Darko Scores Winner at East Thurrock
It’s never a good sign when you see your team’s manager on the teamsheet, but despite Tommy Williams emergency substitute role, Kingstonian’s impressive run of form continued with a 1-0 win at fifth placed East Thurrock. Jesse Darko grabbed the crucial winner, sweeping the ball high into the roof of the net in 75th minute to secure three points.
The Kingstonian side, riddled with injuries, picked itself to such an extent that the bench was filled with untried youngsters and members of the coaching staff. Despite that, this was no smash and grab win for Ks. Both sides missed chances, and while Rob Tolfrey provided his regular heroics to keep the scores level, it was Daniel Sweeney that stood out, controlling the game from midfield with bursts forward and sterling defensive endeavour alongside stand-in midfield Pico Gomez.
The first half was an even affair, but neither side created any real openings. A bobble-y pitch, which brought back memories of a backpass bouncing over Tolfrey’s foot in Kingstonian’s 2-0 defeat at the same ground last year, prevented much attacking verve being displayed. Ks’ attempts to attack with pace against a backline getting little protection from the midfield were often undone by passes getting caught in the muddied mire, meaning Elvis Hammond and Jesse Darko were often isolated, with the forays forward of Alex Addai, and the linkup play from the Brothers Casey (not real brothers) on the opposite wing providing Ks best attacking outlet.
The second half saw more chances more both sides. Kingstonian pressed first, with Addai continuing to cause problems down the right-hand side. One cross went all the way across the goal line, with no attacker there to finish the job, before a second one led to the moment of the game. Addai’s cross found Josh Casey at the back post, and while goalkeeper David Hughes got two hands, the ball squirmed loose and seemed to be heading towards Elvis Hammond and the unguarded net before defender Paul Goodacre produced an astonishing intervention; flicking the ball over his own head, and the crossbar with the back of his heel. At the other end, an even better chance fell to Lewis Smith, who found himself with acres of space at point-blank range. Rob Tolfrey produced a stunning save to deny Smith, but in reality, the keeper shouldn’t have been given a chance to.
Eventually, Ks grabbed the winner in the 75th minute. Pico Gomez was slipped in down the left channel, and while the covering challenge denied the Spaniard the chance to shoot, the ball fell to Darko who made no mistake from eight yards to win the game. From that point on, Kingstonian held on resolutely, with Adam Doyle impressing at the heart of the defense to seal an impressive away win. A good three points, even without a Tommy Williams cameo.
Match report by Jamie Cutteridge.