It was another crucial match day at Polonia Reserve on Saturday when Croydon welcomed the visit of the high flying Adelaide Blue Eagles who sat in second position prior to kick-off.
The Kings knew a victory however would see them leap-frog Blue Eagles (at least) and possibly more, depending on other results.
The match started off with Blue Eagles looking sharper and a series of corners and attacking half free kicks saw them test Croydon early.
It took a finger-tip save from John Hall which clipped the crossbar as well to keep Blue Eagles at bay in the early exchanges.
Having weathered the storm, Croydon started to slowly get into the groove and began to assert themselves on the game and several corners and good chances were created at the other end, the closest being a close range clip from Munro, which somehow managed to go over the bar whilst everyone held their breath.
In a great end-to-end spectacle, you could see it would be a tight affair and that one goal could well seal a big advantage.
On 25 minutes, the game was opened up even more, when a great cross found the head of Haruoka who’s perfect timed run ensured the ball found the net with Blue Eagles defence wondering what just happened and the keeper out of position looking stunned. 1-0 up!
The end-to-end football continued until the half time whistle and you could sense Croydon were ready to step up a gear in the second half.
Caraccia, Heinike and Martinello were kept busy in the midfield and Trimboli, Munro and Hauoka ensured the Blue Eagles defence had to work just as hard with their constant attacking threats. Mid way through the second half came a turning point when a scuffle following a Sunasky tackle on Evan Kounavelis saw the Blue Eagles attacker retaliate with a head-butt and whilst Sunasky got a yellow for the tackle, the referee, after consulting with her assistant had no option other to give Evan a straight red and the Blue Eagles quest for an equaliser just got tougher.
Coach Ange Costanzo again used his bench to effect and Panagaris came on for Sunasky, Skeffington on for the hard running Trimboli and Mercurio on for young Heinike and the fresh legs ensured Croydon would not let go and further chances were created, but again near –misses were the order of the day.
Despite being down to ten men, Blue Eagles still huffed and puffed and almost broke through but again it was John Hall who’s outstretched arm parried what looked a certain goal around for a corner which the Kings defence ultimately withstood. The final whistle came, and it emerged that Croydon would jump into fifth spot and a finals position almost secure and one that can be secured should they get maximum points next week.
Again it was pleasing to see every Croydon contributor play well, with captain Luke Klimek showing the way as we eye a best possible ladder finish with only 3 rounds to go.
Earlier in the day, the Under 18’s smacked Blue Eagles 5-1 to boost their finals chances, whilst the Reserves had a much tougher day in the top versus bottom clash, but still showed enough class to run out 2-0 victors to maintain top spot and make it another clean sweep for Croydon.
Attention this week turns to our next opponent, another strong finals candidate in Adelaide Comets and they will be keen to avenge their last defeat to Croydon, whilst we look to march forward in what could well be our second last ever game at Polonia Reserve. Even Comets reserves will remember their heart-breaking cup final defeat, so this is one fixture you’d do well to come early and watch all 3 games as each has it’s great importance as the minor round draws to a close.
So let’s see those red and white scarves and the boisterous support continue because these are our Croydon Kings, your Croydon Kings and more silverware is there for the taking but we all need to band together to make this happen. Every one percent counts!