We're on our way to Tonbridge!
Simon Grier gives us the low-down on our big game on Saturday against the Angels from Tonbridge.
When: Saturday 8 January 2019, 3pm kick-off
The town: Well-heeled commuter town in mid-Kent. The UK's first speeding fine was handed out by Tonbridge Petty Sessions court in 1896, the guilty driver a Mr Walter Arnold of East Peckham who was fined one shilling for speeding at 8 mph in a 2 mph zone.
The ground: Longmead Stadium, Darenth Avenue, TN10 3JF. A pleasant rarity in the Bostik League of having a decent, covered terrace at both ends of the ground making for a good atmosphere. With covered seating on both sides it is arguably the best ground in the league.
Directions: At least a half hour's walk from Tonbridge station, with frequent trains from Waterloo East taking around 40 minutes. The ground, opened in 1980, was a relatively early adopter of the trend since followed by many clubs of being built on the outskirts of town to replace an original ground on prime town centre land. In this case, the original Angel Stadium is now a shopping centre. By car it should take just over an hour from Kingston via the M25 and A25. Parking at the ground is plentiful.
Our record there: One of the precious few highlights of the 2016/17 season saw us win 1-0 at Tonbridge in the league and then go back ten days later to knock them out of the FA Trophy, Pico Gomez striking an equaliser before Joe Turner gave us the 2-1 win after a run from his own half. It was probably the high point of a season that then went quite rapidly downhill. Last season we lost 3-1 in a fairly meaningless game towards the end of a campaign that had already long since fizzled out.
Recent form: Tonbridge raced to the top of the table at the start of the season, with six wins and a draw from their opening seven games, conceding only one goal. They couldn't sustain this form though and have now won just once in the last two months, slipping to 11th in the league. They currently sit bottom of the ten game form guide but two late goals in their last game to rescue a point against Brightlingsea will have given them a confidence boost, and Tonbridge is never an easy place to go.
Players to watch: Turner is now a Tonbridge player and Ks fans well know what he's capable of with strong running down the wings and a goalscoring threat when he cuts inside - he's scored seven from midfield already this season. Left-back Jack Parter and midfielder Tom Beere are both ex-Ks as well, while top scorer Alex Read was recruited over the summer from Harlow, for whom he once bagged 52 in a season.
Crowd: Normally around 500 and they often make good noise behind the goal, helped by the covered terraces at either end.
Drinking: Plenty of choice on the High Street, which runs into Shipbourne Lane as you head towards the ground with many pubs along the way. The first you will come to is the Humphrey Bean, a large Wetherspoons. Next is Ye Olde Chequers, a traditional pub in a historic building which is opposite the Gatehouse, a recent refit offering good beer, live sport and cheap food. Fuggles Beer Cafe is also quite new and very much catering to the craft market. Next is the George and Dragon, which is popular with Tonbridge fans and also shows big screen football and the final pub before you turn off the main road towards the ground is The Royal Oak, another fairly traditional place.
Food: The hearty burgers in the ground have a reputation as among the best in the league. There are plenty of other options in town on the long drag up from the station including The Old Fire Station on Castle Street, which often hosts pop-ups.