Sheppey United -v- AFC Croydon Athletic (FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round)
So the eagerly awaited start to the season sees us pitted against Croydon in the oldest cup competition at the newly named Havill embalming stadium and what a game it was, played in near monsoon/heatwave conditions only ever seen on Nuclear Island.
The game started with both teams going at it like newlyweds, Croydon creating early chances and showing superior physicality in the midfield, then as the weather changed for the better so did Ites play, the midfield starting to win tackles and Luke Girt starting to show why he’s our most expensive acquisition by looking good, not just on the dance floor but making more passes than Harry Kane on mastermind, one such pass led to the goal of the game, out wide to Timmy, Timmy cuts in and curls it top corner from just outside Queenboro station 1-0, cue Timmys usual goal celebratory somersaults although I must confess this is the first time I’ve seen it having only watched just over a hundred games.
The game then became end to end exciting stuff, Ites keeper, who has the same initials as Jesus Christ ( coincidentally a phrase uttered by many every time Jordan leaves his line) came under pressure from more crosses than when the Pope visited Celtic attempting to punch anything/anyone who got within ten foot of his goal.
Then just as it seemed Croydon would get a foothold came the move of the match, Timmy superbly found their left back on the edge of the area who looked up then calmly rolled our Northern whippet Bradshaw in for a simple tap in 2-0.
Our great football and new found cutting edge seemed to be a bit contagious, pushing too far up leaving a one on one which they exploited
The half time break came just at the right time, the lads had their halftime fag and came out all guns blazing, the excellent Remell finding t’whippet on the right who cut in and laid it on a Trey for Williams, 3-1. The paddock dared to sing Trey sera sera, with people carefully checking their diaries with only 12 games until Wembley, looking a nailed on cert for the final. Unfortunately Ites didn’t fancy giving us an easy afternoon as again the heavens opened leaving me wetter than a Haddocks bathing costume and again pushed up too far allowing their centre forward time and room to finish past Scary 3-2.
Ernie, who was later to describe the game as “squash buckling” then changed to a 4-4-2 bringing on my player of the year 2017/18 James Huggins who wasted no time in dispossessing their dangerous striker in another one on one with all the confidence of a schoolteacher on half term and generally shored things up in the absence of the colonel who had been cruelly struck down with a heady mix of sunburn and ligament damage.
Still Croydon huffed and puffed, possibly smelling blood which may have been the product of another wayward Jordan punch, and as the clock ticked into injury time, the forward wriggled free, his shot beat Jordan, heading for the net when the collective beer, fags and burger breath of the Botany road end blew the ball onto the post and away past the geezer expecting the tap in and away from danger.
All that remained was the helper from Bad Santa to blow the final whistle, and that was the last R….Ites for Croydon who were put to rest in Havill style.
Overall a great team performance against a strong physical team who will be thereabouts this season, some of the movement and passing the like I’d never seen before (I’m a season ticket holder at West Ham if that explains it) some much needed steel in the middle, a slimline Ralphy, who looks like he’s lost a few grams and a strong bench point to a great season ahead.
Can’t pick a man of the match (other than Huggins) but the management team deserve a special mention for getting the balance of the team right especially considering so many new boys who seemed to gel straight off. Bring on the battle of Hastings.
Disclaimer – This is entirely made up of my opinions and may not even bear much relation to what actually happened. No animals were hurt in the making of this report.