Croydon 4-1 Epsom & Ewell - Maybe I can afford to go and buy tracksuits for my players, says Gill

Wednesday 03rd September 2014

The FA Cup Preliminary Round Replay
Wednesday 3rd September 2014
Stephen McCartney reports from Croydon Sports Arena

CROYDON manager/chairman Dickson Gill says staying in The FA Cup for as long as possible will help pay the rent to Croydon Council to play first team games at their ground.

The Trams booked a home tie against current Ryman League Division One South leaders Burgess Hill Town in the First Qualifying Round on 13 September after coming from behind to beat Epsom & Ewell 4-1.

All five goals came in an explosive 23 minute spell during the second half in front of Croydon’s largest crowd of the season.

Croydon were thankful to defender Dave Waters scoring three minutes from time in Saturday’s encounter at Chipstead to earn a second bite of the cherry.

Combined Counties League side Epsom & Ewell took the lead again tonight, courtesy of Ali Dewar’s quality strike.

But Croydon – in seventh-place in the Southern Counties East Football League -  didn’t dwell on their disappointment as they equalised just 49 seconds later through Lauris Chin’s close-range tap-in in the 54th minute.

Tristan Toney stroked home the second within three minutes, before Steven Cox powered home his header to turn the game around, before man-of-the-match Ben Mankelow capped off a fine display with the fourth.

After beating Arundel 1-0 in the Extra Preliminary Round, Croydon have now scooped £3,425 in prize money from The Football Association.

Gill said: “Delighted. We played well. We went behind and the boys showed good character to come back to win 4-1.

Reflecting on the first half, Gill said: “I thought it was even. There wasn’t that many goalscoring chances but we battled away.  I thought we defended quite well first half but (against) the run of play (in the second half), I thought we conceded a goal, which was a good goal.” 

Croydon, who went into the game on a run of four games without a win, made three changes to the side that drew on Saturday.

They were also without three-goal striker Dan Jupe who was nursing a foot injury, sustained by having a piano dropped on his foot while helping a friend move house last week.

Epsom & Ewell, who arrived at Croydon Sports Arena in fifteenth-place in their division, created the first chance of the game after only 123 seconds when midfielder Harry Hoadley picked the ball up and ran forward before hitting a right-footed drive from 30-yards, which was picked up by an untroubled Francis Ameyaw in the Croydon goal.

But Epsom & Ewell should have taken a ninth minute lead.

Former Whyteleafe striker Taylor Smith – who was kept quiet during the second half – swept the ball out wide to Dewar who cut the ball back to Ben Hayward, who made a run towards the edge of the area and scuffed his right-footed drive into the ground from 20-yards, allowing the Croydon keeper to make a comfortable save to his right.

Gill said: “Well, it’s just a mistake from one of our defenders. It happens to the best players in the world, so we’re no different.  Somewhere down the line, you make one mistake in 90 minutes, you’ve done well.”

Croydon’s left-back Zachary Powell made a burst forward before cracking a right-footed drive sailing harmlessly over the crossbar from 30-yards soon after.

Croydon’s first clear cut chance, however, arrived half-way through the first half when Mankelow cut inside and drilled a right-footed shot on the angle from 18-yards, which was spilt by visiting keeper Oshane Brown, who gathered the ball at the second attempt.

Brown ensured he got his body behind Danny Akers’ fiercely struck right-footed free-kick from 22-yards, the ball bouncing behind for a Croydon corner.

“That was a very good shot from long distance,” said Gill.

“I think if we followed it up we might have got something out of it but he done a good save and we got a corner.”

Gill was pleased with the performance from his right-back.

“I’ve been working on him and today he was better,” said Gill.

“The last two games last week the goal went in because he was too anxious to get forward and they got behind him. Cray Valley, he did similar and today to see him have a good game is very pleasing for him.

“The time he gets to his dad (Lee) he’ll be a very good player. He’s very similar to his dad.”

Epsom & Ewell were lively down the left with Smith keen to impress against a former club and he cut the ball back towards the edge of the penalty area where Hayward poked his volley over the bar.

Epsom & Ewell wasted another chance when George Murphy clipped the ball out of defence and skipper Hayward ghosted into the penalty area and sent his first time chip sailing wide of the far post as Ameyaw advanced off his line.

