Kingstonian soundly beaten by Swifts
Nobody at Kingstonian was expecting the replay trip to Heybridge Swifts to be easy, but they probably weren’t expecting it to be quite so hard either.
Despite Heybridge’s impressive form – beaten just three times all season, one of which was at Exeter in the FA Cup – the two sides had been fairly evenly matched at Fetcham Grove on Sunday. That was not the case at Scraley Road though, where the home side thoroughly deserved their 5-1 win.
Given the turnover in the Ks squad it is surprising and quite impressive that it took until their sixth FA Trophy match before they lost, even if all three opponents have been lower in the league.
With key players leaving Craig Edwards’ squad, which was small to begin with, and then most of Leigh Dynan’s replacements being cup tied,
Ks have struggled throughout the competition to even name a full squad of players with Isthmian-level experience. That was again the case for this game, as an injury to Jerry Amoo and the release of popular midfielder Tom Collins meant Ks could name only two substitutes. Still, that was one more than against Thurrock.
It took just 14 minutes for Heybridge to open the scoring on a freezing cold night, Sam Bantick slotting home a low Juan Luque cross with ease. And when Kreshniq Krasnici converted a Joe Gardner cross a few minutes later it was clear that Ks were heading out of the competition.
Rob Tolfrey made some fine saves to keep the score down before half time but shortly afterwards Gardner beat him with a low shot to make it 3-0. Bantick, Heybridge’s top scorer but only a late substitute on Sunday, added a fourth and fifth to turn defeat into humiliation.
Ks grabbed a late consolation from the penalty spot through Reece Grant after Manolis Gogonas had been brought down, prompting goalkeeper Danny Sambridge to hurl his water bottle to the ground in anger. Given that the game was well over as a contest at this point the reaction can only have been prompted by him seeing a clean sheet bonus go up in unnecessary smoke.
This year’s Trophy can’t have been easy for Dynan given the limitations of the available squad and Ks got two rounds further than might reasonably have been expected when only 12 players were available at Thurrock. But nonetheless this performance was dismal and Ks were never in the game, Alec Fiddes and Claudiu Vilcu right to offer apologies on Twitter to the reasonably-sized travelling contingent.
Dynan’s clear-out continued the following morning with Vilcu and club stalwart Aaron Goode joining Collins in being released. The new manager is building a new side in his own image and with the FA Trophy run over he can do so without the distraction of having to replace half a team of cup-tied players every other week. But it’s now up to him and his new players to prove they can deliver by getting back to winning ways in the league.
Match report by Simon Grier.