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Kingstonian 3-1 Bishop's Stortford

With expectations running high at Kingsmeadow, Bishop's Stortford were the visitors on a fine yet chilly October afternoon. With a steady return to the Premier Division, Stortford have struggled to put matches away since their sole win on their travels at Canvey Island in the first week of the season. After another away draw, Kingstonian sought to maximise on their outstanding home form, bolstered by the new signing of former Manchester United striker Graeme Tomlinson.

The game started in earnest for the strikers; with Tim Sills foiled by centre back Ray Taylor as he ran through the middle. At the opposite end, Trevor Paul miscontrolled the ball in what would have otherwise been a promising position. Phil Wingfield shot wide and Sills headed over, but these were all just the warm-up for the serious stuff.

Liam Collins created a crossing opportunity for himself on the right and whipped in an inviting ball, met powerfully by Graeme Tomlinson only for visiting 'keeper Micky Desborough to deny the striker a debut goal with an excellent flying save. On the quarter hour mark, Rob French sent in a low effort across the face of Lance Key's goal, which looked a routine save for the custodian only for the ball to rebound back out for Trevor Paul to help himself to the opening goal of the game.

The goal almost took the sides by surprise as the game slowed for a period before K's seized the initiative. Wingfield took a long ball on his chest, getting past his man, before taking a shot at the near post, which Desborough gathered. The 'keeper was fortunate moments later when his clearance just eluded the figure of Sills. The frontman was denied by Chris Dorian's last-ditch interception as he was preparing to strike and Collins almost released a shot after forging forward in a more central position.

The equalising goal came just after the half-hour mark; Wingfield battling to regain the ball in midfield and able to feed Tomlinson down the left. Able to get the run on his marker, the striker slid the ball across the box for Dave Clarke to beat Desborough, doing so with style by neatly rounding the 'keeper before slotting the ball into the back of the net.

Around and in...

An immediate response almost followed as French, enjoying a good game, was found in the box by Glen Southam and took a shot on Key from close in. However, he found the league representative 'keeper in more usual form as he made himself big and sent the ball wide of the target with a fine stop. Key followed this up with another good save, diving to his left, in the very next move.

Stortford captain Al-James Hannigan was almost punished after a ball over the top bounced off him and nicely into the path of Tim Sills on the edge of the area. A couple of strides further in and Sills had a good chance ahead of him but could only drag his shot wide of the far post (below). Fouled just outside the box a few minutes later, the free kick was hit well by Tomlinson who was denied by a good stop by Desborough.

Gone wide

Moving into the second half and the pattern of the first was almost replicated. Southam fired wide of the target when presented with an opening, as did Sills up at the other end of the field. Tomlinson, having started in a more withdrawn role with Pinnock, was pushed forwards into a more advanced position, and both players continued to have a positive influence on K's attacking game.

With about ten minutes gone in the half, Phil Wingfield was once more the provider. This time it was inside the fringes of the area where he did the damage, squeezing past the attention of a pair of defenders before sending a low ball across the face of goal. Desborough got a touch but was unable to prevent the ball from reaching Dave Clarke who, after momentarily readjusting, tapped in for another close range goal to continue his goalscoring exploits of this season.

Southam embarked upon a dangerous run from deep in midfield that saw him evade a handful of K's players, but unable to get his shot in to trouble Key at the end of it. A moment of light entertainment followed when Desborough came out to the boundaries of his area to dispose of the ball in a presumably orthodox manner, but managing to fall over and head away on his way down instead. Tim Sills had a light moment of a different type when he lifted the ball over the crossbar from close range when he seemed almost certain to convert Clarke's cross.

With the game poised for a tense final twenty minutes or so, a long-ish Mark Jones throw-in took a flick off the leaping Hannigan en-route to coming perfectly for James Pinnock to flick a header past Desborough and inside his left hand post for another goal.

It's in!

Hyatt's set pieces and French's presence meant that the K's defence had to hold strong, and with some good defending (and the odd bit of scrambling), hold strong they did. Without the injured Barnsby and Flitter, the defence is still one of the tightest going in the Premier, and when they pull together as they did today that is not too much of a surprise. Wingfield was there when it came to the crunch, but the man of the moment must certainly be Dave Clarke. He's just everywhere.

Sat 19th Oct 2002
Kingsmeadow Stadium
Isthmian League Premier
Clarke (2), Pinnock
Bishop's Stortford1
1Lance Key
2Max Hustwick
3Mark Jones
4James Pinnock
5Sean Thurgood
6Julian Sills
7Liam Collins15
8Dave Clarke
9Tim Sills
10Graeme Tomlinson
11Phil Wingfield
12Bashiru Alimi
13Matt Sargeant
14Neil Lampton
15Craig Lewington7
16Jamie Leacock
Man of the Match
Dave Clarke
Dave Clarke
Match Report By
Ali Kazemi