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Kingstonian 1-0 Croydon Athletic

NJ Lampton's fifth goal of the season - and his second header into the back of the net - could prove to be his most valuable after he secured a very late winner.

With Kingstonian's season looking to peter out three matches before the end, up jumped the midfielder and headed home the ball against Croydon Athletic three minutes into overtime and keep up some pressure on the last play-off place for promotion in May.

A cross from Tommy Williams into the box in one more attack in the second half saw Lampton connect with the ball and in spite of Michael Lidbury's hand the back of the net finally bulged and the referee Dean Martin could point to the centre spot.

One more minute was played and K's had their three valuable points to keep within touching distance of South Coast promotions rivals Worthing.

The score line flattered the visitors, who were beaten on a cold November night courtesy of Bobby Traynor and Dean Lodge: but this time Kingstonian were thwarted by a strong defence, bereft of influential Luke Adams after his sending off in the 20th minute. Unlike the first fixture this was the only red card shown.

Indeed Adams created the first chance, only to be denied by Luke Garrard, showing some of his Cray form with a superb tip over the bar. A second corner, still in the fourth minute, was easy meat for the man between the sticks.

Richard Blackwell then piled on the pressure minutes after with a free header from the left - but that was as good as it really got for the south Londoners.

Lodge then began his all too familiar counter attacks with a run up the right, trouncing two defenders on the way, before passing to Simon Huckle up front. At which point the flag rose for offside, with the Rams playing their offside trap or the first of many times.

On the quarter hour Simon Sobihy saw his headed ball go over the top after Williams' corner from the left.

Five minutes later the game was turned upside down when Adams was shown a red card for bringing down Lodge in full throw. At Cray Lodge had twice suffered the same fate but stumbled on, scoring once. This time with 'keeper Lidbury in attendance, there was no magnanimity shown by the winger.

Just outside the box but centre, Williams stepped up only for the ball to rebound against the wall and Lodge unable to do anything with the loose ball. Gavin Cartwright then saw his shot, four minutes later, go over the top. This was followed by a similar shot, albeit lower, from Lampton and then a right footed shot also over from Lodge.

Traynor was then blocked after a long pumped shot from Wayne Finnie. Finnie followed this up in the dying minutes with a characteristic long throw in from the left but Lampton was denied.

In between, in the 40th minute, Garrard found himself at the receiving end of Moses Ademola's feet, bravely diving in at the last minute. After getting the magic sponge from physio Jamie Street, he picked himself up from the pitch.

Injury time in the first half saw a yellow for Greg Andrews as he bought down Lodge with a block.

Inspired no doubt by the dressing room rocket from Alan Dowson, Ks began the second half in contrast from the start of the first half. Lidbury got a hand from the kick off to a Huckle header after a pass in by Lodge. Lodge then tried a snap shot minutes later but was denied. And then Lodge again - from Huckle.

Next it was Finnie's header that went awry, deflected by the defence, before Lampton shot over the bar. By now the promised rain was teeming down and puddles were on the pitch. For a passing team, like Kingstonian, this augured badly and so it was with Athletic finally posting a shot somewhere round target from Ademola in the 65th minute.

In spite of this both Huckle and Lodge had chances and then Williams shot over the top. Pressure was finally beginning to increase on the away end. Lodge shot wide from Huckle. Williams then saw his corner punched out by Lidbury.

Finnie then got in the way of Lampton's cross in from a Williams free kick. And with the sun reappearing Sobihy broke through with a low left footed shot that hit the inside of the upright - only for Lodge to be denied the rebound.

With 90 minutes up that should have been it but Lampton's head had other plans and three minutes later the deadlock was finally broken. Three points gained and possibly promotion. The failure in Kent the week before could turn out insignificant with both this match and the win against Worthing the month before becoming the final turning points.

Two matches left - both at home to Whyteleafe and then Eastbourne - are winnable and must wins if Kingstonian are to progress into the play-offs. But if the term fall before then, fans can at least point out that the Royal Borough's team have royally entertained them many times throughout autumn and winter then this season will not have been a failure. It augurs well for next time, whichever step they are in.

Saturday 12th April 2008
(Croydon Athletic H)
Alan Dowson interview
[WMA file - 7:15 - 1,743Kb]

Sat 12th Apr 2008
Kingsmeadow Stadium
Isthmian League Division One South
Croydon Athletic0
1Luke Garrard
2Jamie Beer
3Jon Coke
4Simon Sobihy
5Wayne Finnie
6Gavin Cartwright
7Neil Lampton
8Tommy Williams
9Bobby Traynor
10Simon Huckle
11Dean Lodge
12David Suchy
14Danny Summers
15Steve Goddard
16Rob Sheridan
17Luke Naughton
Match Report By
Michael Underwood