While the footballing world’s eyes were trained on Manchester and then Rome, and the athletics community focused on events in Queensland, the two sports were brought together in unexpectedly thrilling fashion late on in Kingstonian’s fine win over Margate on Tuesday night.
A quarter-of-an-hour remained. The rain had intensified on the Kent coast, slickening the 3G surface. Monolis Gogonas, with the wind of a new chant in his sails, lungbusted forward in trademark fashion. He reached the corner flag, where two blue-shirted defenders closed in. After a bit of shielding, jostling and jiving, the ball went out for a throw-in to Margate.
Mano had ended up on the floor, face down. As he jangled the loose ball between his legs, in what might have been perceived as a time-wasting tactic, Margate’s number five, Ben Swift, saw red. Without hesitation he plucked the corner flag out of the glistening synthetic turf, and proceeded to jab the prostrate Gogonas not once, but twice.
The referee and his assistant – who had enjoyed the action from the front row – briefly consulted, before Swift saw red once again.
That moment, the one which all K’s fans in attendance will remember this game by for years to come, should not distract from what was an excellent performance from Leigh Dynan’s side. It probably sits alongside the wins as Billericay and Hendon as our best this season. And it is surely no coincidence two of those have come on plastic pitches, and all three away from Fetcham Grove.
For K’s have been so much happier on the road this term, and now boast the third best away-record in the Bostik Premier. The victory at fifth-placed, play-off chasing Margate contained all the ingredients of a textbook away performance. We rode our luck at times, the Gate twice hitting woodwork, but the back four was solid, and helped immensely by Rob Tolfrey behind it and Gogonas in front.
Our attacking players did their bit to help out, tracking and tackling. They also sensed nervousness from the home side early on and quickly asserted themselves, Muhammadu Faal again at the heart of things, all legs and arms, galloping forward and causing problems.
Having already gone close on a couple of occasions, the Dulwich loanee netted his second in as many games on 33 minutes. Leo Chambers scurried down the right and squared to Faal, whose first-time strike from the edge of the box took a slight deflection, whizzed over Lenny Pidgeley and in off the bar.
Margate started the second half better, as you would expect from a side chasing promotion. Baselle Aristride hit a post, and then Gogonas cleared a George Essuman header off the line.
K’s remained a threat. Pidgeley overcomplicated things under pressure from Jason Williams and then Daniel Ajakaiye and could only clear as far as Greg Cundle. His chip went over the stranded keeper but unfortunately the unguarded net too.
We didn’t have to wait long for goal number two. The lively Ajakaiye had too much pace for his defender down the right. He then intelligently picked out Williams, 12 yards out, who finished low and hard past Pidgeley.
Then came Swift’s moment of madness and actually, as is so often the case in one of football’s inexplicable truths, the depleted side improved. Still, there remained no way past Tolfrey.
K’s sub Alex Willis might have added a third at the end of yet another slick passing move that cut Margate open, and had the sizeable travelling support singing about the ‘AS Roma of the Isthmian’. He did not, but it mattered not. The K’s had secured another away win, a third consecutive clean sheet, and injected new hope. The season might have a positive ending yet.
Margate: Lenny Pidgeley, Matt Bodkin, Aaron Simpson, James Rogers, Ben Swift, George Essuman, Jay May, Jack Evans, Jordan Chiedozie, Frannie Collin, David Martin.
Subs: Orlando Smith (for Jay May, 71m), Patrick Lee, Lee Prescott, Aristide Bassele (for David Martin, 50m), Sam Blackman.
Kingstonian: Rob Tolfrey, Leo Chambers, Chris Arthur, Manolis Gogonas, Mark Phillips, Dan Bowry, Daniel Ajakaiye, Greg Cundle, Jason Williams, Michael West, Muhammadu Faal.
Subs: Freddy Yao (for Michael West, 72m), Tom Beere, Rob Bartley, Connor Hunte (for Greg Cundle, 85m), Alex Willis (for Jason Williams, 65m).
Goalscorers: Muhammadu Faal (33m, 0-1), Jason Williams (62m, 0-2)
Red card: Jason Swift (77m, illegal use of a corner flag)
Updated 21:09 - 11 Apr 2018 by Kingstonian FC