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Manager's monthly report - January

Hayden Bird

Hayden Bird reports on a busy January.

Firstly, an apology for this month's report being late! Since the turn of the year, it's been absolutely non-stop with games, training, etc!

January was certainly an eventful month! As a team, we have played tremendous football, enjoying some excellent results. During this time, the squad has been severely tested with injuries and suspensions. Playing eight games in four weeks presents its own challenge, but doing so without key personnel has made life interesting! 

We opened the month on New Year's Day! Bishop's Stortford is never an easy ground to visit and how we were scheduled to visit Dunmow Road on New Year's Day totally bewilders me! Who on earth thought that was a good idea when arranging the fixtures? Nonetheless, we had a job to do and the players performed very well in a game that we should have won far more comfortably, Reece and Sean secured the points with two excellent strikes. It was a very good start to 2020! 

The term "a bad day at the office" is commonly used in football. As much as I hate cliches, Cheshunt away was exactly that; a bad day at the office. We knew Craig's team would be highly motivated, for obvious reasons. Cheshunt had a number of former players and there was no doubt Craig would want to beat his old employers.

In a completely uncharacteristic first half performance, we found ourselves 0-2 down and to make matters worse, playing with ten men. Although both goals were a little fortunate, Cheshunt certainly deserved their lead. In an act of frustration, Dan Bennett had been sent off and it looked as though we had a mountain to climb.  

The second half however, was a different story. Although we eventually lost 1-3, the ten men of Kingstonian were the dominant force. In my view, we were denied two blatant penalty kicks and had two further chances cleared off the line. The home keeper was in fine form and as a result, we were beaten for the first time in the League since 23rd October. No one likes to lose and as a group, I'm pleased to say we are not used to it. However, suffering from defeat is part of football. The successful teams deal with the setback and react accordingly. This was our opportunity to prove we have the characteristics to develop into a successful team.  

To compete in the last 32 of the FA Trophy is a credit to our players. I'm told it is the first time the Club have reached this stage in twenty years and the players deserve great applause for their achievements. In facing Leamington, we were aware of the task ahead of us. Added to that,we had more than a few players missing and suffered a further blow when Reece damaged his knee ligaments after twenty-five minutes.

In a really tight game, Kingstonian went toe to toe with the National North outfit and secured a replay thanks to a last gasp goal from Dan Hector. As we left the pitch, I was elated to be in the hat for the last sixteen but knew a very difficult game in the Midlands awaited us.

Although we eventually lost the replay 0-1, perhaps our disappointment on the night exemplifies the progress we are making. Without key players we competed and matched a team from a higher level and were disappointed to go home empty handed. Disappointed but very determined. Determined to ensure next year we make the last sixteen and a club the size of Kingstonian is not starved of cup success, waiting another twenty years. Once again, on an atrocious night of gales and torrential rain, the support we received was unbelievable. Our fans deserve success and we are desperate bring success to Kingstonian. The cup runs this season represent just the start of our journey together. Of that, I am certain.

The quality of football the team produced at East Thurrock made me immensely proud. Although we were denied by a last minute goal, the team were tremendous. Believe me when I say the quality of our performance that day is nothing to do with this level. To create so many chances in one game, away to very decent opposition is another mark of our continued development. In a thrilling 3-3 draw, the team showed amazing spirit to turn a 0-2 deficit into a 3-2 lead. To be denied 3pts by a late deflection was horrible. Despite the clear disappointment in the Dressing Room, I was very proud of my players. 

We travelled to Woking without seven established players. Clohessy, Cook, Hall, Bennett, Beaney, Hector and Dsane were all missing in a night we faced a very strong Woking team. 

I think it is fair to say the boys did everything they could on the night which so nearly entered the history books with a last minute Tolfrey equaliser! 

We were pleased to return to winning ways against promotion chasing Carshalton Athletic. In an excellent game between two teams awash with quality, Kingstonian thoroughly deserved their 3-1 victory. Goals from Dan, Gus and the skipper nailed our superiority with a 3-0 advantage. Again we missed chances in a really attacking game of football. We were disappointed not to keep a clean sheet, allowing the visitors a consolation goal in the last few minutes. However, the game was a terrific advert for Non League football. 

In the last game of the month we rued missed chances and were forced to settle for a draw. East Thurrock were the visitors and clearly decided to defend, frustrate and stifle us. This alone is compliment to our work and the progress we are making. East Thurrock are a team with promotion aspirations and left Tolworth elated with a point. Whilst some complimented the opponents game plan, I questioned if their game plan included clearances off the line, hitting the woodwork and Kingstonian missing ten great opportunities! Once more, the quality of our football was a joy to watch. Such a pity the players were not rewarded with the elusive goal, the lads so richly deserved. 

As a team, we now enter the defining period of the season. With so many games to play, we need your support more than ever. Although it is unrealistic to suggest we are going to win all of them, we need to take full advantage of our games in hand. Should we accomplish that and continue to improve, the team will finish in Kingstonian's highest league position since Alan Dowson left. How high will that be? Who knows? Let's continue to fight together and see where it takes us!

Thank you for your inspiring support.

Published Saturday 8th February 2020