All square inside the Mole Valley’s Arctic Circle
Kingstonian secured only a third draw of the league campaign against high-flying Folkestone Invicta on Saturday afternoon.
The previous stalemates were at home to Burgess Hill in August and Dorking Wanderers in December, both goalless. This was an altogether more impressive outcome considering both the recent form of the opposition, and the predictably unpredictable make-up of the K’s team.
There were two debutants down our left side, Toby Ajala and Taurean Roberts, most recently of Harlow and Harrow respectively. Both performed well. Up front Jason Williams started his first game following a brief cameo at Dorking a week ago, and a centre-back shortage meant the ever-dependable Manu Gogonas filled in alongside Sean Francis. Freddy Yao went to right-back, and Kevin Maclaren returned from suspension to skipper the side.
What happened in the first half? Not much. It was nice to see Fetcham Grove bathed in sunshine for the first time in what felt like months. The pitch was mostly green, too, which made a pleasant change from recent home fixtures, but the ball still bobbled and bounced all over the place, making passing an arduous task.
This is the best explanation for the paucity of chances before the interval. Williams got free but scuffed his effort wide when a square ball to the unmarked Tom Beere was probably the order of the day. Conner Hunte jinked in repeatedly like Dan Bennett. Rob Tolfrey had one save of note to make, comfortably holding an Adam Yusuff strike.
Sensing Invicta inertia, K’s perked up after the interval. On 53 minutes, Mike West chased a long ball and did well to cross before it drifted behind for a goal-kick. The visitors didn’t sufficiently clear their lines, allowing Williams to take aim and wrongfoot Tim Roberts, the leaden-footed Invicta keeper.
The goal had two effects. Firstly, it surprised K’s, and understandably so. For only the second time in a home league game under Leigh Dynan, we led.
It also woke Folkestone up. They had started the day in fourth place, fresh from beating leaders Billericay 72 hours earlier.
It took them nine minutes to equalise. Johan Ter Horst, recently of Hull City, initiated a slick move that involved he and Yussuf exchanging passes until a clear chance arrived. Yussuf it was who converted from close range.
The same man passed up a glorious chance to put his team ahead after K’s defence waited for an offside flag that never came. Happily, Tolfrey kept his concentration and stayed big to brilliantly deny the Folkestone striker. Ter Horst thwacked in the rebound but only after handling.
K’s offered glimpses going forward but it was Folkestone who did most of the running in the final stages. Tolfrey made two more fine saves before the final whistle, first denying Ian Draycott from a free-kick, and then pushing a low Ter Horst drive away from goal, with the angle too tight for Draycott to convert the rebound.
That there were only two minutes of additional time rather summed up the pedestrian nature of the contest, but, considering K’s recent home form, this was not a result to be sniffed at.
Match report by Rupert Cane.