Here comes the boom! x3
Westhumble bragging rights went to K’s as Leigh Dynan’s increasingly stable side completed a fourth away win in a row – lending credence to the theory that the Fetcham Grove pitch is indeed proving a curse and salvation will have to be found on the road.
It didn’t start well, however. Wanderers took the lead in the 21st minute when Mark Phillips was adjudged to have fouled the advancing Guiseppe Sole in the box. From my perfect view behind the goal (albeit at the other end of the ground), I clearly saw the ball deviate away from Phillips’ outstretched foot. The Back of the Net Video Action Replay was unfortunately released 24 hours later and could not be used to assist the referee.
Sole dispatched the spot-kick and a cold, sunny first-half descended into kick-ball and chase, enlivened only by the occasional intervention of Andre McCollin. Other entertainments included a fine view of Boxhill and the regular train services which race behind the ground at a distance of just a few metres.
And then former K Dean Hamlin – the latest in a long line of non-league footballers to enter the world of finance and let their sport suffer as a consequence (link here to Pico smoking a cigar at a City Xmas party…?) – sent a 20-yard back-pass agonisingly, comically close to an own-goal.
But the away fans had the covered end in the second half and thus the attempt to suck the ball in began in earnest, not before some hearty shouts headed in the direction of Nic Ciardini, the new winger-forward who was popping up on left and right like a re-born Sam Clayton.
To be fair to K’s, we had both Marvin Elliott and Kevin Maclaren out, so a patched-up midfield of Freddie Yao and Tom Beere only slowly began to assert themselves as the second period wore on.
Then the goals. Three brilliant goals. First, Michael West, the on-loan winger, cut in from the left and pinged a sweet, unstoppable drive past the keeper.
Suitably inspired, Ciardini cut in from the right and let fly from 25 yards, an Arjen Robben-esque belter which fully justified his race to the K’s fans and a gleeful rubbing of his own belly.
He wasn’t finished. Five minutes later, he shot from distance again, this time low and hard to the keeper’s left, prompting another set of hugs with the fans, perhaps in a forlorn search for Graham Wood.
So K’s climb to 13th. With the Surrey Senior Cup to be contested, new signings still being made (Jason Williams is the latest striker on the books) and a general air of optimism about heading to Tolworth, the end of this turbulent season may still have a few more memorable moments to offer.
Match report by Taimour Lay.