Crows 1 Croydon 0

I’ve mentioned a few times before that the journey down to a home game is all part of the fun for me, and normally I’ll try to walk (dodgy knees permitting) but on Saturday the bastard joints were playing up big style and in the end it seemed safer to take the Electric Vehicle for a run down to Alderbrook rather than limp like an arthritic pirate all the way down Queens Road. (That reminds me – I must take that parrot back to the pet shop; I think it’s dead). Anyway, it always feels like cheating to drive down to a home fixture, but I do at least get the chance to play the “Eco Worrier” game, invented by me, and second only to “Beep Rabbit” as a car-based travel game – have I ever explained the rules to “Beep Rabbit”? Another time perhaps. The rules of Eco Worrier are very simple if you own an EV – get as far as you can using as little power as possible. The dashboard has a very helpful percentage indicator which makes the adjudication pretty straight forward luckily, and as the EV had been fully charged overnight, I started the game with the battery showing 100% which makes the target nice and clear. Now I reckon, given that Crowborough sits on top of a hill, I can get down to Alderbrook with the percentage indicator still showing 100% – that’s 1.8 miles without using any power at all – as “witchcraft” charges the battery if I brake or coast down a hill. That’s the challenge, and there aren’t really any other rules to Eco Worrier, so called because you spend most of the time staring at the Indicator, worrying you’re about to use too much power, rather than actually looking at the road, adding an unwitting air of danger and excitement (I don’t get out much). I’ve yet to settle on the perfect eco-driving route to Alderbrook, but I WILL find it, and I decided on the way home that Montargis Way and Luxford Road could be the key. The trick basically is to avoid going uphill, or at the very least building up enough speed to be able to coast up any slight inclines and today I tried Green Lane into Tollwood Road but was defeated by random traffic lights on Walshes Road meaning I lost momentum and had to use the evil accelerator to get going again after stopping for a red. It was a valiant attempt, even if I do say so myself, and it will go down in the record books as an eight-out-of-ten, arriving at the ground as I did with 98% showing on the readout. Eco Worrier can also be played over longer distances of course and I often try to beat previous power consumptions as something to do to pass the time on journeys I know well. I’m not saying it’s not sad or weird, because clearly it is, but I thought I’d share with the group as if any of you are stuck behind me during a particularly tense, high stakes game of Eco Worrier, then please don’t be annoyed or flash your hi-beams at me. I’m doing it for the planet.

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Fittingly, today was a visit of the team nicknamed after that other great electric vehicle – no, not the disability scooter but the Tram. Obviously, I get very excited by our visits to the Croydon Arena (until I get there), as a ride on an aforementioned tram is involved, but I still hate the ground and the bloody running track around the pitch. However, I have nothing but sympathy for the nice folks at Croydon who almost certainly get regular pelters about the ground from everyone in SCEFL. It’s not their fault and I’ll try not to mention it when we visit them in April….

It had apparently been a busy week off the pitch for The Crows with more old faces returning to the fold and very gradually we’re starting to strengthen in all areas. Mind you, one of the by-products of using a lot of our younger players this season will be the experience they get from playing at a higher level. Thursday night saw a Crows Under 18 team take on Mile Oak in the FA Youth Cup and come away with a 3-0 victory in which John Phillips scored twice and (reports have it) Oliver Welbourn bossed the game. I had intended to get down to the game, but work defeated me, and I’ll have to settle for watching the next round where we have Whitehawk U18’s on a Thursday night I believe, possibly the 20th, and at home. It’s going to be a delicate balancing act to continue to develop the youngsters but use them appropriately in the SCEFL when we need them. So far, they’ve not let us down in the slightest, and for this game, we probably had the youngest bench in Boro history.

But it was “old faces day”, as I said, and returning to the bosom of the Boro we had Connor Pring, who’s been on his “holidays” down with Herne Bay apparently, Franco Mici, who’s had a little dabble with our noisy neighbours, in addition to Jahmahl King borrowed once again (from Walton?) to help out the defence alongside a brand new face, Harvey Killick, on loan to us from East Grinstead Town. All had good games, Connor Pring in particularly looking very sharp in the midfield and complementing Phil Appiah as they both looked to run the show from the off.

The match itself was a pretty lively affair and Croydon can count themselves unlucky not to have come away with at least a point. They had the chances, particularly in the first half, and Dan Ellis made two quality saves to keep us in it when we seemed to have resigned ourselves to conceding an equaliser having taken the lead. However, there was to be no repeat of the Face of Thunder from the Deal game, and Dan’s celebrations at the final whistle were particularly heartfelt and striking. That kind of will to win is going to make a huge difference this season where every point will count. The Trams were beaten by the best piece of attacking play in the game. Luke Leppard, a constant handful on his rightful return to the front line, battled and won the ball in midfield, feeding a pass out to Connor Pring. Connor jinked his way past desperate defenders to the goal line before cutting the ball back for Dom Welsh to stroke home majestically from about 2 yards. The goal came on 13 minutes and had everything you could hope for – desire from Luke to win the ball, skill and drive from Connor to cause problems, and the anticipation from Dom to read the play and be in the right place and exactly the right time. We need more of that please!

From here on, the game evened out and the Trams gradually played their way back into it, also apparently entertaining some new faces of their own. Dan Ellis made those saves and we reached half time with our noses still in front, although not without a couple of scares. The second period was very even and could’ve gone either way, although the chances for the Trams were limited to shots mostly wide of the Boro goal. Boro themselves had several opportunities to kill it off, Luke Leppard opting to pass when he’d got himself in front of the keeper and should’ve shot – be greedy, Luke – and John Phillips hitting a rasping volley that was headed off the line by a covering defender with the keeper well beaten. The important thing of course is we held on, to claim our third victory of the season, and our second clean sheet after K Sports, with the brand-new defence of Killick, King, Carbune and Boddy acquitting themselves admirably. Bods was pushed out to left back with a neck injury and not supposed to head the ball but he’s Tom Boddy, so he still went up for corners and made some crucial aerial interventions. That’s what he does.

The points are especially welcome, not to mention the dizzy heights of 10th, as we have a short series of tough games now, away in succession to the two promotion contenders. Anything from either of those games would be huge in a season that’s starting to become enjoyable for completely different reasons to the previous two. It’s warming the cockles of everyone’s hearts to see the team battle and work for everything, no quarter given and certainly none asked. It’s not pretty at times but then even the beautiful game needs a face pack and a bit of lippy on occasion.

On we go. Forza Crows!

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