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Kingstonian 3-4 Hendon
Four A Win

For the second time in as many games, Kingstonian held a two goal lead well into the second half. Also for the second time in as many games, they lost. Having recovered from conceding an early goal to lead 3-1, K's collapsed to suffer a 4-3 defeat against Tony Choules' Hendon outfit, writes Simon Grier.

New signing Steven Sanders came in at right back with Ahmet Rifat moving to left back to cover the injured Bash Alimi, while Martyn Williams took the place of Phil Ruggles, dropped to the bench. The Hendon side included a number of ex-Northwood players who followed Choules across North London in the summer, including influential playmaker and captain Mark Nicholls. With both Hendon and Northwood doing the double over K's last season it was always going to be a tough game, and this was not helped by the heavy rain or the strong wind.

The home side started brightly with Mazin Ahmad skinning Nicholls to set up Scott Steele on the edge of the area. Unfortunately for K's the player-boss took slightly too long to shoot, allowing Rene Street to half-block the effort which gave Dave King an easy save.

Then in just the eight minute it was the visitors who took the lead. Mark Burgess' throughball found Mark Frendo free behind the defence. Barry Marchena got down well to block Frendo's shot, but the follow-up was swiftly returned to the Hendon striker and he casually rolled the ball home.

Kingstonian replied in a positive fashion though. A good run by Giles Coke found Mazin Ahmad on the right flank, and his cross narrowly failed to connect with a K's head. A minute later James Rose came even closer to getting on the end of a Rifat cross. On thirteen minutes Ahmad's cross teed up Giles Coke just inside the Hendon box. Coke shot well, but the ball was at a comfortable height for King and he was able to parry the ball to safety.

K's kept up the pressure as a fantastic run from Ahmad, who was continually bamboozling the Hendon defence with his dribbling ability, saw him cut in from the right to play Steele in on goal. King rushed out to meet him and made a good block for a corner, but Kingstonian were looking increasingly dangerous.

They could not afford to relax though, as a minute later Frendo came close for the visitors, although it transpired that he was offside anyway. K's went up the other end and a surging run from Giles Coke was stopped when he was tripped from behind by Richard McDonagh. The referee played a somewhat dubious advantage, but the ball was nonetheless scrambled out to Rifat wide on the left. King, a long way out of his goal, dropped Rifat's cross at the feet of Coke and was somewhat lucky to block the midfielder's shot. Steele was incensed at the referee's decision not to award K's a free kick for the original trip, and found himself in the book for dissent.

The player-boss responded two minutes later by bursting into the right-hand side of the box. Wayne Carter did well to block his shot and the subsequent follow-up, but Steele calmly found Williams in space. The striker got underneath his shot though and sent it disappointingly over the crossbar from close range.

Ahmad continued to menace the Greens and in the twentieth minute another superb run freed him to shoot from twenty yards, though King saved easily. Three minutes later K's almost fell two behind when Marchena failed to deal with a backpass and was tackled by Frendo. The ball fell to Ofori, but he spooned it ridiculously high in the air, and upon it eventually re-entering the atmosphere Rifat was able to clear.

On 27 minutes King was again tested, this by an Ahmad free kick which bounced awkwardly in front of him. Considering how wet the ball was by this point, the visiting stopper did well to get down and hold on to the ball with Rose loitering for a sniff of a follow-up.

Two minutes later after a fair degree of pressure the home side equalised. A superb run from Martyn Lee created enough room for him to cross from the left, and Williams got in front of Street at the near post to head past King and level the scores.

Having worked so hard to wipe out Hendon's lead, K's almost allowed them to recapture it straight away. Eugene Ofori broke through down the right and shot high across Marchena's goal. The K's keeper got both hands to it, yet it squirmed away before the former Brentford player pounced on it to alleviate the danger.

Three minutes later Marchena was called into action again, once more denying Ofori this time with a good low save. The ball quickly went up the other end, but Steele's chip comfortably cleared King's crossbar. A minute later Coke burst forward again. With Ahmad in space on the right and Steele free on the left everyone, the Hendon defence included, pondered which way he would pass. Instead the midfielder kept going, found space for his own shot, and only narrowly missed King's right-hand goalpost with a vicious low shot.

Coke was again the instigator on 37 minutes as chaos descended on King's penalty area. Coke played a clever one-two with Williams and shot from the edge of the box. Carter blocked his effort, but Steele picked up the loose ball and found Lee. The former Maidenhead player shot with incredible power straight at King, who could only push it out into the gaggle of players around the penalty spot from which it was eventually hacked away.