“Again, it wasn’t Francis. The defender (Adam Allen) was a little bit deep and it went over his head. He didn’t time it right and the forward got on the end of it, which was a good run from the forward. He should have buried it.”

But Croydon came out of their shell as the game edged towards the half-time interval.

Powell cracked a speculative right-footed volley from 40-yards, which dipped and missed the left-hand post.

James Fray then produced a mazy-run towards the edge of the penalty area but his poor shot rolled into Brown’s hands for a comfortable save.

Karl Douglin – who scooped Epsom & Ewell’s player-of-the-year award last season and picked up his trophy before the first game between the two sides – played a sublime defensive splitting pass to release Mankelow down the right and his right-footed angled drive was tipped into the side netting by Brown at his near post.

Powell pumped a long ball forward which was latched onto by Mankelow, who sent his left-footed drive sailing wide from 20-yards.

Croydon finished the first half on top and Akers drilled a shot straight at Brown, who made a low save at his near post after his initial corner was cleared straight back to him.

Gill admitted he was pleased with his side’s first half performance.

“I just said to them they’re playing quite well. I just felt we needed to up it a little bit more.  They needed to get the ball in wide positions and get back around the back of them, which we done. We showed dividends in the end.”

Croydon continued their dominance and went close to breaking the deadlock inside the opening three minutes of the second half.

Powell threw the ball in from the left and the ball was headed away only as far as Mankelow who hooked his right-footed volley on the turn over the bar from ten-yards.

Dewar issued Croydon a warning when he stroked his right-footed shot towards goal from 12-yards, which forced Ameyaw to dive to his left to push away, after Smith delivered the ball in from the right.

But Epsom & Ewell opened the scoring in the 53 minute.

Right-back James Taylor was up in an advanced position to take a throw-in, but the ball came back to him and he whipped in a cross into the middle where Dewar cracked a right-footed shot on the turn straight into the top right-hand corner.

Gill said: “Wonderful goal! Very good goal.   You can’t complain. These things happen in football. You have to bounce back.

“I thought they played a lot of good football without having a shot and that was probably the only decent shot they had, proper shot from distance and it went in!

“It was untouchable! Francis couldn’t get to it - he’s a good lad – and he couldn’t even get there. It was a good finish.

“When a goal goes against you in The FA Cup you think ‘oh God it’s going to be one of those days’, but we reacted quickly and got back into it quickly before it ran away from you.”

Gill was full of praise for the character shown by his team as they swiftly levelled during a vulnerable period for the team that had just scored.

Fray whipped in a low cross from the right into the corridor of uncertainty and Chin nipped in at the near post to stab the ball over the line from two-yards out to score his first goal of the season.

“We got straight up and got another one,” added Gill.

“It was an easy tap-in. He timed his running right and got across. A bit like Alfie May when he scored for Erith & Belvedere the other day (in their 2-2 home draw against Folkestone Invicta in The FA Cup).”

Gill was delighted with the reaction from his side, saying, “They’re nice lads that I’ve got here, but a lot of them are young, not played at this level or always been sub and things so it’s very hard to keep them going. They’ve got to learn to do things properly.”

The clock was showing 11:32 when clinical Croydon took the lead for the first time in the tie, courtesy of Toney’s second goal of the campaign.

Adam Allen – who marshalled the defence well alongside Dave Waters – found himself down the left channel and he played the ball inside to Fray, who played the ball back to Allen.

Allen cut the ball back towards the unmarked Toney, who swept his shot past the keeper from eight-yards.

Gill said he wants more from the former Lewisham Borough and Hastings United striker.

“He works very hard but he gets very little out of him regarding scoring,” admitted Gill.

“I think he’s scored only two goals so far. He gets very little out of what he does. I think what he has to do is get his shooting boots on a bit more!”

Croydon notched their third goal just 241 seconds later to kill the game off.

Fray swung in a corner from the right towards the edge of the six-yard box where Cox powered his diving header into the roof of the net.

Gill hailed the goal as the best goal of the match.

He said: “Well, you play football and you have a tackle you feel great, but when you see a header like that, it makes you feel on top of the world!

“That was excellent, that was, probably one of the better goals I’ve seen today.”

