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Kingstonian 2
Wells (18'), McCollin (86')
1 Grays Athletic
Michael-Percil (9')

K’s Comeback for Important Win

‘We’re flawed because we always want so much more. We’re ruined because we get these things, and wish for what we had.’

It is unlikely Don Draper had the bruising presence of Ricky Sappleton on his mind as he cruised around leafy Ossining in New York State wondering what had become of his former wife and her new husband.

Either way, there were plenty of mad men standing on the Athletics End midway through the second half of Kingstonian’s just-outside-the-play-offs clash with Grays.

In front of our eyes the hooped Brazil were toiling, in particular our much-fabled attacking quartet who were displaying similar levels of cohesion to those managed by the defence of their Samba counterparts during the World Cup semi-final in 2014.

And when our eyes dropped to see what social media was up to, OH MY GOD RICKY SAPPLETON HAS SCORED A HAT-TRICK. Put out to pasture in a remote corner of south-east London at the same time the Lord Honourable Andre McCollin returned, Sapps had scored not once, not even a Lewes-esque twice, but three times. Against Dulwich. Dulwich!

How grating those VCD church bells must have sounded to the pink-and-blue-scarved away fans who had dared venture somewhere quite so undesirable.

Back to Kingsmeadow, and the attritional non-league fare unfolding before us. The visiting Grays had gone ahead early through a well-placed Roman Michael-Percil strike. George Wells had his first K’s corner bundled behind for another by the relieved debutant keeper, Tom Hadland. The respite was temporary. Wells tried his luck again and with perfect precision arced his set-piece over both the keeper, and the man guarding the back post.

Those corners owed a great deal to the wind, as did the rest of the match. When the ball wasn’t in the air, it was being thrown in. Or goal-kicked. Or overhit. Or misplaced. Or retrieved from the car park.

Pico Gomez did draw a good save from Hadland in first-half injury time having earlier skewed a shot wide, but this was not a game for posterity. Take the point and move on.

Then on 84 minutes, Joao Carlos picked up a second yellow card in as many minutes for bizarrely taking Aaron Goode down off the ball. Before we knew it, McCollin was racing clear on to an inch-perfect Lee O’Leary pass and slipping the ball over Hadland and in to the net.

Footballing equilibrium had in one swipe of a right boot been restored. And Don Draper returned to his younger, better-looking model in Manhattan. We can never stop wanting more.

Match report by Rupert Cane.

Published Wednesday 12th September 2018