Grier's Guide to the 2012-13 Season
Simon Grier continues his lockdown lookback at seasons past with the 2012-13 season, where Ks played some good football but fell frustratingly short of the playoffs.
After a poor previous season, Alan Dowson once again made significant changes to his squad over the summer. The most exciting new arrivals were up front, the pacey Andre McCollin and Football League veteran Wade Small replacing club legend Bobby Traynor. With Dean Lodge and Matt Pattison providing creativity in midfield, Ks promised to be an exciting prospect going forward.
The season began with a controversial draw away to East Thurrock that left Ks fans fuming at the referee. After the Essex side had cancelled out a fine Lodge strike, Small’s late winner was disallowed…because he was fouled. The decision was ridiculous even by the low standards of Ryman refereeing, while McCollin’s debut proved inauspicious when he was sent off after an altercation with East Thurrock’s Steve Sheehan.
The new look attack was soon firing though. Small, McCollin and Lodge were rampant as Ks blew Harrow apart 4-2, although they could only draw 3-3 with Margate, evoking painful memories of the catastrophic finish to the 2010-11 season. They followed up with a 3-0 win at Concord, a 3-1 victory at home to Leiston and then Craig Mullen starred in a 3-0 win over Guildford City in the FA Cup. Ks had scored at least three in five consecutive games, a remarkable run, and sat unbeaten near the top of the table.
It was not to last though and the dismissal of Byron Napper led to a 1-0 defeat at Bury before a dreadful performance saw East Thurrock come to Kingsmeadow and end Ks’ FA Cup hopes for another year. The 3-2 scoreline flattered Ks and only a dramatic late brace from Small prevented an FA Trophy exit to Ryman 1 South strugglers Eastbourne Town the following week.
Nonetheless a 3-1 win over Lewes saw Ks go top of the league and two days later they raced into a 2-0 lead at Wealdstone. That was as good as it got though, as the Richard Jolly-inspired home side rallied to win 5-2 and dent Ks’ confidence.
Staying in contention
League form became far patchier as although Ks remained an impressive force in attack their defence was continually leaking. The sublime – a 3-1 win at Lowestoft featuring a superb Pattison volley from outside the box – was mixed with the ridiculous, in the form of a 4-0 stuffing at lowly Thurrock.
Wins over Burnham and, in a replay, Brentwood Town saw Ks into the first round proper of the FA Trophy and a big game at home to Conference National side Dartford. It ended in a chastening 4-0 defeat though after Simon Huckle was sent off for a two-footed lunge.
Ks lost 4-3 on Canvey Island and despite three more wins, ex-K Sam Clayton was at the heart of a 4-1 mauling by Met Police on Boxing Day.
A fine defensive performance with ten men led to a 2-0 win over Wealdstone though and Ks remained right in contention. The returns of Paul Vines and Ian Gayle further boosted the squad and Ks’ confidence peaked with a barely believable 9-3 win at home to the hapless Cray Wanderers. The midfield were rampant in their scoring with a hat-trick for Lewis Taylor, two for Pattison and two for Nathan Koranteng. Vines and McCollin added the others.
Rather than prove a springboard though it would be Ks’ last league win for the next seven games. What felt like a horrendous injustice seemed to fuel the collapse; some weeks previously Ks had led 2-0 at Whitehawk when the floodlights failed with just 12 minutes left on the clock. The Ryman League ordered a replay, which Ks almost inevitably lost to the league leaders, the first of five straight defeats. Vines grabbed a late winner at Lewes but two further defeats followed and Ks’ hopes were completely extinguished. The season limped to a finish amongst horrendous fixture congestion, Ks finishing 11th for the second year in a row.
The fixture congestion was partly caused by bad weather but also by, for the second consecutive season, a run to the London Senior Cup final. The campaign did not even begin until March but wins over Hanwell Town and Dulwich Hamlet set up a tense semi-final against Cray which Ks won 3-2.
Once again the final was at Imber Court, with Conference South Bromley this year’s opponents. Much like the previous year though, Ks were outplayed by a better side and went 2-0 down, a late consolation goal from youngster Jamil Okai proving too little, too late as Ks failed in another big game. The side had shown much promise but again it was an empty-handed season, and again Dowson would have to try again to find the magic formula the following summer.