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Wealdstone 4-5 Kingstonian
On The Edge

Recently, Kingstonian have been involved in numerous high-scoring thrillers - this 5-4 Ryman League win at Wealdstone, however, topped anything else seen by K's fans this year in terms of entertainment, as the team came from behind no less than three times to record a remarkable victory over their in-form opponents.

With league leaders Yeading the only side to have beaten Wealdstone in the league since 25th September, K's were expecting a tough encounter. Scott Steele changed his formation once more, employing David Timothy in the unlikely role of sweeper, Danny Collyer and Bashiru Alimi as wing-backs and bringing Steven Sanders into the midfield to replace Mazin Ahmad. Giles Coke returned from suspension to replace Steele and with Nick Hart recalled by Maidenhead, Alan Hughes regained his place in goal.

K's set out with positive intent. In the first minute Kenny Ojukwa challenged Matt Carvell and the ball ran loose for Collyer who fired wide from outside the penalty box. Unfortunately for Wealdstone, Carvell was injured and had to be replaced by Chris Cahill.

Wealdstone's biggest danger-man was skilful striker Jermaine Beckford, who caused K's problems as early as the sixth minute. After controlling the ball with three juggling volleys, he fired at goal from long range but Hughes was equal to the shot. K's responded four minutes later when Jon Coke's long ball found Phil Ruggles in the box, but under pressure from Cahill he fired wide.

A minute later Alimi played a well-timed through ball to captain Martyn Lee, but from an acute angle he pulled his shot across goal. K's kept the pressure up and on thirteen minutes Sanders rose above Gary Burrell to head a Phil Ruggles cross, seeing his effort only just miss the far post with goalkeeper Andy Carter stranded. Danny Collyer picked up a yellow card for handball, but K's kept pressurising Wealdstone and in the twentieth minute were rewarded with a goal.

Timothy brought the ball out of defence, then skipped through the Wealdstone midfield into the penalty area. He shot from an angle and Carter only managed to get a weak hand to the ball. Timothy's shot would probably have gone in, but Ruggles made sure by blasting the ball across the line from a yard out before any defenders could recover to clear the ball.

The lead lasted just four minutes though. Brian Jones' long range effort rebounded off the post and fell to Gary McKeown, who was allowed too much time to control the ball and then fire it under Hughes. Things went further downhill for the visitors in the twenty-eighth minute when Wealdstone scored again. A Jon Coke foul, for which he was booked, gave Wealdstone a free kick twenty-five yards out. Beckford curled the ball around the wall, but his shot was low and without power, and Hughes should have done better than to fumble it into the net.

The goals proved a real fillip for Stones who began to push forward more. McKeown and Richard Jolly both came close from long range before K's stunned the home side with a goal on the counter-attack. Lee picked out Alimi sprinting in behind the defence on the left flank, and the wing-back cut in toward goal. He switched onto his weaker right foot and calmly rolled the ball under the advancing goalkeeper. Dave Ryan managed to get back and get a foot to the ball with a desperate lunge, but was unable to keep the ball from going into the net and ended up with a somewhat harshly accredited own goal.

Jolly headed over for the home side after a clever chip by McKeown and then the Stones striker was denied by a good close-range save from Hughes after a long ball had caught K's defence napping. Another mistake just before half-time though made sure Wealdstone went into the break 3-2 up. Timothy and Jon Coke collide as they went for the same header, and Beckford sprinted onto the loose ball and fired an unstoppable volley past Hughes from the edge of the box.

Steele and his assistant Andy Clement delivered a furious half-time team talk, but it appeared to work as almost straight after the restart the score was level again. Confusion between Danny Wolf and Ryan saw Ojukwa rob the latter on the edge of the penalty box and then poke the ball between the legs of the out-rushing Carter to make it 3-3.

On fifty-five minutes though Wealdstone took the lead for the third time in the match. Richard Taylor's foul on Jolly presented Stones with another free kick 25 yards out. Ryan took it and Hughes was unable to cover his ground in time as Ryan's low shot went through the wall and crossed the line near the middle of the goal.

