Wednesday 10 December 2008

Croydon 10 – Avondale 9 (Surrey League Final, 8th December 2008)

These two teams were tied at the top of the Surrey 1st division. There was nothing between them in the league and nothing between them tonight in a game that could have finished with either team winning a very even contest.

Croydon have a young side, given structure and a scoring edge through a couple of old campaigners and Avondale were their usual consistent mix, albeit without four of their stronger players, through a combination of childbirth, flue and the need to move body parts only during the hours of darkness. The combative Avondale captain (incidentally the most successful captain of the modern Avondale era) took no physical part of course. However, complete with ankle cast, his presence on the poolside, his cries of encouragement and useful advice for the referees, all played a part in the team performance.

The big pool favoured the youthful energy of Croydon, but in the early quarters they took the lead, due more to their pit play than speed; helped by a somewhat less than sparkling display from the aged Avondale keeper. At the Croydon end several well worked goals and impressive finishing from Eakins and the pink arm of Parkin, rising Excalibur like from the maelstrom of the pit, kept Avondale close on the heels of the home team. The Sniper sniped continuously. The game’s opening goal was a trademark effort from wide and about 10m out, it grazed the underside of the bar in the top corner to beat the excellent Croydon goal minder. In the Avondale defence a quizzical expression and raised eyebrows from Jotic at his exclusion defending the pit earned him an early shower. The referee, in order to ‘stamp his authority’ on proceedings, decided that wildly exuberant dissention of this kind could not go unpunished and ‘wrapped him up’.

The final quarter was worth the price of admission. The teams were level at 9-9 and both sides had excellent scoring opportunities. The wall was finally erected in the Avondale goal and the old boy stopped three practically certain goals from short range. Despite clearly being very tired, the visitors earned an extra man and a penalty in the list three minutes, but somehow failed to capitalise on either. With the extra man they contrived to hit the post (again!) from 5m and the Croydon keeper guessed right and saved the penalty well to maintain the status quo. In the dying seconds Croydon broke the deadlock with a neat pop from the pit to one of their youngsters who still had the energy to get in front of his defender. A great game of polo and a fitting end to the 2007-2008 Surrey Division 1.

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