Sweeney dulls the Hamlet
Ten man Kingstonian snatched a dramatic victory from local promotion rivals Dulwich in a pulsating game played in front of one of the largest crowds of the season.
Alan Dowson gave debuts to the two new signings, Jack Clark in the centre of a five man midfield with Iffey Allen playing wide on the right, as he played a 4-5-1 formation with Moss as the lone front man. Despite a numerical advantage in midfield Kingstonian were frequently over-run by a fluent Dulwich in a one sided first half. Returning former K's favourite Dean Lodge was often tormentor in chief as he ran the defence ragged and at one point even sprinted back 50 yards to cover at left back.
Dulwich were quickly into their stride and Bruce Hogg found his name in the book as early as the fourth minute as he clipped Lodge's heels after he had raced free. This was to prove significant later on as he faced the daunting prospect of marking a clearly motivated Lodge.
As Dulwich dominated the opening passage of the match with clever movement and well worked inter passing, the pressure mounted until the nineteenth minute when they took the lead. Jordan Clarke cut in from the left and his inviting cross was turned into his own net by the unfortunate Page.
Dulwich now threatened to over-run the home side as first Lodge went close before Clunis squandered a golden opportunity to double the lead when he fired over when clean through on Tolfrey.
With the home fans probably willing to accept only a one goal deficit at half time, Kingstonian engineered an improbable equaliser. Jack Clark latched onto a loose ball on the edge of the area and his left footed shot was well saved by Nlate, who palmed the ball aside but then rashly and unnecessarily brought Allen down as he followed up. McCollin calmly slotted the resulting penalty away.
The opening exchanges of the second half saw good chances for both sides as Tolfrey saved well from Adeniyi and Allen missed a clear header from a Moss cross. The most controversial point in the game came shortly afterwards as Hogg was second to a 50:50 ball, thereby fouling Lodge in the process. It appeared to be a yellow card offence, but the referee showed leniency to allow Hogg to stay on the pitch.
The tide was now starting to turn as Kingstonian clawed themselves back into the game and looking increasingly likely to score. First King dribbled through a static defence but shot straight at the keeper before Moss outmuscled two defenders from a long Tolfrey clearance before pulling his shot wide when clean through.
After a flurry of substitutions, with Sweeney replacing a visibly tiring Clark and Knight coming on for King, Kingstonian went up a gear and flooded forward. Knight proceeded to torment Boyer at right back and delivered a wicked cross which Pinnock diverted narrowly wide, much to Page's chagrin no doubt. Goode then headed against the outside of the post two yards out from a corner.
Just as Kingstonian looked bound to score, they were reduced to 10 men with ten minutes remaining as Hogg receiving a second yellow following a foul. Having played all game with only one attacker this hardly seemed to make any difference to Kingstonian. Racing forward on the counter attack, Knight again delivered a dangerous cross which the keeper could only punch to Sweeney on the edge of the area. He showed good strength to hold off the defender and even better composure as he buried a fierce shot low into the corner of the net.
A late flurry of corners were resolutely defended as Kingstonian ran out as dramatic winners.
Having been quite significantly out played in the first half, Kingstonian showed great character to fight their way back into a game that was rapidly looking like it might be beyond them. They were so successful in this that by the end of the game they were dominating themselves. Ryan Moss put in a massive shift as the lone front man, unselfishly working for the team, whilst the redoubtable Kavanagh was instrumental in wresting back control in midfield alongside the equally impressive Casey. The fact that Kingstonian could bring on players with the class of Knight and Sweeney for the final 20 minutes made a big difference as both contributed to an excellent victory.
Report: Peter Allan