Three minutes later McKeown beat three visiting defenders as he skipped in from the left and tested Hughes again with a long-range effort which the keeper spilled before pouncing on at the second attempt. Two minutes later Hughes made a much better save, denying Burrell after the Wealdstone midfielder had broken through in the penalty box, but it was not without a moment of panic after he lost sight of the ball and Alimi eventually cleared after a goalmouth scramble.

On sixty-three minutes K's remarkably produced their third equaliser of the game. Bashiru Alimi's tenacious run down the left was stopped by a mistimed tackle from Ryan. While Stones players, including the goalkeeper, argued with the referee, Lee took a quick free kick pulling the ball back to Taylor on the edge of the area. The centre-back fired the ball low and hard into the box, where it caught a deflection off Cahill and bobbled over the line just before the out-of-position Carter could recover. Again, it was slightly harsh that it was awarded as an own goal.

In games as tight as this one, all teams need to find a man who is cool under pressure and will see them home. Unfortunately for Kingstonian, Danny Collyer proved not to be that man. After being penalised for a sixty-fifth minute foul he childishly blasted the ball away in the direction of the vocal Wealdstone support and left the referee no option but to show him his second yellow card. Three minutes later a through ball by Brian Jones sent Jolly free in the K's box, but Hughes dashed off his line and just beat him to the ball.

Collyer's dismissal seemed to rally K's, and in the seventy-sixth minute the men from Surrey finally recaptured the lead that they had lost fifty-two minutes and seven goals previously. An excellent cross-field ball by Lee found the hard-working Ruggles in space wide on the right. His low cross just evaded Ojukwa, but Alimi slid in at the far post and got to the ball. Agonisingly for K's, it seemed to get stuck in the sticky goalmouth between his legs as his momentum took him forward before somehow popping into the air, going over the fallen goalkeeper and landing just over the line amidst a tangled mass of bodies.

K's briefly pushed for a sixth - first Ojukwa was caught narrowly offside when through on goal and then Jason Shaw had to deflect a Ruggles twenty-yarder wide. Kingstonian soon transitioned to defence though, getting their men behind the ball. Wealdstone had the bulk of the possession and numerous corners, but K's hung on resolutely as Hughes showed a new found confidence in dealing with crosses and after a lengthy period of injury time, K's could eventually celebrate a remarkable victory.

It was a result that showed great character. When they have fallen behind in previous games, K's have sometimes dropped their heads and struggled. In this game though, they came from behind three times to eventually win. It was a bizarre game of football, full of errors from both sides. K's winning goal was probably the only one of the nine scored in the match for which neither a goalkeeper nor a defender was culpable.

As this scoreline and other recent ones testify, K's are a team of two halves right now. Going forward the likes of Ruggles, Ojukwa, Giles Coke, Lee, Alimi and Ahmad are playing brilliant attacking football and creating goals. At the back though, things seem to have improved little over recent weeks.

The other point that the team need to take note of is that K's cannot afford to get stupid red cards. The team has had four red cards in the last five league games. A team with a leaky defence needs eleven men on the pitch and a team with a small squad must avoid suspensions.

Nonetheless, it was a fantastic result for Kingstonian that delighted the travelling fans. Hopefully the team can build on this hard-fought win and begin to clamber their way to safety.

Sat 18th Dec 2004
White Lion (Edgware Town FC)
Isthmian League Premier
Ruggles, OG, Ojukwa, OG, Alimi
1Alan Hughes
2Daniel CollyerCautioned and Sent Off
3Steven Sanders
4Richard Taylor
5Jonathan CokeCautioned
6Giles Coke
7Kenny OjukwaCautioned17
8Bashiru Alimi
9Phil Ruggles
10Martyn Lee
11Dave Timothy
12Scott Steele
14Martyn Williams
15David Ocquaye
16Ahmed Tchankou
17Mazin Ahmad7
Match Report By
Simon Grier