First Team 2 AFC Croydon Athletic 0

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Top scorer Byron Walker's second half double maintained Sevenoaks Town's Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division title hopes at Greatness Park on Saturday.


Walker broke the deadlock just past the hour mark with a measured lob and wrapped up the points ten minutes from time finishing off another good move as Town claimed a fifth successive win and maintained their one hundred percent record in 2017.


The victory leaves Town third, three points behind leaders Ashford, with a game in hand, trailing second placed Crowborough by two.


The game was spirited and competitive but not worthy of 12 yellow cards - and a red - with AFC Croydon defender Jenichell Santos sent off for his second offence three minutes from time. Town had seven players booked, leaving them facing an FA fine - having received only 24 in around 30 games previously this season.


Walker could have put Town ahead after only three minutes - but his acrobatic finish went over the bar. Kieron McCann shot wide and then visiting keeper Dan Burnett was forced to save at the feet of Billy Bennett.


Burnett and centre half Jack Higgins then survived getting in a tangle on the edge of the box. Sevenoaks stopper Rob French needed treatment after being caught in a challenge, before AFC Croydon's Nahum Green saw his low ball race across the face of the home goal, with no team mate on hand to prosper.


Sevenoaks defender Tom Ripley - who scored a hat-trick of headers in the club's last home game, then headed wide in the last action of the first half.


Walker saw his near post effort saved soon after the restart, before McCann put another effort off target. A touch of Walker quality finally eased Town in front - racing in to fire over the onrushing Burnett.


A minute later French floored league top scorer Warren Mfula on the edge of the box.

He was booked and then dived to his right to keep out AFC Croydon's skipper Ben Rayner's resulting free kick.


Town went close again through Corey Holder before McCann set up Walker for his second after 80 minutes, beating Burnett to the ball to settle the contest, earning Town their tenth home win of the season, the best record in the competition.


Our junior reporter, Alex Morgan, also gives his take on the match:


This hard fought, but in the end comfortable, 2-0 victory against AFC Croydon Athletic saw Sevenoaks Town continue their push for promotion. Despite being a game tarnished with numerous bookings, two goals in the second half from leading striker Byron Walker gave Sevenoaks the win.


The match started with some early pressure from Sevenoaks, with their closest chance coming when Walker met a Mickey Dalton cross with a bicycle kick that went narrowly wide. However, as the half progressed the opportunities dried up and neither team looked likely to break the deadlock. Both Harrison Carnegie and Kieron McCann had shots blocked, and on the stroke of half time, a header by centre back Tom Ripley from a Greg Benbow corner went just wide. Ripley could not repeat his recent cup heroics, when he netted a hat trick of headers. 


With clear cut chances few and far between, the half became increasingly fractious and scrappy, with a string of free kicks.  A collision between the Sevenoaks goalkeeper, Rob French, and a Croydon striker, resulted in a lengthy stoppage and tempers flared on a number of occassions.  By the end of the game, the referee had booked twelve players and sent one off for Croydon. 


Croydon started the second half with much greater intent. A long ball to visiting striker Warren Mfula saw him control the ball on his chest, before sending a well hit a volley into the hands of the Sevenoaks keeper. However, this early pressure did not last and Sevenoaks slowly gained control. The breakthrough came in the sixty-third minute, when  a piercing through ball from McCann found Walker on the left wing. After a burst of speed he was through one on one with the keeper and sent an immaculately placed lob into the goal to put Sevenoaks 1-0 up. Shortly after, goalkeeper French was forced to save a free kick he had conceded down the other end, when he fouled striker Mfula on the edge of his box. 


After a period of concerted pressure by Croydon, Walker’s second came from a counter-attack, with Dalton’s long clearance finding McCann, who duly played a square ball to the striker. From here, he neatly took the ball around the Croydon goal keeper before slotting it into the empty net. To make matters worse for the visiting team defender Jenichell Santos was given a red card just three minutes before the final whistle. 


This was a hard fought win and keeps Sevenoaks in the hunt for promotion.

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