The natives are getting restless on the planet Kingstonia, and I can understand why. After a long run of decent results that have put us into the play-off zone, since the turn of the year whilst the wheels haven’t fallen off, they are wobbling pretty worryingly.
Over a week later, I still can’t really work out what to make of our game against the Tonbridge Angels. The first half was remarkable, a reasonably solid start, the defence goes to bits and we go two down, but we score twice in first half added time to go in level. Dean Inman’s 45th minute header was clinical, Shaun McAuley 45+3th blast from distance was glorious. The second half was an end-to-end affair, we had chances to put the game away but once we went behind ahead, we rarely looked able to equalise a second time. We blew several golden chances to take the lead when it was 2-2, but the abiding memory of the game was our unsteadiness at the back and anaemic tendencies in midfield.
It means that, apart from our away match at Corinthian-Casuals, I haven’t seen K’s win away from home this season (Knaphill ended in a draw, we happened to win the tie break). I am now getting hugely fed up with this statistic, in fact, well I would say what I really feel but I’m typing this before the watershed, but this has got to stop right now.
We thought that we had a week to prepare for the next league game but suddenly a Surrey Senior Cup tie was thrust upon us and we had to meet Carshalton Athletic last Wednesday. So a much-changed K’s side played a much-changed Robins team, and we had a game of two halves. The first half was desperately poor, extremely boring, low quality, but somehow we had the lead when on-loan Charlton lad Terrique Hall-Anderson slid the ball home just before the break.
The second half was completely different and was thrilling almost from start to finish. Carshalton didn’t deserve to be behind at the break, and it was little surprise that they equalised with a header at the near post. Their go ahead goal just after was once again unsteady defending that was amply punished, and things didn’t look good. Suddenly, K’s led when Rhys Murrell-Williamson blasted two into the net in quick succession. The last ten minutes were nervy as the Robins tried to force penalties but they weren’t able to and we qualified for the quarter-finals.
An away draw against Metropolitan Police or Merstham awaits; a very hard draw whoever wins at Imber Court this coming Tuesday night.
Yesterday against Whitehawk was the perfect opportunity to get back to the standards that we demand after a poor afternoon in Tonbridge. If you had asked someone who had never been to a non-league game, not told them who was in the play-off zone and who was bottom and then asked them to tell you who Whitehawk were, they would have confident told you that they were wearing hoops.
Whitehawk played very well, especially in the first half, and deserved their rewards. Kingstonian, on the other hand, were desperately poor. Dean Inman’s injury should not be an excuse, as things were beginning to get awkward beforehand. We took the lead in the fifteenth minute when Elliott Buchanan finished well after the Whitehawk defence forgot he was there, but then the visitors took over.
The first two Hawks goals, whilst taken very well indeed, were defensively awful, not helped in either case by a worryingly absent midfield. Whitehawk’s third was a bit of a fluke as a very wide shot was deflected home, but never mind that, they deserved it.
The second half was an improvement, but it would have been something special indeed if it hadn’t been. We did carve out one or two chances, but either we threatened to kill any birds in the air or the Hawks’ keeper made some excellent saves. Whinges about the timewasting by the Whitehawk number one conveniently forget how poorly we played in order to give him the situation in which he could do it. And anyway, don’t throw stones unless your own slate is clean, people.
It was an afternoon in which to find any positives is a struggle, though I thought that Dan Darbyshire made a positive difference when he came on in a difficult circumstance.
We have lost some good players recently – the injury to James Daly is terrible both for James himself and for us as a whole, ditto David Fitzpatrick. Charlton Athletic recalling both Ben Dempsey and Alfie Doughty has hurt us big time. Most of the new players have had difficult starts in K’s colours and need to settle down very quickly indeed and start producing.
We have two massively difficult games at Folkestone and home to Worthing coming up imminently and we need two big performances, two important wins and two afternoons of giving themselves and ourselves some confidence and belief that we can attain our goal.
If we are not careful, this season is in severe danger of imploding. It may already be, the next two games will be hugely indicative. At the moment, we look like a posse that has quickly been thrown together, a rag-tag outfit of strangers, on Saturday we reverted to the type we had to sit through at the beginning of the season and this is hugely alarming. I have lost my confidence in our chances of promotion this season, it will take a lot from the hoops for this to be reversed.