Disappointing K's Beaten By Curfews
A warning. This may be a tough read.
In normal circumstances, a Surrey Senior Cup third round defeat against opposition two leagues below would be hugely disappointing.
But in the current climate, one beset by off-field uncertainty and angst, and on-field frustration, Tuesday’s 1-0 loss at Chertsey Town felt fairly catastrophic.
K’s had already suffered the ignominy of two embarrassing cup exits away to lower-league sides this season. Ryman Division One North’s VCD, remember, had been winless and goalless before they ripped Tommy Williams’s team to shreds in early September.
That humiliation came of the first hurdle of the latest disastrous FA Cup campaign. K’s at least made something of a go of it in the FA Trophy, beating Lewes and then Tonbridge Angels, before Southern League Division One South & West outfit North Leigh dumped us out in rural Oxfordshire.
(In case you missed it, North Leigh’s first round conquerors, South Park, also in step four, travel to Tranmere Rovers – a major cup finalist in this country in the last 20 years - on Saturday.)
The North Leigh loss was framed by the home team’s ruthlessness and Kingstonian’s poor finishing. It was much the same story at Alwyns Lane, Chertsey’s picturesque Combined Counties home, full of cover and colour and colourful language.
Captain Sam Page had warned his teammates in no uncertain terms, while they did their customary pre-match shuttle runs, that this wouldn’t be a night for the fainthearted. It was cold, the pitch was a bog, and the opposition would be physical.
But in light of K’s current Ryman Premier plight, consigned to mid-table mediocrity after a WLWLWL sort of season, this was an important night: a chance to keep silverware hopes alive, a chance to give the next three months some sort of meaning beyond simply fretting about potential groundshares and community clubs. The team was strong if not full-strength – Williams made six changes from the weekend win over Staines.
Simply put, K’s messed it up. Horribly. Tom Derry had an early header very well saved by Chico Ramos in the Chertsey goal. The visitors looked the more capable team technically, but as so often this season that superiority didn’t translate into goals.
Chertsey meanwhile took more or less the only opportunity that came their way, Connor Cullen following up his own shot – parried by debutant keeper Brannor Daly – and sliding the ball in off the underside of the bar on the half-hour. Tommy Williams, serving the ban he picked up at Havant and watching from behind the barrier that separated the dugouts and the supporters, put it down to poor defending rather than keeping, an all-too familiar tale.
K’s continued to dominate after the break and saw a succession of shots saved, blocked, put wide. Joe Turner had the best two, one superbly-hit volley deflected agonisingly past the post, another one-on-one kept out by Ramos. The big home stopper also saved well from Derry on a couple of occasions.
Other shots missed the target; threatening crosses only served to highlight the shortage of hoops in the box. The last 10 minutes were probably the most painful, as K’s displayed neither the requisite cool-headedness or quality to even come close to sending the tie – against a team 58 places below them, and who hadn’t kept a clean sheet since August - to penalties.
Desperate stuff, and made worse by the feeling it was an ending befitting of Kingstonian’s involvement in cup competitions this season.
Match report by Rupert Cane.