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Eastleigh 6-3 Kingstonian

A bizarre game of football at Eastleigh's Sparshatts Stadium saw Kingstonian defeated by six goals to three. After some amateurish defending saw K's go four-nil down inside twenty minutes, the Surrey side rallied to reduce the deficit to four-three by the thirty-fifth minute. An Eastleigh penalty just before half time killed Kingstonian's momentum though, and the home team scored again in the second half to add a more convincing air to the result.

Once again manager Scott Steele rotated his team, bringing himself and Martyn Lee back into the side alongside new faces Ricky Allaway and Kenny Ojukwa. Mazin Ahmad, Danny Collyer and James Rose were all dropped to the bench, while captain Richard Taylor sat out with a back injury giving Ahmet Rifat the armband for the second time this season.

It took just two minutes for Eastleigh to threaten K's, as Christer Warren's cross forced Mark Zawadski to come off his line and push the ball away. Lee, the latest man to fill in at left wing-back for Kingstonian cleared the ball but within two minutes K's were behind.

Andy Forbes, signed over the summer from Winchester City with whom he had a remarkably prolific Wessex League goalscoring record, passed to Paul Sales. His first time ball split the visiting defence wide open allowing Forbes to break free in the box and place the ball into Zawadski's goal from close range, albeit with a suspicion of offside.

Forbes came close to a second five minutes later, latching onto Adam James' long ball on the right hand side of the penalty area. Fortunately for the men in hoops he fired wide across goal. Eastleigh remained in full command of the game though. Ryan Ashford's cross was headed out by Steven Sanders only as far as Tyrone Bowers, who came close with an overhead kick.

Eastleigh's second goal came on fifteen minutes and was reminiscent of the strike which eliminated England from the last World Cup. Ryan Ashford's inswinging free kick from 35 yards out near the right touchline curled straight into the net over the head of Zawadski.

To gift the opposition a goal is unfortunate but to gift them two is careless, and that is exactly what Kingstonian did in the eighteenth minute when the Hampshire side went three goals ahead. A poor through-ball angled across the penalty box should not have threatened K's, but a breakdown of communication between Rifat and Zawadski proved disastrous. While Zawadski moved along his goal line presumably to shepherd the ball out for a goal kick, Rifat knocked it back towards him with the inevitable consequence that the ball ended up in the far corner of the Kingstonian net.

A minute later it was four-nil, although Eastleigh could at least take some credit for this strike. A sublime chip by Ashford picked out Forbes inside the penalty area, and he controlled the ball neatly before firing home. Just as the spectators were considering the possibility of a cricket score though, the comedy of defensive errors resurfaced at the other end. A back-header fell well short of goalkeeper Wayne Shaw, and the tireless Phil Ruggles sprinted in to smash the ball home from close range.

Martin Beck headed wide for Eastleigh on the half-hour mark, and then three minutes later another scrappy goal put Kingstonian right back into the contest. Steele's over-hit cross was cleared off the line by Ashford, but he could get little power behind his header and it sat up nicely for Rifat to crash home on the volley from eight yards out.

Kingstonian's third came two minutes later and was probably the pick of the evening's nine goals. An excellent cross-field ball from Lee found Sanders in space on the right and he teed up Giles Coke in the penalty area. The talented youngster appeared to take a touch too many before shooting, but he turned splendidly and on his left foot smashed the ball past Shaw from the edge of the penalty box.

The fired-up visitors looked the better side over the next few minutes, but just before half time they conceded the momentum back to Eastleigh. First James split the defence open with an excellent through-ball and Sanders did well to block Sales' shot for a corner. Then deep into stoppage time Forbes broke free on the left side of the penalty area. Rifat aggressively shoulder-barged him to the floor and the referee pointed to the spot. Ashford stepped up and rolled his penalty down the middle of the goal past the diving Zawadski, putting Eastleigh five-three ahead. The goal was a massive blow to K's, who went into the break with their heads down after doing brilliantly to get back into the game.

