players, if they feel fit, I’ll put my strongest side out. That was the strongest we could put out today. There were four kids in their but that’s football, you get to play with what you’ve got.”

AFC Croydon Athletic, meanwhile, host third-from-bottom side Erith Town at the weekend, a side that were thrashed 7-0 by Cray Valley tonight.

Rayner admitted: “We’ve slipped up recently, quite a lot. We’re not going through a good period at the moment so we’ve got to get back on it. We need to win the next three or four games without any slip ups and see where we are.

“We’ve certainly got to improve. We’re not anywhere near where we were. We’re making too many errors at the moment at the back so we’ve got to improve on that.

“We just need to get back at it. We want to get back up there, that’s what we came here for.  I can’t see no reason why we can’t but we certainly have to improve what we’ve done tonight.

“We had a little blip. We’re certainly good enough to be up there.  We certainly need to get back to where we were.”

AFC Croydon Athletic: Dan Burnett, Jenichell Santos (Junior Kaffo 46), Luke Turner, Ben Rayner, Adam Broomhead, Tom Penson, Bradley Wilson (Carlton Murray-Price 64), Morgan Jenden, Warren Mfula, Austin Gacheru (Emanual Oloyede 72), James Fray.
Subs: Nuham Green, Kristian Mole

Goals: Warren Mfula 5, 63, Bradley Wilson 23

Booked: Tom Penson 26, Adam Broomhead 45, Luke Turner 48, Ben Rayner 84

Croydon: Francis Ameyaw, Harry Brockman, Wesley Bartlett (Jason Wyatt 24), Adam Allen, Jamie McGeoghegan, Cedric Abraham, Reiss Franklin (Ben Tacon 79), Rohann Howell, Jeff Duah-Kessie, Karl Doughlin, Lauris Chin.
Subs: Heru Jess-King, Sam Nicholas-Scott, Danny Carpanini

Goals: Reiss Franklin 14, Jeff Duah-Kessie 27 (penalty), 90 (penalty), Lauris Chin 49, Adam Allen 90, Ben Tacon 90

Booked: Adam Allen 58, Karl Doughlin 68

Attendance: 72
Referee: Mr Scott Rudd (Dartford)
Assistants: Mr Nick Fruin (Beckenham) & Mr Christopher Price (Bromley)

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