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Braintree Town 1-2 Kingstonian

A long journey to Essex was the order of the evening as K's travelled to Cressing Road seeking to improve upon their only other trip there - last season's single goal defeat. Braintree however are not enjoying the same form that saw them finish their first season in the Premier division in 4th place, whilst Kingstonian's unbeaten start to the season inspires confidence for players and supporters alike.

With Lance Key failing to make the game due to a bad back, Adrian Jones was given the opportunity to consign his only other competitive start - the away defeat at Croydon last season - to the history books. With a settled back three, Jamie Leacock and Bashiru Alimi were deployed in the wing-back positions, whilst Neil Lampton was given his first start alongside Dave Clarke and Craig Lewington in central midfield. Tim Sills returned to the starting line-up following his knock at Hitchin.

Bash Alimi, in his unaccustomed wide-left position linked up well with Greg Ball to provide Dave Clarke with the first clear striking opportunity of the game in the opening minutes, though the on-form midfielder was unable to direct his shot on target. This early opportunity was followed by little action throughout the majority of the half as a game of cat and mouse developed, with K's assuming the role of the cat. Both goalkeepers were largely untested, though the visitors were building momentum through the midfield, and the set pieces were building as Braintree adopted a safety-first approach.

With the half drawing to close, Jamie Leacock forayed down the right and released a dangerous cross that was well stopped by the Irons' Andy Potter. From the ensuing corner Greg Ball unintentionally got in the way of a header and managed to turn to strike on target only for home 'keeper Paul Cutley to parry. Strike partner Tim Sills was lurking for the rebound but found himself unable to get his strike in as the defenders flew in to block the ball away. Almost immediately Braintree moved forwards and captain Gavin Cowan saw his angled header shave the stanction as it flew over.

The game suddenly hitting overdrive as stoppage time approached, Craig Lewington picked the ball up in midfield and charged his way through all-comers before releasing a pass to Greg Ball on the right edge of the penalty box. Despite the angle, the tireless striker managed to slot the ball neatly past Cutley and into the far bottom corner of the net to open the scoring. Great celebration that was soon soured as Ball suffered a nasty looking knee injury as he tussled with a pair of Braintree defenders.

With Ball stretchered off on the stroke of half time, Mark Jones was surprisingly the substitute introduced, with Neil Lampton moving up front for the second period. Braintree were the quicker out of the blocks as they sought to test Jones in the K's goal, but experienced difficulties in finding their range when it came to shooting. Jamie Leacock continued to provide a good outlet on the right for K's, and won another corner, from which Tim Sills saw his powerful header tipped over the bar well by Cutley.

Without Ball leading the charge, Sills was left to make life harder for the goalkeeper, and succeeded in doing so when he got a touch on a clearance by Cutley's, deflecting the ball short and opening an attacking opportunity. As Cutley and defence recovered, Lampton took the strike on goal, but not for the first time saw his effort bounce just wide of the target. With the midfield already contributing well to goalscoring this season, Craig Lewington tried his chances with a long-range effort, though unfortunately for the midfield battler Cutley was well positioned behind it all the way.

'Go through him' says the amiable goalkeeper

Shaun Thurgood's abilities clearly go further than the big clearance, for the young defender showed a moment of outstanding composure as he dealt with a long ball, though the Braintree attacking momentum was by now starting to build. Gavin Cowan once more headed hight and over from a corner, and Adrian Jones was called upon to save well down low at his near post.

Minutes later, and with just ten of them left on the clock, came the breakthrough for the home side. Substitute Ollie Berquez saw his effort saved by Jones, though striker Neil Cousins was on hand to fire in the rebound in the crowd as Braintree equalised. The momentum well and truly shifted, Braintree now looked the likelier side to snatch a winning goal, and the corners came thick and fast.

K's managed their own attack in the final minutes as Tim Sills fed substitute Liam Collins with the ball on the right. Collins' drove towards the edge of the box before crossing presumably to fellow sub Ronnie Green in the middle. Sandwiched by defenders, Green was clearly bundled over, but as the shouts for penalty were being aired, Bash Alimi took the ball down at the far post, moved it inside and then fired the ball through goalkeeper and defender to regain the lead for his side. Wild celebrations followed, and K's managed to hold on for their first away win of this league campaign.

Wild celebrations

Tue 1st Oct 2002
Cressing Road
Isthmian League Premier
Braintree Town1
Ball, Alimi
1Adrian Jones
2Jamie Leacock15
3Sean Thurgood
4Craig Lewington
5Matt Flitter
6Julian Sills
7Neil Lampton16
8Dave Clarke
9Tim Sills
10Greg Ball12
11Bashiru Alimi
12Mark Jones10
13Matt Sargeant
14James Pinnock
15Liam Collins2
16Ronnie Green7
Man of the Match
Mark Jones
Mark Jones
Match Report By
Ali Kazemi