The new football season has started for AFC Croydon Athletic with plenty of optimism for the fixtures ahead despite losing their top goal scorer.
Manager Kevin Rayner was busy during the closed season assessing his players and looking to build on the firm foundations laid in his first year at the club, writes Paul Smith.
Training got underway toward the end of June with Rayner looking to improve on last season’s seventh place finish.
One notable departure is Warren Mfula who was pursued by many clubs after he netted 45 goals for The Rams in 42 games.
It was only when Dartford FC, playing in the National League South Division, offered him a trial that he was tempted to see if he could make it three levels higher in The Pyramid. They offered him a contract and he leaves with the club’s good wishes.
The problem of where the goals will come from following Mfula’s departure seem to have been solved from within – in the shape of Nahum Green.
He made 33 appearances last season scoring just two goals but he has started this campaign on fire netting five goals in two matches; two against Sheppey United followed by a hat-trick in the opening league victory at Rochester United.
Coming into the squad is a new goalkeeper Francis Ameyaw, who has been a regular feature for many seasons at local rivals Croydon FC. The big shot stopper is a real presence in the goal area although a closed season injury has limited his appearances.
New for this season is the Under 21 side playing in the fledgling John Bennett Development League, part of the Combined Counties Football League.
Rams favourite Dan Burnett, who has been the regular first-team goalkeeper for the last three years and a former Supporters’ Player of the Year, has been appointed Manager.
However, he hasn’t yet hung up his boots and gloves with a couple of appearances for the first team with Ameyaw out injured.
The season opened with a thrilling cup-tie at Sheppey United in the earliest rounds of the Emirates FA Cup. Sheppey eventually ran out 3-2 winners although a draw would have been a fairer result with striker Andy Walker hitting the post in injury time as The Rams piled on the pressure.
The opening league game was better and a 3-1 win at Rochester United could easily have been more as The Rams comfortably secured their first points. The first home game saw a tight encounter against last season’s runners- up Crowborough Athletic who eventually won the game 2-0.
September sees four games at the Mayfield Stadium starting on Sunday September 10 with a visit from Bearsted in the Buildbase FA Vase 1st Qualifying Round; kick-off 3pm.
Providing that doesn’t end in a draw then Cray Valley PM are the visitors on Tuesday September 12 and the following week Tunbridge Wells also come to the Thornton Heath ground with both games kicking off at 7.45pm. The month ends on September 30 with a home tie against Deal Town .
Why not come along and support your local team? The Stadium is situated at the far end of Mayfield Road. You will be promised a warm welcome! Admission is adults £7, over 60s £5, under 16s £3 and under 12s admitted free with an adult.
Pictured: Nahum Green
Pictured: Dan Burnett
Pictured: Francis Ameyaw