The Bryant and Daniel Show Wins the Game for K's
match report by Simon Grier, photos by Simon Roe
Will-he-won’t-he transfer sagas don’t tend to feature much in the Isthmian Premier. But despite not having yellow-clad Sky Sports News presenters tracking his every move across south-west London, for 48 hours last weekend Bryant Akono Bilongo was the talk of the Ks rumour mill.
In the end he didn’t make the move to Stamford Bridge, or even Kingsmeadow where Chelsea’s academy team play alongside their women, but instead put pen-to-paper on a deal to stay at Ks until the end of the season.
And in a tight game at Bowers and Pitsea he showed exactly why he’d caught the eye of scouts from such a high level of the football pyramid.
Until the 75th minute this was a game following the pattern of some of Ks’ other recent disappointments. Hayden Bird’s side had plenty of control and plenty of possession in the opposition half. It must be a long time since they’ve had so many corners in a game – double figures, easily – and in few of Rob Tolfrey’s 562 Ks appearances can he have had so little to do.
And yet, as has often been the case in recent weeks, all of that territory and possession yielded few clear-cut chances against a well-organised home defence. Ks needed some sort of spark to actually unlock Bowers’ defence and eventually it was Bilongo who showed his quality to provide it.
Getting forward down the left he found his path to cross blocked. But instead of just forlornly trying to squeeze the ball through a non-existent gap he checked back as if to look for support behind him only to turn back again towards the touchline at lightning speed.
It created a small pocket of space that was just about enough to deliver a low cross into the six-yard box. Daniel Ajakaiye got in front of his man to arrive first and divert a close-range volley into the roof of the net.
It wasn’t a straightforward finish and Ajakaiye rightly won plaudits for his ninth goal of the season; but even more credit went to Bilongo for fashioning the chance after a turbulent week.
It had, until that point, been a frustrating game for Ks with chances particularly at a premium in the first half. Nyren Clunis volleyed over, Ollie Cook headed wide and Simon Cooper missed the target with a powerful shot, all from corners. Goalkeeper Mitchel Beaney did well to save one-on-one from Nyren Clunis after a Kenny Beaney through ball.
Bowers substitute Quentin Monville fired narrowly over after the break before Mitchel Beaney did well to save a powerful Declan Skura header. Clunis got his head to the rebound but the angle was too acute and he could only hit the post.
Bird introduced Jason Banton to try to up the creativity but it still seemed like it would be one of those days until Bilongo’s magic opened the door on 75 minutes.
Clunis had an effort deflected narrowly wide and Cooper headed over before Bird withdrew Ajakaiye and looked to shut the game down. Ks did that with a minimum of fuss, Monville firing wide with the home side’s best chance and Tolfrey getting through 90 minutes without having to make a noteworthy save.
Bowers and Pitsea: Mitchel Beeney, Alex Bentley, Thomas Stephen, Adetayo Osifuwa, Callum Leahy, Ben Sartain, Bradley Sach, Chris Millar, James Thomas, Danny Norton, Michael Ademiluyi.
Subs: Quentin Monville (for Chris Millar, HT), Lewis Manor, Tobias Braney (for Adetayo Osifuwa, 80m), Martyn Guest, Luca Albon (for Ben Sartain, 66m)
Goal scorer: Daniel Ajakaiye (76m, 0-1)