This is not a prediction, it’s a promise.
I could be accused of being obsessed with this, and I would reply with a shrug and a “mea culpa”. My record of not seeing K’s win away in a competitive match continues after last night’s 1-1 draw with Wingate and Finchley, but it came this close to being broken.
After two games, we now have two draws, sit in 15th place and have “og” as our top scorer with one. It’s a bit ironic that after a fairly chaotic pre-season in which we scored goals at a similar alarming rate to conceding them that our defence has looked rock solid for two games and our only goal scorer so far is the unfortunate Sean Cronin, the Wingate and Finchley defender who inexplicably yet deftly cushioned a header past his goalkeeper, off the post and into the net.
We played most of the game against ten men – after Tommy Tejan-Sie blasted a worldie past Rob Tolfrey to open the scoring in the third minute, Ahmet Rifat, a previous winner of this theoretical award, put himself firmly in the running for Silliest Red Card Against Kingstonian of the Year. His previous victory, earned for two yellow cards for dissent in thirty or so seconds in a match at Kingsmeadow in 2014, is almost unbeatable, but he had a go last night. Two bookings, one in the 10th minute (many complaints in the home prawn sandwich section that it wasn’t even a foul – I shall plead like Wenger and say that I didn’t see it properly, but we obviously and completely biasedly had no issue…) and then another in the 17th gave him an early bath. Quite why a player, who has just been booked (regardless of whether it’s contentious or not), then decides to plough through an opponent just a few minutes later is beyond my limited comprehension. He’s an influential player, but that’s not the right kind of influence that his team needs.
K’s then had a massive percentage of the possession for the rest of the game. Wingate and Finchley parked the bus, so to speak – this is not intended to be a derogatory comment, firstly it is precisely what happened and secondly, apart from Sean Cronin’s undeserved error, it worked thanks to our hosts’ well organised lines of defence. We did have our chances, we hit the bar late on, and then deep in stoppage time a classic “we thought we had scored, we were wrong, we were wrong” moment when Dan Thompson’s shot inside the six yard box was saved by the goalkeeper whilst we in the away prawn sandwich section were erupting celebrating a goal that never happened.
So it was a frustrating 1-1 draw, and it’s nice to be annoyed that we didn’t win, we’ve spent far too long accepting our fate and it’s unusual to leave an away game feeling a bit aggrieved not to have won. In a weird, most Kingstonian-like way, this is positive progress.
With that said, whilst the brand of football is actually nice to watch – I like possession football, partly because if the opponent doesn’t have the ball then they can’t score, partly because it makes thing appear that we’re dominating – there needed to be more cutting edge to what we were doing. It was like watching a handball game, in which the attacking team patiently plays the ball across field and back again, trying to pull the defence out of line and then the attackers explode into life and make their attempt at goal (they have to, otherwise the referees will penalise them for passivity). Except it took too long at times for us to try and get to the explosion stage, and at others we would force the ball into gaps that didn’t exist. My pet moan of the night was that we developed a habit of not paying attention to Sean Clohessy’s runs down the right as he frequently found lots of space but often he would be ignored or the ball would be badly overhit and the chance to do damage would disappear.
But it’ll come; we’re two games in, we have to be patient – I know that’s a really easy thing to say especially as I’m very very impatient – and soon it’ll come good. We are already a better team than we were for most of last season (especially during that run after the Bishop’s Stortford win) and there is absolutely scope for optimism. The attitude on the field seems to be spot on, heads never went down last night even though there was ample cause for them to do so, the players look like they’re playing for each other, we’re getting into good positions to score, but we’ve either been a little hesitant or we’ve run headlong into a goalkeeper in fine form. Next up will be Margate at home on Saturday, I don’t recall ever seeing an easy game against them, so this one will be no different, but don’t rule us out from winning this game, we’ve definitely got the talent to do so if we play to the best of our ability.
Now to venture out into deepest, darkest Croydon. It’s heaving down with rain, there’s no cricket at Lord’s (how did a sport that doesn’t ever get played when the clouds burst manage to get itself invented in England? Bonkers.), so I may be some time, captain…