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Croydon Athletic 3-1 Kingstonian

Kingstonian headed to Croydon having played just two of the eight teams above them in the league, and had secured just 1 point from the two ties. And that was on the opening day of the season. The omens then, did not spell out success for Kingstonian, but with the current run of sporadic results from Ryman 1, nothing could be ruled out. The result that came was, in the end, probably fair, but as is so often the case in Ryman 1, not without its more farcical moments.

Macca's boys headed out in yellow and blue, with a number of changes from Saturday's squad. Martin Lee returned from suspension to take up position on the left wing and Paul Wetherall started alongside Tony Reid up front, pushing Lewes loan boys Bradley and Fogden to the bench. Scott Corbett was out with a knock and replaced by Wayne Noad, who vacated the right back spot to allow Andrew Julius his first start for the K's. Kenny Ojukwa spent the first half on the bench after getting stuck in traffic. One further change to the advertised line up saw the armband transferred to centre back Julian Sills.

With so many changes to the side over the last few games, it was not entirely unexpected that the team might not gel straight away. The opening exchanges saw Kingstonian look shaky, and it took just two minutes for the home side to capitalise. A cross into the K's box was headed past Martini by Tyrone Myton, who was afforded far too much space. A free header for the shortest man on the pitch will always leave fans and managers questioning their defence.

Despite going a goal down in the opening minutes, Kingstonian didn't let their heads drop. They began to press forward and held possession well. There was a lot of neat passing around the wings, which led to a couple of nice opportunities. Ten minutes after the goal, K's looked certain to level. Martin Lee's run down the wing produced a neat short pass along the ground to Ahmad, who had made a run into the corner of the box. Ahmad pushed forward before pulling the ball back to Tony Reid. Reid looked certain to score but he miscued and sent the ball wide.

Moments later Martini was called on to keep K's in the game. A powerful shot from Athletic striker Allen was parried away by the Kingstonian keeper. Moments later at the other end, Croydon Athletic's man between the sticks, Luke Garrard was forced to make a dive when Paul Wetherall put a shot on target from 30 yards. It looked impressive, but in reality did little to test the keeper.

Less than twenty minutes into the first half, Croydon Athletic doubled their advantage with a well taken strike from Matt Howard found the back of the net. Played in at the edge of the box, Howard took a touch toward the wing before belting his shot across the face of goal into the opposite corner, beating by inches an outstretched Martini. The goal left K's needing to get three goals to take all the points, a feat achieved only once so far this season.

Half way through the first half there was almost a reprieve for K's. Ahmad having set up a sitter for Reid earlier in the half, Reid decided to return the favour. A surging run into the box from Reid was well controlled, and he pulled the ball back to Ahmad. The strike was superb, and was on its way into the bottom corner with the keeper beaten until Athletic captain James Gibson stretched out his leg and managed to block the shot.

Just past the half hour mark, Athletic broke quickly and K's were caught short. Richard Taylor was beaten in defence and a one-on-one seemed inevitable until debutant Andrew Julius charged back to pull off a perfectly timed tackle to clear the danger. Or so it seemed until the ref awarded a penalty. K's players were unimpressed, and Reeks was cautioned for dissent. Allen stepped up and took an excellent penalty into the bottom corner. Martini went the right way but couldn't quite reach, leaving K's to go in at the break three goals to the bad.

The half time break saw Ojukwa come on up front, with Wetherall moving to the wing to replace Ahmad, who was subbed off. K's started strongly, with a couple of early free kicks from Lee looking dangerous. A few minutes in, good play from Reeks on the left wing produced a long cross which was played back to Lee. Lee put the ball in the box and Reid went up for it. The keeper got there first and appeared to have both hands on the ball as Reid headed it into the net. A free kick seemed the likely result, but the goal was allowed to stand. Whether referee Ian Gosling felt guilty over the bad penalty decision or just wasn't watching was unclear. Either way, the goal stood, giving K's a faint glimmer of hope.

For the rest of the half it always looked more likely that Croydon would extend the gap than Kingstonian close it. There was little action though, and the two sides carved out only a handful of chances between them. The home side came close twice in quick succession. A header from a corner was knocked over the bar by Martini, with the resulting corner producing another header, this time headed off the line by Sills. K's had a little push towards the end, but it was too little too late and the points were already long since lost.

Dodgy refereeing aside, Kingstonian simply did not play well enough to win this match. A lot of the key players continued to play well on an individual basis. But with so many changes and inconsistencies the team don't play well together and seem to lack the will or ability to really punish the opposition.

Tue 1st Nov 2005
Isthmian League Division One
Croydon Athletic3
1Chuck Martini
2Andrew Julius
3Richard Taylor
4Wayne Noad
5Julian Sills
6Stuart ReeksCautioned
7Mazin Ahmad12
8Bashiru Alimi
9Tony Reid
10Paul Wetherall
11Martyn Lee
12Kenny Ojukwa7
14Nicholas Fogden
15Ryan Bradley
16Jonathan Coke
17Paul Brady
Match Report By
Kevin O'Connor