Pico Wins It Late For the K’s
Is there a finer Ryman League ground in which to while away a sunny day? Two open terraces, a bright yellow/blue colour scheme, friendly locals (unique Islanders who may have voted 71% for Brexit but would probably vote to leave the UK if they were asked), the Thames Estuary to paddle in at half-time, a passing container ship to entertain during mid-match lulls and a huge gang of Primary School-age children who race around in a pack singing a song entitled “Where’s Wally?” , an entirely reasonable enquiry based upon the red and white hoops/stripes of the K’s home shirt.
Sure, we’ve lost there, we’ve drawn there, we’ve shouted at erstwhile bête noire Steve “Nutsy” Sheehan there, we’ve even witnessed a K’s fan fall into the back of the goal there (an incident apparently seared into the memory of the Canvey keeper who took the trouble to ask the away support whether said fan would be attending this year) – but we’ve never had a bad trip to Canvey Island.
And 2016/17 proved no exception. K’s were good on Saturday, winning through a late Pico goal and fully deserving the three points. We're 11th and looking up rather than down.
Plus it’s official: we have a midfield. While the plaudits have been going to new signing Michael “Connor Wickham” Onuvwigun (full credit to Tommy Williams for spotting him), who is a devastatingly effective mix of Harold Odamatey (ball-winning) and Dan Sweeney (passing), his partnership with Sean Bonnett-Johnson (“SBJ”) has been the revelation.
SBJ has elevated himself from quiet bench-warming utility man, formerly filling in a right-back and right-midfield at various stages last season, into a bona fide central midfielder, shouting instructions, demanding positional changes and generally looking like a leader.
He and Onuvwigun are forming the base for K’s upturn in fortunes, freeing Aaron “Norman” Lamont and Joe Turner to link up with Pico and Ryan Moss head of them.
Lamont played No 10 on Monday against Bognor but played in off the wing on Saturday (Political Historian Joke of the day from Ali Kazemi: “Lamont’s always more comfortable at No 11”) where he was equally effective.
The opening goal came from a typical jinking run across the face of the box before a low Norman strike deflected off Sheehan sending the keeper the wrong way.
Canvey, who lost 3-2 to Potters Bar Town in FA Cup midweek, looked all at sea/Estuary but K’s gradually drifted deeper as the second-half progressed, gifting territory and, critically, confidence to the opposition. It’s fine to kill a game but surely better to murder the opposition with a second and third goal. As it was, the equaliser, when it arrived with 14 minutes remaining, was a product of allowing too many crosses into the box and eventually Anthony Stokes headed in past Tolfrey.
At this stage, K’s looked likely to concede another until Steve Sheehan’s cool finally began to crack, the centre-back driving forward wildly into midfield, gesturing to the away support (an ironic thumbs-up) and finally losing a memorable 50-50 challenge to Danny Gallagher. Sheehan still found time to fling an elbow in Ryan Moss’s face/money-maker (leading to the striker’s substitution) and then launched a cynical lunge on another player as K’s broke forward in the 87th minute.
The referee thankfully played advantage as the ball broke loose and SBJ crossed from the right byline, the ball hung tantalisingly in the air and Pico – realising swiftly that the ball was floating behind him – hooked his leg round on the turn and volleyed into the net. His marker Sheehan, meanwhile, remained prostrate in the D with his arms in the air. Was it a bicycle kick? No. Was it a very good goal? Yes. Can Sheehan ultimately be held responsible for Canvey 's defeat? Most probably.
Match report by Taimour Lay.