When asked whether he’s been working on corners during training, the Croydon chief replied: “We do corners and there were games we never really got many goals. We got one similar last week. It wasn’t a corner but it was a similar.  The ball was driven in from wide by Ben Mankelow and it was a bullet header like that from Dave Waters so we’ve done it again today, so it was good, very pleasing.”

A diagonal run from Fray, which included several step-overs, resulting in Brown plucking the ball out of the air as the winger attempted to curl his right-footed shot into the roof of the net from 20-yards.

But Mankelow capped off a fine performance by scoring Croydon’s fourth goal with fourteen minutes left.

Epsom & Ewell failed to deal with Allen’s long ball over the top of their defence which Mankelow controlled before cutting the ball back onto his right-foot and chipping the ball through the advancing keeper’s fingers from 20-yards and watching the ball roll into the back of the net.

Gill said: “He chipped him but it was a very hard chip with the goalkeeper that close so I don’t know how he managed to get it over him. It hit his hand and it went in.”

The Trams created one more chance following Akers’ corner from the left, which was cleared out to Fray, who flashed his right-footed shot past the left-hand post.

Only two Southern Counties East Football League clubs are left in The FA Cup, the other one being Greenwich Borough.

“It’s still good. At least we’re flying the flag.  I hope we can go another couple of more rounds before they put us out of touch,” said Gill.

Gill wants to pull off a FA Cup shock in the next round against a Burgess Hill Town side that are unbeaten in seven league games and sit proudly at the summit.

“It don’t make no difference.  I’m not getting carried away. It’s eleven-versus-eleven on the day. It’s how we adjust, how we adapt, how we get tactically aware, how we defend against them. It will be another game. I’m not frightened.

“We’re going to hopefully give them the shock. We’ll never lay down and die. You know me, I’ll never lay down and die.”

Gill wants to see the Croydon public turn out in force in the next round.

“A game like this today, 140-150 would be nice. I’m grateful for that crowd but it would be nice to get more.”

Gill then put on his chairman’s hat and revealed what winning £3,425 in prize money means to the club.

“It covers our pitches, five grand a year, so if we can win on Saturday, it covers our pitches for the year.

“We’ve got to play Phoenix in The FA Vase so if we can win that (£600 prize money) that will be really good for ourselves and we can use the money in other areas.

“As you noticed we haven’t got tracksuits for the boys. They’ve just got t-shirts so maybe I can go out and buy tracksuits for them.

“We’ve got reserves and youth teams now as well but each team works out at about £5,000 (to hire Croydon Sports Arena).”

It’s a sad state of affairs for non-league football clubs that are desperate to scoop prize money in FA competitions where Premier League clubs have spent over £800m in transfer fees this summer.

“You’ve got to keep your season alive because that keeps the interest going because they get very easily distracted,” said Gill, who may lose players to other clubs that can offer them more money.

“We haven’t got big sponsors. We’ve got a sponsor come in, one of my friends I have got a bit of money off him so that helps. I’ve got another one coming in so things are still going to happen but we’re never going to be a Ryman Premier Division club.

“I’ve invested quite a bit of money this year again to keep the budget with the boys I’ve got. It’s one of those things in life.”
Croydon: Francis Ameyaw, Danny Akers, Zachary Powell (Michael Craveiro 82), Adam Allen, Dave Waters, Lauris Chin, Ben Mankelow, Steven Cox, Tristan Toney (Badar Mohammed 71), Karl Douglin, James Fray.
Subs: Justin Hemmings, James Jordan, Rhys Martin, Jamie Atkins, Byron Levin

Goals: Lauris Chin 54, Tristan Toney 57, Steven Cox 61, Ben Mankelow 76

Booked: Ben Mankelow 35

Epsom & Ewell: Oshane Brown, James Taylor, Matt Tanton (Sean White 85), George Murphy, Dan Dean, Ben Hayward (Sam Robinson 62), Ali Dewar (Matt Farrell 79), Harry Hoadley, Taylor Smith, Kyle Hough, Carl Downs.
Subs: Luke Gaffney, Michael Eacott, Anthony Panayi

Goal: Ali Dewar 53

Attendance: 101
Referee: Mr Peter Meek (Frimley, Surrey)
Assistants: Mr Lewis Gordon (Wallington, Surrey) & Mr Ryan O’Sullivan (New Addington, Surrey)