K's got back to winning ways but left a mixed reaction around Kingsmeadow after wasteful finishing saw them struggle to finish off nine-man Wingate.
Ryan Moss gave them the lead as early as the third minute, using his pace to get on the end of an Aaron Goode long ball and side-footing past Bobby Smith.
It was to prove the only goal of the game, however, despite the visitors seeing two men sent off before the start of the second half.
First, Bobby Aisien was caught out by Charles Ofusu-Hene’s burst of pace, bringing him down for a professional foul in the 26th minute. Wingate were incensed at the decision and refused to let it drop, berating the referee at the time and then again after he blew for the half time interval. His patience shot, he booked captain Ahmet Rifat for dissent, having already cautioned Smith and Daniel McGonigle, and then almost immediately booked him again for throwing the ball in his general direction.
Meanwhile Ks’ best chance of the first half had fallen to Moss from a Charlie Knight cross, but Smith did superbly to tip it onto the post.
Wingate organised their nine men well after the break and did superbly to keep Ks at bay, albeit with a slice of luck and not much to offer going forwards. Moss missed two one-on-ones, the first saved by Smith and the second clipping the crossbar.
The striker also headed narrowly wide from a Matt Drage ball into the box, and was denied what appeared to be a blatant penalty perhaps because the referee did not want to have to send Ola Sogbanmu off as well.
Wingate had a game abandoned last season after five players saw red, leading chairman Aron Sharpe to declare that the club had, “Taken the appropriate steps to address the issue.”
Thankfully for the visitors the referee took a more lenient approach in the second half, otherwise he may have tested Sharpe’s assertion - he also declined to show Smith a second yellow for felling Andre McCollin in the box. This time he did award a spot-kick but, summing up Ks’ evening, McCollin slammed it against the post.
Wingate were limited only to a couple of longshots and while Ks fans were understandably nervous, Rob Tolfrey was never truly troubled.
Alan Dowson was bullish in the face of some negative reactions from sections of the home crowd. He was right to be pleased that Ks dominated possession, although against nine men it would be hard not to, and were untroubled defensively. Nonetheless his side’s finishing was poor and the strikers won’t get so many gilt-edged chances in the tougher games to follow.
Report: Simon Grier