Late Ty Smith Goals Lifts K’s
Pictures of a proposed new ground in Chessington provided a welcome distraction for Ks fans from the fact that the team really haven’t been playing very well lately. Although question marks remain off the pitch though, a much-improved performance created a renewed sense of optimism on it as Ks kept their playoff hopes alive.
Despite being much the better side though it threatened to be a game of frustration. Unlike in the poor efforts at Needham Market and in the latter three quarters of the Wingate game Ks were able to test the opposition goalkeeper reasonably frequently. They found Josh James in fine form though, making at least three fine saves before Ty Smith eventually struck a 78th minute winner from well outside the box.
Tommy Williams signed ex-Met Police winger Joe Turner to freshen up the side and he nearly made an immediate impact, latching onto a Harold Odametey through ball and drawing a sharp save from James, albeit from an offside position.
James made an even better save on 20 minutes, reacting quickly and athletically to tip over a fierce 20-yarder from Dan Bennett that caught a nasty deflection. Two minutes later Turner tested him again, cutting inside after a fine run.
Pat Harding fired over for the visitors and then Pico Gomez came close with a header from a Smith corner but the teams went into half-time at 0-0.
Bennett and Gomez were both enjoying their best games for some weeks and combined to test James again shortly after the break. A Bennett free kick fell to the striker in the box and he drew another good save from James with an angled shot.
Ks got closer and closer, with first Andre McCollin hitting the bar after Gomez had played him in on goal and then James making another fine save, this time from a Bennett header after a pinpoint McCollin cross.
It was really threatening to not be Ks’ day as the referee ignored shouts for a penalty when Gomez was hauled down in the box. But it mattered not, as the ball was cleared only as far as Smith who drove it low into the bottom corner from at least thirty yards out. The goal sparked pandemonium on the bench, with Tommy Williams first to embrace the home fans. Smith was also delighted, vindicating his selection after a month out of the side.
The Hillians tried to find a way back but could only test Rob Tolfrey from distance as Ks held on for a vital win. Of Ks’ 12 remaining games seven are at home and eight are against teams in the bottom half; the playoffs are certainly a possibly if they can maintain this level of play and not come against goalkeepers as inspired as James every week.
Match report by Simon Grier.