Yesterday at Bracknell Town was good, bad and ugly, though the bottom line shows that we’ve gone out of the Isthmian League Cup at the Preliminary Round stage. It was a crazy night, one in which we managed to score three times away from home. The vast majority of the time, you’d think that scoring three times away from home would give you a win, and deservedly so. This is Kingstonian, however, and these three goals all happened to be equalising goals as we kept having to fight back from one goal down.
The goals we conceded were absolutely maddening. OK, there were one or two mitigating circumstances – Sean Francis, playing his first game of the season since re-joining at the weekend, has no match fitness (considering that, he did well). Leo Chambers was hurt in stoppage time in the first half with a toe injury, and then Andrew Musungu looked like he may have hyperextended his knee a little which can lead to something rather serious but seems not to have done this time. So, the defence was being shuffled and re-shuffled all night. But, we kept falling victim to individual defensive errors from which the Robins from Bracknell were all too happy to take advantage.
Going forward, for large parts of the game, we looked good. We could have been two up before Bracknell scored their opener, Elliott Buchanan scored two absolutely sublime free kicks, Connor Dymond scored the other and again looked to be a good signing. When the defensive injuries came, we missed the engine of Manolis Gogonas, who had to go to full back, but I’ve seen enough in the brief glimpses of Connor and Shaun McAuley that there’s a good central midfield on our books, we have to be patient with them until they are match fit, they are quality players and strike me as being leaders to boot. Louie Theophanous was victimised several times by a fine Bracknell goalkeeping performance, Elliott was always a threat, to say there’s goals there is an understatement. Defences will have to be careful to never give away free kicks around the penalty area. Mo Faal is entertaining, I never know what he’s going to do (I’m not convinced he does), but he’s got to learn to be more clinical when given clear cut chances, he gets enough of them, he creates enough of them, he needs to calm down a bit and up that conversion rate.
The effort has been there in the last two games, that is for sure, I will not fault any player for that. The greatest concern for me at the moment is Rob Tolfrey’s form, there’s something not quite right there and that echoes out into the back four. It could be that there’s not been a settled back four, it could be something else that I have no clue about, but communication between back four and goalkeeper hasn’t been good, so our defence always feels tentative, which is not a happy feeling to have. I’m desperately hoping that I’ve just written a paragraph of complete dingo’s wotsits and I am just plain wrong.
A few words for our hosts last night – I last visited Larges Lane about six or seven years ago, I can’t remember how long it’s been to be truthful, for an FA Youth Cup match during the time when I was the hon sec for the Under 18s (we won that night and went on to undeservedly lose to Aldershot Town, then a league club, in the last minute…). The ground has transformed, they’ve put in a 3g pitch, there’s positive vibes all over the ground (oh for some of them…). They have a good team and it feels like they are thoroughly enjoying life back in the Isthmian League. There are good people there at Bracknell Town, it’s a pleasant place to watch football in and I wish them well, I just hope we didn’t seem too depressed after the game.
But we need to find a way to win a match, in fact we haven’t even led a match just yet, so maybe we ought to adopt the old Danny Blanchflower saying of we must equalise before they score their first goal… I don’t care much for how we win a match, remember Manchester United have never complained about winning the 1977 FA Cup thanks to a deflection off Jimmy Greenhoff’s backside (can you tell that I’m still complaining?), as long as we win one. Then, the hope is that we’ll get on a roll (not a bread one or Swiss one) and keep the momentum going. It is hard to keep positive, I’ve sat here at work feeling rather forlorn thinking about last night, to be honest, but I know we have good players.
It’s a big weekend coming up with two home games (easy to forget that we’ve only had one home game so far, and weird stuff always happens on opening day). Friday night is when Dorking Wanderers visit the KGF – any moans from me about a Friday night are completely thrown away when the realisation comes that I can sit and watch the Rugby League Challenge Cup Final for the first time in years – and then it’s the big local derby against Corinthian-Casuals. All is not lost, this can absolutely be turned around, we’re not going run out of fight just two weeks into the season. Let’s get it on.