Heavy opening pre-season friendly defeat for U21s
Things can only get better
Report by Wink Tomkinson
Chris Wye’s newly-formed Under-21 side endured a baptism of fire at Croydon’s Archbishop Lanfranc Academy on Saturday. In sweltering heat that left almost every one of the Angels’ lads with blistered feet, they spent a torrid 90 minutes chasing the shadows of a mature, more street-wise Southern Counties East team that boasted a striker in Jeff Duah-Kessie, who scored 40-plus goals last season for The Trams and found the net five times in this game.
The Angels manager was left without a recognised central defender, having to use two midfielders in that area and a 16-year-old full back. Chris said after the game that training would focus on the back four and he was looking for another centre back to come in.
Possession is [they say] nine-tenths of the law, in football it is the whole thing. If you haven’t the ball you cannot hurt the opposition but if you continually give it up, then you will get hurt and when the manager gets his beleaguered troops back on the training field no doubt this will feature high on his list of priorities as well.
Croydon went in front after four minutes when the Angels’ goalkeeper, Charlie McTigue committed to a ball he was not going to get allowing Croydon’s winger to score.
McTigue made a good save and Duah-Kessie struck the bar before the Croydon striker found the bottom corner after 22 minutes.
Solomon Falloju was robbed of the ball as Duah-Kessie made it three after 27 minutes and when the Croydon left winger slotted in from the edge of the six-yard box the writing was very much on the wall.
Duah-Kessie wrapped up his first half hat-trick with a goal seven minutes before the break.
A second half comeback was not on the cards but salvaging some pride from the game was also dispelled within four minutes of the restart when McTigue’s fine save as not enough to deny Duah-Kessie tucking in the rebound and in the 49th minute the centre forward increased the score to 7-0.
Strangely, Tonbridge a brief 10 minutes when they strung together a few passes and scored through Jed Brown who touched it past the goalkeeper after being sent clear. They might have eased themselves further into the game after 58 minutes when they were awarded a penalty but Sam Caldicott’s effort was saved low to his left by the keeper.
What little confidence that had been gained by that spell drained away when Croydon were awarded a penalty which was scored despite a retake being needed.
Further goals in the 70th, 75th, 76th and Duah-Kessie’s fifth in the 78th minute put the Angels to the sword as Croydon got their own season off to a flying start.
In Chris Wye’s honest assessment of the match he said: “The group is not strong enough and I need to bring in replacements. The basic things that they are asked to do should already be in them at this stage. I’ve seen what I’ve been given through the trial process I’ve carried out and it is not good enough.”
Next Saturday the under-21s visit Broadbridge Heath hoping to put this chastening start behind them.