Seven Up for Kingstonian
Having lost 6-0 away to Ks last season, Harlow Town might have been glad to avoiding the harrowing memories thanks to their hosts' switch from Fetcham Grove to King George's Field. But they ran into an even more dominant opponent this time, as Ks racked up seven goals without reply.
It is easy to question whether Ks were good or Harlow were poor but in truth, both statements are equally true. Ks played some fine football, attacking with confidence and finishing numerous chances off with style. Debutant Alfie Doughty particularly impressed, his pace and trickery wreaking havoc while also scoring two goals. But Ks were also aided by their disorganised and error-strewn opponents, who at times left alarming amounts of space in their defence.
Doughty only waited seven minutes into his debut to make an impact, flying down the left to get to the byline and pulling the ball back for David Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick calmly shimmied inside a defender before blasting home from about 15 yards out.
Three minutes later it was 2-0, Fitzpatrick crossing for Louie Theophanous to power home first time from close range. Goalkeeper Josh Bexon got a fingertip to it but could not prevent it finding the roof of the net.
Bexon saved well with his legs after Tyler Brown split the defence well to set up Doughty but the game was over as a contest on 27 minutes. Jay Gasson headed the ball into the box and Theophanous found the space to convert. He might have had a hat-trick a minute later after finding acres of space behind the defence, but he fired wide.
Brown shot narrowly wide after another neat move involving Theophanous and Shaun McAuley before Ks made it four in just the 36th minute. The build-up was highly reminiscent of the first goal with Doughty again using his pace to the get to the by-line and again finding Fitzpatrick with a low cross. This time Fitzpatrick's shot hit defender Harold Joseph before deflecting towards Bexon, only to squirm free into the net, credited - perhaps a touch harshly - as an own goal for the goalkeeper.
A half-time double substitution saw the visitors reorganise by introducing two ex-Ks in Paul Rodgers and Nathan Koranteng, but little upturn in their fortunes. It was 5-0 within five minutes of the break, Doughty deservedly getting on the scoresheet when he outjumped Rodgers at the far post to head home a Fitzpatrick cross. And a rare quiet spell of the game was soon punctuated by another Doughty goal, this time as he raced onto a long ball over the top before slotting past Bexon.
Ks were sensing blood at this point and continued to attack with James Daly heading over, Bexon making a sharp save from Tommy Brewer and Elliott Buchanan coming close with a free kick. It seemed strange that Ks had scored six and none of them had gone to Buchanan but six minutes from time he rectified that, lashing into the top corner after a Doughty layoff. It was struck with such power that it might have caused a nasty injury behind the goal if the net hadn't got in the way.
Ks pushed for an eighth and what would have been their highest competitive victory margin since a 10-0 win over Hitchin in 1966 but it wasn't to be, with a Brown goal struck off for an offside in the build-up and Bexon saving well from Buchanan. But Ks can be extremely pleased with a fine performance - the hope is now that it's a sign of things to come rather than a one-off against a struggling opponent.
Match report by Simon Grier.