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East Thurrock United 0-1 Kingstonian

Slowly but surely, something is happening to this Kingstonian team. It is finding a shape, a form and some consistent pattern. It might not yet be the most elegant sight - more a shakily-drawn right-angle than a line of beauty - but the Mark Hams-designed 4-1-4-1 offers what has been missing for a long time this season: a reliable sense of where players will be when the opposition have the ball and, when we have it, a similarly sure expectation of cautious midfield advance.

Much like the outer-suburbia that hosted the game (Corringham offers a disjointed landscape of power stations, towering pylons, semi-detached houses and those vast, looming, in-between Essex spaces), Saturday's 1-0 win at Rookery Hill was the perfect example of form following function.

But here's the thing: it works. And because it works, and because we had lost faith in imitation classicism, it's likeable. A touch nasty, brutalist, and when it comes to the first pass, well, not short. Rather: long, usually very long. And to Simon Huckle.

In any case, it's getting the best from this group of players. Full-backs Chris Page and Tom Bird provide both cover and organised width. Gary MacDonald and Tom Hutchinson have dropped deeper, confident in the ability of Ian Gayle to anchor the team in front of them. Bashiru Alimi, seemingly back to full fitness, can chase centrally and, crucially, Simon Huckle becomes the aerial target 30 yards from goal, the human pylon inviting us to gaze skyward.

Meanwhile, on the groundfloor, there are hints of the creative combining with the concrete. Jamie Byatt and Sam Clayton can provide the splashes of colour, the unexpected pass and change of direction, though inspiration will understandably come only fitfully.

And Clayton it was who once again consistently jinked and weaved his way into the game before scoring the winner from 20 yards in the 62nd minute. It was well-deserved: Ks had gone close on a number of occasions, the best chances coming just before half-time when Gayle shot straight at the keeper from six yards, Byatt smacked the bar with the rebound before Gayle fired the returning ball over the top.

Bobby Traynor, toiling alone upfront, had his best moment in the third minute when a strike on the turn flashed just past the post. Otherwise, his unselfish display provided the space for others to lay foundations for the play-off push Ks are building.

Sat 3rd Dec 2011
Rookery Hill
Isthmian League Premier
East Thurrock U0
1Rob Tolfrey
2Chris Page
3Tom Bird
4Gary MacDonald
5Tom Hutchinson
6Ian Gayle
7Sam Clayton
8Bashiru AlimiCautioned
9Bobby Traynor
10Simon HuckleCautioned
11Jamie Byatt15
12Jason Henry
14Hongi Moon
15Stuart Duff11
16Matthew Warren
17Jake Whincup
Match Report By
Taimour Lay