K's into FA Youth Cup First Qualifying Round
Out of the three games played so far by Kingstonian's Under 18s this season, this was by far the toughest game and, in its way, also the best performance as Ash United produced a well-coached and high-energy performance that on another day could have brought victory for the home team.
When Kingstonian opened the scoring after just fifty seconds, you could have been forgiven for thinking that this match could have become one-sided, but, once they settled into the contest, Ash comprehensively shattered that foolish thought with a physical, full-court-press style of play that required to K's to play with discipline. For the most part, K's kept up with the disciplined play and that, coupled with lightning quick starts to each half, proved to be the not-so-secret secret to winning this enthralling contest.
Kingstonian got off to the fastest of starts before Ash could settle into the game with a lovely flowing team move - Iker Noguera Leon push a pass through to Quincy Patterson, who found Marco Haigh with his back to goal. Haigh held off his defender and slipped a short pass to the onrushing Noguera Leon, who sidestepped the Ash United goalkeeper and passed the ball into the empty net.
The home side soon played themselves into the game, gave Kingstonian no space to pass the ball around and were quick to attack when they seized possession for themselves, one such quick counter in the 10th minute seeing them hit the post from just outside the penalty area. The rest of the half was mostly made up of Kingstonian posession under pressure in their back line, the odd occasion when K's did find space and the odd occasion when Ash threatened to break through and were denied by disciplined K's defending.
The second half began in almost the same way as the first, with a Kingstonian goal. In the 47th minute, Noguera Leon burst down the right wing, crossed into the six yard box where a defender, the Ash goalkeeper and Marco Haigh all arrived at roughly the same time, finishing with the Kingstonian man getting the last touch in forcing the ball across the line.
Ash forced Kingstonian goalkeeper Josh Lohmeier into two excellent saves just before the hour mark and got due reward for his efforts from his forwards when K's scored their third. Substitute Deniz Ozer made a big impression on the game in the 60th minute when he stole possession just outside the penalty area, quickly threaded pass through to Noguera Leon, who beat the Ash goalkeeper with a quick snapshot for a fine, clinical goal.
The home side scored in the 71st minute, converting a rebound after Lohmeier made another good save, and suddenly it was game on again, with the old book of cliches coming out and saying that the next goal would be vital. The next goal never came, K's did come close in the 89th minute when Freddie Bailey's cross was headed goalwards by Deniz Ozer but was denied by a super save by the keeper.
In the end, it was a fine win for Kingstonian against a very good opposition - at the time of writing the draw for the First Qualifying Round had either not been made or it had been and this writer hasn't found it yet...
Next week sees two Under 18s matches - on Monday they visit Walton and Hersham at the Xcel Sports Centre for an Isthmian Youth League Central Division match and on Tuesday the Combined Counties League squad play their first game of the season when they visit Reading City for a West Division fixture.