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Kingstonian 0-1 Gravesend & Northfleet

Twas Dave Clarke out first - not Simon Stewart

The new-look Kingstonian side made its first foray back into the Ryman League on a day when many watching were expecting the hoops to announce their intentions to the rest of the sides. Unfortunately it all went slightly awry. No goals scored, one conceded, and proof - if it were needed - that some serious work still remains to be done on the training field.

Just three of the players on show had survived from the previous regime - Colin Luckett, Simon Stewart and Mark Boyce - and with suspensions and injuries aplenty, it was a slightly unusual eleven who started the game. Max Hustwick stepped up from the reserves to take the number two shirt, whilst Steve Brown and David Sadler were the two chosen to play up-front. Indeed it was Brown who had the first opportunity - heading a Danny Bolt cross over.

Gravesend reminded everybody early on that they weren't present just to make up the numbers when Paul Booth played in Jimmy Jackson on the left. The shot came in from just outside the box, and Lance Key did well to tip the effort over.

Get your head out the way - I can't see

Bolt had a chance for K's with a shot from the left, but Jamie Turner proved equal to the task by catching nonchalantly, but it was the visitors who had the best chance of the half. Rob Owen played a ball in behind Hustwick and Che Stadhart sprinted to collect. He had time to control the ball and set his sights, but he got his angles very slightly wrong, as his left-footed shot flew inches past Key's left-hand post.

The break came with no goals on the sheet, and it must have been the visitors who were the happiest. No doubt there were a few home-truths spoken in the Kingstonian dressing room, and the team came back out to play with renewed vigour. With just five minutes of the half gone Bolt played in Steve McKimm, whose right-footed shot from twelve yards looked destined for the bottom corner. Turner was having none of it though, and he produced a fine save low to his left, turning the ball aside in the process.

It's a man's game is football

Just five minutes later Gravesend really should have taken the lead. A ball was played in from the left, the home defence practiced their statue impressions, Stadhart fell to the ground yet still managed to get a flicked effort on target, but Hustwick proved his worth by hacking the ball clear from on the line.

The pressure was beginning to tell though, as Gravesend became more and more dominant in midfield. It was proving difficult for the red and white ones to string any sort of move together, and the defence was getting more desperate as the time went on. Key made his second important save of the match when Lee Spiller played in Stadhart on the right, who cut in to shoot. The striker's effort deflected off of Stewart making the save doubly impressive.

The introduction of Ronnie Green in place of Brown did little to alter the balance of play, and after 72 minutes the breakthrough finally came for Gravesend. Bolt needlessly gave the ball away, resulting in a right wing corner, Justin Skinner sent it to the far post, where rose Booth to head in. The lack of marking brought a chill to the spine, as endless goals from last season were recalled.

£1.50 - bargain

Luckett came close to restoring parity when a one-two with Green allowed him to turn superbly on the edge of the box, but unfortunately his shot just skimmed the top of the crossbar. The final effort of the day came from Sadler, but again his sights weren't quite aligned correctly, with the result that the ball spun over and wide.

And so the season started with a defeat. After all of the pre-season promise it was something of an unexpected one, but there is no reason to be depressed just yet. With eight new players on display - many of whom have had very little chance to get to know their team mates - it was always going to be difficult. Better days must still be ahead.

Sat 18th Aug 2001
Kingsmeadow Stadium
Isthmian League Premier
Gravesend & N1
1Lance Key
2Max HustwickCautioned
3Colin Luckett
4Peter Barnsby
5Simon Stewart
6Steve McKimm12
7Danny Bolt
8Dave Clarke
9Steve Brown14
10David Sadler
11Mark Boyce15
12Billy Mead6
14Ronnie Green9
15Liam Collins11
Man of the Match
Lance Key
Lance Key
Match Report By
Gary Ekins