From Franceville to Sudbury
Plus ça change. This was my first K’s game since Boxing Day. It followed a familiar 2016 sort of pattern. Neat passing in several passages. Ryan Moss. Alan Inns heading the ball. Joe Turner racing around on the left-wing. Ryan Moss. Half-chances created. Half-chances missed. Occasional defensive fear. Ryan Moss. A lead. But an always precarious lead. Dropping deep as a second-half wears on. An equaliser. Bad opposition emboldened by K’s caution. 1-1. A feeling of points dropped. Being mid-table. Very mid-table. Perfectly mid-table. 12th of 24. Equidistantly perched betwixt top and bottom.
There were some changes (for this part-time fan, at any rate). Lewis Taylor, with flowing Bullard-esque golden locks, rampaged around midfield, somehow occupying centre and periphery all at the same time. It felt like the summer of 2013. Or whenever it was the last time I saw him. Someone called Shaun McAuley, on loan from Oxford City, looked like Peter Dean on skill-steroids. Substitute Evans Kouassi supplied the pacy wing-play in the final moments, with Youssef Bamba absent.
So, some differences. But also a comforting consistency of style and result as the cold bit into my defenceless toes. The edge of being effective, the precipice of productivity, Kingstonian provided the crowd with a respectable, meaningless 1-1 draw in the sometime snow.
There’s something about plastic pitches that encourages tepid atmosphere and training-ground tempo. The smell of grass is a necessary ingredient for matchday intensity. AFC Sudbury keeper Marcus Garnham, an old favourite of the K’s travelling support since his days at Bury Town, took time out in the first-half to tell us he hated diving on it because it “ripped the hair off his legs”.
This may explain his belated attempt to stop Sean Bonnett-Johnson’s shot just before half-time – although a slight deflection helped the 20-yard plastic-scudding effort onto the inside of the post and into the net.
Garnham also informed us of the differences between his two pairs of gloves, his work as a PE teacher, life in Ipswich and his frustration with London property prices.
While this all amounted to a cunning plan to ensure a distracted concession of a second goal, Garnham instead produced save after save in the second-half, from Moss, Taylor and Turner. Taylor then pulled a superb chance wide after Garnham had uncharacteristically palmed the ball back into a danger area.
As K’s eventually dropped deeper, the relegation-threatened Suds sensed the chance. James Baker, who Garnham informed us can play in 5 different positions, waltzed past three defenders and smashed the ball high past Rob Tolfrey.
Ten minutes still remained. But K’s settled for a point, perhaps as a result of recent late awayday traumas.
Having started the day in 12th, we ended the day in… 12th. Plus ça change.
Match report by Taimour Lay.