Brightlingsea Regent report
report by James Maw
Kingstonian dug deep to secure a 3-1 victory over Brightlingsea Regent on the day goalkeeper and fan favourite Rob Tolfrey became our record appearance maker.
Before the match, Tolfs was treated to a selection of video messages from former team-mates and managers, while the whole team later warmed up wearing Rob Tolfrey t-shirts, and fans serenaded him with various chants throughout the game.
But the legendary No 1 was forced to wait to celebrate his milestone, as K’s needed two goals in the last 20 minutes to finally secure the win the early stages had suggested may be a formality.
Kingstonian flew out of the traps full of confidence after scoring eight in the midweek FA Cup replay against Oxhey Jets, and took an early lead when Gus Sow superbly fired home an eleventh minute penalty.
The fantastic football continued, and on 40 minutes Daniel Ajakaiye almost scored a goal of the season contender when he controlled the ball brilliantly before firing a first-time volley just over from a tight angle.
But after a more ponderous start to the second half, Brightlingsea leveled when Charlie Durling swept the ball into the net after a corner on 59 minutes.
Rather than panic, K’s came roaring back to life, and once again pushed hard to get their noses back in front.
The game changed on 71 minutes when Elliott Buchanan replaced Rhys Murrell-Williamson and took up a central role as Hayden Bird re-jigged his front-line. Within a minute Kingstonian were back in front, with Buchanan threading a ball throw to Sow, who scored for Ajakaiye to tap home.
The hosts continued to pepper the visitors’ goal with shots,with Buchanan very much involved, and on 82 minutes it was 3-1 and game over when Jason Banton blasted home his first league goal of the season.
Speaking after the game, Bird was quick to praise his super sub for a decisive contribution.
“Elliott did very well, as he always does,” said Bird. “He's a very good player and a very important member of our squad. The fact he isn't playing as much football as he'd like is testament to Daniel Ajakaiye. But we're only five games into the league campaign, and there's a lot of football to be played.”
He went on to insist that his team still had plenty of work to do for the season ahead.
“We've got to try to improve. I'm not overly impressed with the performance today - there were good parts and bad parts. The goal we conceded was a little soft, and I think we could have killed them off earlier. In the final third we need to be a little more clinical, but we've scored another three goals today, and we have to compliment the players on that.”
Bird also had a word for the man of the day, Rob Tolfrey, who was able to celebrate his historic achievement with K’s sat top of the league.
“It would be an injustice for me to stand here and try to find the words to explain his value to this club, because words can't explain how valuable he is,” said Bird.
“I think he's the best goalkeeper in the league and Kingstonian will continue to have the best goalkeeper in the league for many years to come.”
Tolfrey, who was forced to wait longer than expected for his historic day due to the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons being truncated due to the Covid-19 pandemic, is now keen to make even more history.
“I got to 32 and I knew the game was coming up,” Tolfrey said. “But then we had two seasons of the pandemic and I thought 'how long can I keep doing this and keep training twice a week when I've got a young family?' Now it's done I've got the desire and the ambition to go on and achieve other things now.”
Brightlingsea Regent: Charlie Turner, Cadell Fraser-Robinson, Billy Wales, Charlie Durling, Jamie Bennett, Jake Thompson, Marcus Gouldbourne, Harry McDonald, Kennedy Feyi, Kane Gilbert, Lewis Byrne-Hewitt.
Subs: Dean Ager (for Cadell Fraser-Robinson, 83m), Max Booth (for Kane Gilbert, 74m), Chris Ribchester, Reggie Gregory (for Kennedy Feyi, 80m)