Dominant City Put Five Past AFC Croydon
Rampant City send AFC Croydon packing with a five goal mauling
Canterbury City 5 AFC Croydon 0
A timely victory for City as they put AFC Croydon to the sword, with a five goal pounding that could quite easilly have been ten and wouldn't have flattered City if it had been. Two goals in little over a minute saw them take a first-half lead and after wave after wave of attacking football, City scored three more late on to seal a comprehensive and very deserved victory.
The visitors started on the front foot, but once City had weathered an early rush, that was about as good as it got for Croydon. A low shot from Emanuel Oloyede brought a smart save from returning City keeper Daren Hawkes, but he still needed the assistance of a covering defender to quickly hack the loose ball clear. City were then rather fortunate to survive a free-kick into their area from which an opportunity to poke the ball home was missed before another hurried City clearance.
For City, a Dave Pilcher free-kick was sent in and Laurence Harvey's late run around the back was totally missed by the defence and his fine looping header sailed over the keeper but struck the angle of post and bar. Croydon broke quickly from the next ball, but that move ended with Ryan Fowler striking the ball well over the City bar. Chances were then exchanged as debutant Callum Philllip got himself into a great position but was denied by a decent spreading save from visiting keeper Francis Ameyan while Lewis Medina planted a firm header a couple of yards wide of the City goal.
Attacking play seemed to be the order of the day and a twenty-five yarder was tipped over his own bar by a back-pedalling Hawkes, before at the other end, Ameyan made a point blank stop from a Rob Lawrence effort.
After that it was pretty much City all the way, Croydon huffed and puffed on occasion, but City were soon to dominate and but for some better finishing and a bit more luck in front of goal they could easilly have had their tally somehwere nearer to double figures. They started the ball rolling with the opening goal on twenty-eight minutes when a Pilcher free-kick was curled in and Jamie Maxted ran through unchallenged, beating Ameyan to the ball with time to spare and eased a header past him and home for 1-0.
Barely a minute had passed before it was 2-0. Another free-kick was sent in and after a minor scramble, Harvey, unucky again, turned and struck a shot against the bar - there was no reprieve for the visitors this time though as Lawrence alert and aware as ever was the first to react, sliding the ball home from close range for City's second.
City were now starting to dominate and in the run up to the break, they missed a plethora of chances and opportunities to push the game away from the visitors. A great run from Darren Marsden found Pilcher and his cross, right into the zone just failed to find a City shirt, while Pat Nzuzi then broke into the box, but despite a clever one-two he slipped as he was about to make the vital pass and put a third goal on a plate. The woodwork then saved the visitors for the third time as Philip hit the post when through with just the keeper to beat, while the same player then headed straight at Ameyan from a Pilcher cross.
City were playing really well and once again Marsden was running the show from midfield and they ended the half going close again as a precise and flowing move ended with a chipped cross to the far post headed narrowly wide by the lively Sam Lawford. It was all City at the break, although Fowler did see a shot blocked a long way out by Josh McCallum just before the interval, but the half-time whistle arrived with City two up, but hoping not to rue the fact it could and probably should have been two or three more.
The second half started with two very curious decisions by the referee that could have been turning points. Firstly a Croydon corner, awarded when the attacker clearly seemed to kick the ball well wide but straight out, came to nothing as Joey-Tom Nyama hoofed the ball that came back out well over the City bar and down the approach road towards Sandwich and then McCallum was inexplicably booked when he was adjudged to have fouled an opponent when the two of them - both running in different directions and not even looking at each other collided - from what I saw the only thing he was 'guilty of' was staying on his feet, while his opponent went sprawling to the ground!
However, City were soon back in the groove and Phillip, who will have left this game wondering how he didn't score ran onto a though ball and drew the keeper well out of his goal before beating him to the ball and thumping a long shot against the post only to see Pilcher turn the ball home from an offside position and see the strike correctly chalked off.
City continued to dominate and were in fact looking rampant at times, as a lightening break from Lawrence ended when he was dispossessed in front of goal as he was about to pull the trigger, an Nzuzi cross was an inch too far in front of Phillip preventing him from stabbing the ball home and then a Lawford break ended when he was denied by a great spreading save from Ameyan.
City were all over their opponents, streaming forward in numbers and at every opportunity, but still they couldn't increase their lead and make the game safe. A Harvey header brought out a smart stop from Ameyan at the foot of his post, while the desperately unlucky Phillip was almost clean through again before being brought down six inches outside the box, leaving the referee with no alternative but to red card Croydon's Ibrahim Kallon and reduce his side to ten men. City couldn't prosper from the free-kick though as Pilcher saw his effort firstly deflect off the wall and then be smartly tipped over his own bar by Ameyan.
City were pressing hard for the killer third and brought on Matt Martin for Phillip and he was soon in the action when his ball in was hoofed away off Lawrence's toes with the goal gaping. For all City's absolute domination going forward, it had also been a stout defensive performance as well, with every player playing their part, but on seventy-two minutes City were indebted to keeper Hawkes when he made a candidate for save of the season with a one handed, flying single fisted save to deny Fowler from twelve yards as the attacker rammed in a fierce and but for Hawkes, goal bound howitzer of a shot.
That save just highlighted City's need to put the game to bed and it also gave the visitors some confidence that they could possibly prosper from City's failure to do so and the next two opportunities both fell to Croydon as Oloyede shot wide and Chevan Xavier fired over the bar.
On seventy-nine minutes, Croydon really should have been reduced to nine men when Lawford burst through and without a covering defender in sight he was brought down by Ameyan some forty yards away from goal having just knocked the ball well past the onrushing keeper. It looked a fairly open and shut case, but the guilty smirk on the keeper's face as he saw yellow and not red was an absoloute giveaway that he himself thought he should have been making for the changing room and not his way back into goal, it was indeed the lucky face of a man who had lost a 50p coin but had found a ten pound note!
On eighty-five minutes, finally City began to convert dominance into goals. A superb leap followed by a deft second touch from Lawford lifted the ball over the defence for Martin and as Croydon played statues, the substitute had ages to pick his spot and slot the ball past Ameyan for 3-0. Just a minute or so later, a beauty of a ball forward from Dan Keyte split the defence wide open and Martin galloped though and hit the sweetest dipping volley into the top corner for 4-0 and giving Ameyan no chance.
City's spirit and determination today was epitimised deep into stoppage time when McCallum raced and chased back well into his own box to make a brilliant, last ditch, goal blocking tackle. That wasn't the end of the action though as the almost final kick of the game saw City hit their fifth when a lovely diagonal ball from Wayne Wilson, once again carved Croydon apart and fellow substitute Tom Barton ran through and rounded off the proceedings by thumping the ball past Ameyan for 5-0.
A brilliant all round team effort from City and just what was needed given today's opposition and last week's dissapointment, but if I was being ultra picky, it came a week too late...
Final score; Canterbury City 5 AFC Croydon 0
City; Daren Hawkes, Pat Nzuzi, Jamie Maxted, Dan Keyte (Tom Barton), Laurence Harvey, Josh McCallum, Callum Phillip (Matt Martin), Darren Marsden, Rob Lawrence (Wayne Wilson), Dave Pilcher, Sam Lawford.
Unused Subs; Gary Sayer, Cory Walters-Wright