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Manager's Report for November 2019

Hayden Bird

Kingstonian manager Hayden Bird reviews an average ordinary every day ho-hum month.

Well, what a month!

In a really busy period, the team enjoyed the following record:

Played 7, Won 5, Drew 1, Lost 1, Scored 14, Conceded 4.

Our only defeat was to a full-time club from the National League. Equally, our most significant victory went on record as the best result from a Non-League team away against a professional club since 1973!

In addition to winning new friends, the team won the Performance of the Month, Rob won the Golden Gloves, while I was fortunate enough to be awarded with the Manager of the Month.

All in all, November wasn't too bad!

We started the month winning 2-0 away to Brightlingsea Regent. This game was included in my previous report but I can still recall the immense character of the team in terrible conditions! It was a pleasing start to November and prepared the team perfectly for the challenges ahead.

The next stop was a game that will live very long in the memory; Macclesfield Town!

For Kingstonian to reach the First Round of the FA Cup is a fantastic achievement. It's the first time we have reached this stage of the competition in twenty years, and the players performed tremendously.

What a day! The supporters were amazing, the directors were emotional and the players were fantastic! It was truly a day we will never forget. A brace from Louie, along with goals from Dan Hector and Dan Bennett ensured a 4-0 victory against a League opponent.

Saturday 10th November was the proudest moment of my career and I was privileged to share it with Kingstonian Football Club. Seeing our club on Match of the Day was the icing on the cake, although even now I do not think the players received the credit they deserved. After the game, in defence of Macclesfield, Dion Dublin stated we "had beaten the kids." Although it was true that this was not Macclesfield's strongest team, let's remember that they started the game with six senior professionals. To add perspective to just how impressive the result was, Simon Cooper (an electrician by trade) marked the Nottingham Forest centre forward. That, Dion, says it all!

Only three days later, we were on our travels again to Blackfield and Langley. The FA Trophy is synonymous with Kingstonian, being landmarked in our history. As a team, we want to make history of our own and, therefore, entered the game with a big motivation to win.

Naturally, some players felt fatigued after the weekend, so Dan Thompson, Jerry Puemo, Harry Osborne, Gus Sow and Youssef Bamba started the game. In a thoroughly comprehensive victory, the team were excellent.

To make so many changes and play at such an outstanding level is indicative of the work and progress of these players. A brace from Tom Kavanagh and a late strike from Louie ensured that the coach travelled back to Kingston very happy. Again.

It was back to business in the league the following weekend. We knew that Lewes would be a young and vibrant opponent, but we naturally entered the game full of confidence. Despite going a goal behind early in the game, the team passed the ball impressively to recover and win the game 3-1. Kavs and Louie scored again, as did Dan Hector, who has played a pivotal role in the team's progression.

To draw 0-0 with Enfield Town was frustrating. However, the performance once again was very good indeed. The team controlled the game throughout against a promotion rival and deserved to win. Not for the first time this season, the visiting goalkeeper won the accolades with a number of excellent saves. At the other end, Rob was largely a spectator, as his defence nullified the threat of Bricknell and Faal. We were disappointed not to win all three points but as the manager, I was pleased with the players, who performed very well.

With rotation in mind, we entertained AFC Sudbury with a new shape of 4-4-2 and numerous team changes. While some asked why and others raised eyebrows, few were concerned; the team had already shown our strength in depth at Blackfield and Langley. Once again, despite the changes in personnel, the team performed to an outstanding level with the ball. Calum opened the scoring to equalise Sudbury's only attempt on goal, with Benno grabbing the winner at the perfect moment. In leaving it late, I was delighted with how the players remained calm and maintained our footballing principles when under pressure. Another tick in the box!

Saturday 30th November was my proudest moment for...well around three weeks! Seriously though, what a day to be associated with this great football club. Football Focus, Match of the Day, BT Sport and the National Press were all in attendance. As were 1,460 supporters and the FA Cup! This was the day the sleeping giant awakened and Kingstonian was back in the front line of Non-League football.

Although AFC Fylde eventually won the tie, our players stood toe-to-toe with a National League team who are full time. We dominated the ball with 57% possession, created three or four really good chances and were only defeated by a deflection and a lucky second goal on the brink of half time.

I am so proud of the team and what the lads have achieved in such a short space of time. However, this is not the time to look back, this is the time to look forward. This is only the start of the Kingstonian revival and, as a Management Team, as a Dressing Room and as a Club, we are determined to ensure days like Saturday 30th November are normal for a club of this stature.

Everyone hopes that this is just the start for us. I don't hope it is, I know it.

Published Friday 6th December 2019