Gulls Dent Kingstonian Play-Off Ambitions
Kingstonian missed the chance to put the playoff race back in their own hands with a disappointing 1-1 draw at home to Canvey Island. Missing their best creative outlet in the form of Pico Gomez, they struggled through most of the game but nonetheless led 1-0 unless a late free kick beat Rob Tolfrey from distance.
Jesse Darko replaced Gomez and tried to make a spectacular early mark when he powerfully backheeled but it was saved by Tim Brown. As entertaining as the effort was though, he may have been better served by turning and shooting.
A minute later Ks might have taken the lead. The lively Malachi Hudson broke free on goal but was denied by a fantastic last-ditch tackle from Josh Banton. Any error would surely have seen a penalty awarded and Banton sent off, so the perfection in his timing was crucial.
From the resulting corner, Alan Inns volleyed goalwards from point blank range but it slammed into Brown's chest before somehow being cleared. Josh Casey, influential in a central role, then teed up Steve Butterworth but he placed his shot too close to Brown.
The breakthrough came for Ks in injury time. After Ks had seemed to waste a short corner, Darko robbed Ashley Dumas who then tripped him in a desperate attempt to recover the ball. Darko took the penalty and despite his alarmingly short run-up, found the top corner with power and precision.
Neither side created much after the break. Marlon Agyakwa fired over for the visitors and in Ks' only meaningful chance, Darko latched on to a Rob Tolfrey free kick but powered narrowly wide. Substitute Charlie Barlow headed wide for the visitors but Ks didn't seem significantly under threat.
On 82 minutes the breakthrough came though. Steven Smith hit a hopeful free kick from over 30 yards which bobbled awkwardly in front of Tolfrey; nonetheless, the goalkeeper would have expected to keep it out rather than see it squirm past him into the bottom corner.
Neither side created much in a frustrating closing period, although Hudson may have had a late one-on-one had the linesman not flagged for Josh Casey being offside when not interfering with play. A draw was a fair result though, and Ks will have to overcome their injuries and suspensions and do better if their late tilt at the playoffs is to end in success.
Match report by Simon Grier.