K’s Stun Title Favourites With Last Minute Win
Kingstonian began their season with a trip to big-spending Billericay and came away with… Sorry, just give us a second… yeeeeeeeeeeeeeesssssss! Anyway, professionalism. Ks, without a ground, with low expectations (but a delightful pre-season trip to Gibraltar) took on Jermaine Pennant, Jamie O’Hara, Paul Konchesky, a bunch of good non-league players bought from divisions above and quite the mural along the back of the new main stand… and won 1-0 after Lewis Taylor scored in injury time. It was a timely reminder that football is stupid and brilliant and really, really stupid but unquestionably brilliant.
Make no mistake, this was no smash and grab from Ks. The first half was even and while neither side created any clear-cut chances, both had decent spells of possession and pressure but defences stayed on top. In fact, the closest both sides came to scoring was from free kicks; Toby Little’s was saved by Alan Julian while Pennant fired two off target.
If the first half saw Ks stay solid in defense, the second half was bit more… let’s say, last-ditch. After making three changes before the hour mark, Glenn Tamplin’s side began to assert themselves, as towering sub Adam Cunnington came on to cause repeated havoc in the Ks area, as the visitors were pinned back, clearing cross after cross, blocking shot after shot and heading it out for corner after corner. Jake Robinson came closest for ‘Ricay, heading against the post, while Billy Bricknell caused problems all afternoon. Despite the pressure, Ks’ back five of Rob Tolfrey, Aaron Goode, Sam Page, Paul Rodgers and Toby Little, who had never played together before, were immense – if the ball was there, they were getting something on it.
As the pressure built, so did Ks’ threat on the counter. Lewis Taylor tested Julian from a tight angle in a taste of what was to come, and Ricky Sappleton’s audacious attempt to chip the keeper from 30 yards came up short - this was not the big man’s most important contribution. With just over ten minutes to go, his poked through ball put Tom Derry through, and as Joe Ellul tried to deny Derry, he brought down the striker down and was rightly shown a red card. Minutes later, it seemed like Ks had missed their big chance; Pennant's poor clearance fell to Taylor, whose shot was parried away by Julian into the path of the onrushing Jack Parter. The angle was tight, his header was stooping and the ball… rolled agonisingly against the post and into Julian’s arms.
Ks were still to have the last word however. As Tamplin’s 10 men continued to search for a winner, Ks broke and Taylor found himself with a bit of space, running into the area. He smashed the ball high past Julian into the near post. Madness. Fans flew everywhere. Taylor hugged everyone in sight. We can’t explain what Rambo did on the touchline.
And after that… prime game management during the two and a half hours (ed: that might be an exaggeration, although it felt like it)of stoppage time. Ks are a better Bostik side than plucky underdogs, but a win over the heaviest favourites the league has ever seen felt more like a cup upset than the first day of the season. Ks, to a man, worked tirelessly, fought like lions and came out kings of Tamplin’s jungle. They’re those stars up in the sky, they’re those mountain peaks up high… they’re Kingston’s greatest.
Match report by Jamie Cutteridge.