K’s Held to a Draw by Brave Hillians
It was the home fixture against Burgess Hill last season that kickstarted Kingstonian’s dramatic survival bid. It was Craig Edwards’s first win as boss, and his new team shone in our final fixture at Kingsmeadow under the lights. The defence were solid, recording a first league clean sheet in almost four months. Further forward, the team’s best striker and midfielder each found the net. The 2-0 victory paved the way for a glorious escape from relegation.
Burgess Hill too just avoided the drop, and so Monday’s encounter remained an Isthmian Premier Division one. But the parallels stop there.
For this was Kingstonian’s first ‘home’ game at Leatherhead’s Fetcham Grove. We had all been there before, but this time felt so very different. For some, a well-received free club coach from Kingston. For others, a walk to the ground through sleepy Leatherhead, and over the quaint River Mole. Inside, no sign of blue, but a lot of green. The main stand seats. Burgess’s kit. The immaculate pitch and the leafy trees that line it, etc., etc.
The bar is bright and white and small. The caged outdoor drinking area was a welcome change and rendered the necking of pints before kick-off (a Kingsmeadow staple) unnecessary.
A healthy crowd of 252 suggests a good number of those who watched us at Kingsmeadow will continue to do so in Leatherhead, even if that figure was likely boosted by the famous win at Billericay a couple of days earlier.
‘Home’ fans hopeful for more of the same saw another fine defensive performance from Edwards’s side. We have now recorded four consecutive clean sheets, a notable achievement at any level of football.
Going forward, though, K’s were mostly blunted. It will be up to the boss to make sure we sufficiently replace the goal threat of Ryan Moss and Joe Turner, the difference-makers in last season’s corresponding fixture.
K’s were sometimes threatening before the break. The best chance fell to Charlie Taylor after his strike partner Tom Derry had blocked a defensive clearance, but the visiting keeper saved with his foot. Left-wing loanee Jack Parter headed against the bar and the offside flag denied Taylor on the rebound.
Sam Page had a looping header cleared off the line. Ricky Sappleton, a replacement for the injured Taylor shortly before half-time, then nearly bulldozed his way past the keeper.
As night drew near, K’s worsened. Suffering from the exertions of hanging on against big-spending Billericay for long periods, our final-third play lacked the requisite zip to break through a stubborn Burgess rearguard. When set-piece possibilities presented themselves, they were wasted.
So, goalless it finished. The football will quickly be forgotten – hardly a surprise there - but the landmark occasion will certainly not be.
Kingstonian: Rob Tolfrey, Aaron Goode, Toby Little, Manolis Gogonas, Sam Page, Paul Rodgers, Alec Fiddes, Lewis Taylor, Tom Derry, Charlie Taylor, Jack Parter.
Match report by Rupert Cane.