New signing Ojukwa was replaced by Rose at half time, but the second half did not live up to the entertainment of the first and Kingstonian rarely troubled Shaw in the Eastleigh goal. Five minutes after the break K's almost handed their opponents another goal. Zawadski was forced to pick up a Coke backpass which sold him short, presenting Eastleigh with an indirect free kick deep inside the penalty area. Luckily for K's it was smashed into the ten-man wall though and the visitors were let off.

Beck came close from long range after linking up well with Warren on the left, and then Bowers sent a free kick narrowly wide after being brought down by Lee. On 65 minutes a rare Kingstonian attack was foiled by Shaw, coming off his line to catch a Steele cross before Ruggles could get his head to it.

Eastleigh sealed the game two minutes later. Warren's low cross was turned out for a corner by Rifat, but Chris Collins rose in front of Zawadski at the set piece to head home from about six yards out. A minute later things got even worse for K's when Sanders was booked for a late tackle; this came not long after a previous booking for dissent so the defender, who had had a good game up until that point, was dismissed.

Bowers came close from twenty yards, and then Steele used his two remaining substitutes. The manager replaced himself with Mazin Ahmad and replaced Zawadski with young goalkeeper Alan Hughes. Zawadski was not happy at being withdrawn, angrily hurling his gloves up at the grandstand wall in a display that did Kingstonian little credit.

Eastleigh might have been reduced to ten men themselves on 73 minutes after a tangle between Coke and Rob Marshall. Coke pulled Marshall to the ground in a challenge, but the Eastleigh centre-half seemed to retaliate before the referee could break up the fracas. The man in the middle let both players off with a warning though, and the game continued. Coke appeared not to heed the warning however, going in late on Collins three minutes later, picking up his fifth booking of the season and another one game ban to go with the one he earned at the weekend for a sending-off.

Forbes might have had a hat-trick but Hughes dashed off his line to deny him a shooting chance after a deflected shot had put him in on goal. The youngster made an even better save three minutes later, tipping a Sam Wyeth shot wide at full strength. Four minutes from time a Coke header came close for K's following an Ahmad free kick, but the game ended with a whimper as K's were effectively relegated to nine men, an injured Dave Timothy hobbling bravely but fruitlessly around the centre circle for the last few minutes.

The first twenty minutes have to go down as among the worst in the recent on-field history of the club. What was remarkable was that Kingstonian got back in the game after this debacle, and were it not for the penalty just before the break the second half might have been a different affair. Missing the captain did not help, but Kingstonian's goalkeeping and defending simply has to improve if they are to reach the increasingly distant haven of a place outside the relegation zone.

Phil Ruggles came out of the game with massive credit, chasing every ball and putting the opposition under constant pressure as well as poaching a vital goal. Giles Coke also looked impressive, but he has to learn to control his competitive edge - he now misses the vital games against Chelmsford City and Leyton, and Kingstonian cannot afford to be without his quality in the middle of the park. Kingstonian also have a desperate need to find a left-back - Martyn Lee's creativity was wasted in the role today.

A trawl through the archives shows that this was the highest scoring Kingstonian game since just shy of a decade ago, when Phil Wingfield, Eddie Akuamoah and Jamie Ndah scored in an 8-3 defeat at St. Albans. Right now though, K's fans would gladly sacrifice entertainment for points in the battle to stay in the Ryman Premier.

Wed 24th Nov 2004
Sparshatts Stadium
Isthmian League Premier
Ruggles, Coke G, Rifat
1Mark Zawadski17
2Steven SandersCautioned and Sent Off
3Martyn LeeCautioned
4Ricky Allaway
5Ahmet RifatCautioned
6Giles CokeCautioned
7Dave Timothy
8Bashiru Alimi
9Phil Ruggles
10Kenny Ojukwa15
11Scott SteeleCautioned16
12Daniel Collyer
14Jonathan Coke
15James Rose10
16Mazin Ahmad11
17Alan Hughes1
Match Report By
Simon Grier