Two minutes later Lee was once more menacing the side from Claremont Road, as a splendid 25 yard drive forced King to fly to his left in order to tip the ball over for a corner. Steele took the kick, which King and K's captain Richard Taylor both attacked. Both missed it however, and Rose was left unmarked to nod the ball between the two men on the posts and put Kingstonian 2-1 up. Remarkably, it was the first time in some twenty months that K's were in the lead of a game they had fallen behind in, and the home side went into the break in buoyant mood.

Three minutes after the interval K's ended another statistical nightmare by scoring three goals in a league game for the first time in 2004. Rose cut inside after good work on the left and teed up Lee. His shot appeared to be blocked by a defender's hand, but it didn't matter as he ran through onto the loose ball and slotted it calmly under King to put K's three-one to the good.

Two minutes later K's almost scored a fourth as Williams headed wide from an Ahmad cross. K's seemed well in control of the game, but then suddenly Hendon pulled one back. Frendo was set free in the penalty area unmarked, and he had far too much time to pick his spot and beat Marchena.

K's initial response was once again positive, and again Ahmad was at the heart of the danger. His deep cross was just reached by a full-stretch Steele at the far post. The ball rolled past King who was off-balance and out of position, but McDonagh slid in to clear the ball off the line, albeit with a suspicion of handball. Two minutes later Ahmad again menaced from the right, and Street only just beat Williams to the near post cross, putting it out for a corner worryingly close to his own post.

Ahmad took the resulting corner which Marien Ifura got a head to, but King had a touch as well and it went for a second corner which was wasted. Then on 61 minutes Williams was booked for nasty tackle that left Street down for some five minutes, and not unwisely, Steele replaced him with Ruggles.

Not long after the game eventually restarted, it was once more level. Daniel Julienne sent Frendo in behind Rifat, and he crossed low to an unmarked Nicholls who squared the game from close range. Having been in such control of the game, Kingstonian did not know how they had managed to squander their lead.

Two minutes later things almost got worse; Carter's lobbed through ball sent Ofori in on the right-hand side of the box. He lobbed Marchena and only some great athleticism from Ifura to clear off the line kept the sides level. In the 74th minute it became irrelevant though. Nicholls played Ofori through on goal, and despite the best efforts of Sanders to professionally foul him, he stayed on his feet and slotted past Marchena to give Hendon a lead which just twenty-one minutes earlier would have seemed most unlikely (to those not present at Staines last week, anyway.)

Jon Coke replaced Sanders and debutant Ahmed Tchankou came on for the Manager, but K's looked quite understandably dispirited and were never going to get back into the game. In fact, it was Hendon who looked more like stretching their lead. Just before his departure Steele cleared a Street header off the line, and Frendo should have had a hat-trick but Marchena stayed on his feet well to deny him in a one-on-one situation.

Referee Kevin Haines blew the whistle after just two minutes of stoppage time, which was ridiculous given how long Street was down following Williams' booking, although in all probability academic in terms of K's fashioning an equaliser.

From a fans' point of view it was definitely a bitter-sweet performance. There is much to take heart from this game: K's scored three goals for starters, and did so playing some wonderful attacking football the likes of which have not been seen for far too long. The game was obviously very exciting and the football was a refreshing change from the 0-0s and 0-1s that characterised last season and the early part of this season.

Martyn Lee turned in a superb performance and was a genuine creative outlet. Giles Coke was once again excellent in midfield, James Rose looks to have great goal-poaching ability, Martyn Williams had his best game for ages and Phil Ruggles is still at K's and looking impressive despite midweek rumours to the contrary. Mazin Ahmad was particularly dangerous, and with longer hair, bigger teeth and a goal from a miss-hit cross might well have been mistaken for Ronaldinho the way his runs cut the Hendon defence apart.

However, there is no denying that K's defending was poor. As a unit the defence is very inexperienced, and surely needs an older head to organise things. They weren't helped today by a very attacking midfield line, none of whom picked up Nicholls, playing in the 'hole' for Hendon. This defeat following on from that at Staines will be a major blow to the confidence and morale of the young team. There is the potential for this team to be one of the best in the Ryman League; now it is up to Scott Steele to find a way of shoring up the defence and giving the players the self-belief to close a game off when two goals up, not to throw it away.

Sat 23rd Oct 2004
Kingsmeadow Stadium
Isthmian League Premier
Williams, Rose, Lee
1Barry Marchena
2Marien Ifura
3Steven Sanders12
4Richard Taylor
5Ahmet Rifat
6Giles Coke
7James Rose
8Mazin Ahmad
9Martyn WilliamsCautioned15
10Martyn Lee
11Scott SteeleCautioned16
12Jonathan Coke3
14Daniel Collyer
15Phil Ruggles9
16Ahmed Tchankou11
17Frazer Muscat
Match Report By
Simon Grier