We Couldn’t Score In A Brothel – Burnham (H)

1. Another 2-1 home win, but that doesn’t even begin to tell the story of an almost farcical afternoon at Kingsmeadow. K’s made 7 (SEVEN (in videprinter style)) clear-cut chances as well as several further half-chances, yet through a combination of dire finishing, poor decision-making, and good goalkeeping, the home team somehow contrived to turn what should have been a thrashing into a nervous last few minutes.

2. This really should have been a rout. McCollin missed from three yards during the K’s onslaught during the first 15 minutes; Wade Small forgot his shooting boots or else he would have a hat-trick; Pattison hit the woodwork twice; Burnham scrambled THREE off the line over the 90 minutes; and just in the last 10 minutes, Dean Lodge managed to waste two or three fantastic situations on the counter attack by shooting instead of passing, and vice versa. The hoops picked a very good game in which to be this profligate, as Burnham offered little, but let’s hope this was a one-off.

3. More was expected from Burnham, who have a fine goalscoring record in the Southern League Central. But then, a tougher game was expected in the FA Cup in September against Guildford City – above Burnham in the same league table – and that game also turned into a mismatch, providing more evidence to fuel the suspicion among non-league followers that the Southern League is weak below its Premier Division at the moment. Burnham were a big, strong side who put their all into every tackle and fought over every blade of grass – but they had no class, no flair and no imagination going forward. Their goal was scored via an extremely fortunate deflection which wrong-footed Rob Tolfrey; their other chances, bar one, were created via (yet again) lapses in concentration at the back. That “bar one” in the previous sentence was the critical moment of the match: a good through ball split the K’s defence mid-way through the second half, and Burnham’s striker found himself clean through on goal with the chance to make it 2-2. On such moments are cup-ties decided, and Tolfrey was up to the challenge, as usual, blocking the goal-bound effort.

4. Alan Dowson must be enjoying himself at the moment: when was the last time he had so many good tactical and personnel selection options? We played a genuine wide 4-4-2 on Saturday, with two out-and-out strikers, two wingers, and only one ‘holding’ player (Huckle), meaning that we usually had five players forward, which occasionally became six or even seven – and Burnham simply couldn’t cope with it. But if Dowse wants to be more solid, we can either play a more narrow 4-4-2, as we did at Lowestoft – with Pattison out wide and another ‘holder’ in the middle, such as Somner – and we’ve got the players and ability to play 4-2-3-1, as we have already done successfully this season, at home to Lewes, for instance. It’s looking good.

5. Finally, I implore the players: please, please PLEASE can we win in the next round and actually go on a cup run? We have an exciting, attacking team, playing great football – and the only way more people are going to come and watch it is via a cup run. Wealdstone have taken a substantial number of their new/returning fans from their Trophy run last term into this season as regulars, and there’s no reason why we couldn’t do the same. This club has a fantastic heritage in the Trophy and it really is about time that we lived up to it – starting with despatching Lewes/Brentwood in the next round.

Man Of The Match: Matt Pattison. Outstanding throughout – and managed to hit the bar from the halfway line!

Key Moment: The missed Burnham one-on-one, when K’s were teetering mid-way through the second half.

Away Fans: 2/10 – there were two of them. Still, they both seemed to enjoy themselves.

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Are We Really A Second Half Team?

Football fans at all levels love to think their side is a ‘second half team’ – it gives you hope if you’re losing at half time, and confidence you’ll see the game out if you’re winning. But what’s the truth of the matter in the Ryman Premier so far this season? I’ve compiled all the half time scores so far this season (if there’s a mistake, it’s your club’s press officer’s fault, as they’re taken from PA) and crunched the numbers. This is something I’ll be revisiting throughout the season, and should prove more revealing the more games are played, but here’s the picture so far:

1. The Half-Time League Table. In other words, if all the games so far this season had finished at half time, would would the league table look like? There’s some obvious surprises in there:
– Cray would be third;
– Runaway leaders Hampton would only be fourth (though still unbeaten). In fact, the only two goals the Beavers have conceded have been first half strikes…so you’d better start well against them, or you’ve got no chance;
– Thurrock would be in midtable, and Wingate bottom of the league instead.

Pos Team P W D L F A P W D L F A P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Kingstonian 4 2 1 1 6 5 5 3 1 1 7 4 9 5 2 2 13 9 17 4
2 Wealdstone 6 4 2 0 8 4 3 0 2 1 0 1 9 4 4 1 8 5 16 3
3 Cray 3 1 1 1 1 1 4 3 1 0 7 2 7 4 2 1 8 3 14 5
4 Hampton 5 3 2 0 5 2 3 0 3 0 0 0 8 3 5 0 5 2 14 3
5 Whitehawk 4 2 2 0 4 2 5 1 3 1 4 4 9 3 5 1 8 6 14 2
6 Bognor 4 0 4 0 0 0 5 2 3 0 5 2 9 2 7 0 5 2 13 3
7 Bury Town 4 1 2 1 1 1 3 2 1 0 4 1 7 3 3 1 5 2 12 3
8 Harrow 3 1 2 0 3 0 5 2 1 2 3 4 8 3 3 2 6 4 12 2
9 Margate 5 2 2 1 3 1 3 1 1 1 3 2 8 3 3 2 6 3 12 3
10 Canvey 5 1 4 0 4 2 4 1 1 2 1 2 9 2 5 2 5 4 11 1
11 Lowestoft 4 2 1 1 5 2 3 1 1 1 2 2 7 3 2 2 7 4 11 3
12 Enfield T 5 2 1 2 3 5 3 0 2 1 3 5 8 2 3 3 6 10 9 -4
13 Hendon 4 2 1 1 4 3 3 0 2 1 0 1 7 2 3 2 4 4 9 0
14 Concord 3 1 0 2 2 4 5 1 2 2 1 3 8 2 2 4 3 7 8 -4
15 ETU 3 1 0 2 1 2 5 1 2 2 2 2 8 2 2 4 3 4 8 -1
16 Leiston 4 2 2 0 4 2 4 0 0 4 1 7 8 2 2 4 5 9 8 -4
17 Thurrock 3 2 0 1 2 2 4 0 2 2 2 6 7 2 2 3 4 8 8 -4
18 Hastings 3 1 2 0 2 1 4 0 2 2 1 3 7 1 4 2 3 4 7 -1
19 Carshalton 5 0 3 2 2 5 3 0 3 0 0 0 8 0 6 2 2 5 6 -3
20 Met Police 3 0 1 2 2 5 4 1 2 1 1 1 7 1 3 3 3 6 6 -3
21 Lewes 3 0 2 1 2 3 6 0 3 3 4 7 9 0 5 4 6 10 5 -4
22 Wingate 5 0 4 1 0 1 4 0 1 3 2 5 9 0 5 4 2 6 5 -4

2. Second Half Teams: This shows how many points your club has won or lost after half time. Do your players fight to the last whistle or have they been tending to bottle it? For a more detailed view, click on the button in the bottom-right corner to enter fullscreen view. It’s notable that the promotion favourites tend to get stronger as the game goes on: none of the top 8 have lost points after half time, and six of those 8 have gained points. The situation is reversed for the less fancied teams.

3. Should I Stay In The Bar? This shows the aggregate first half goals by home ground, helping fans of all Isthmian teams to decide whether to have that extra pint before kick-off. You’d be well advised to stay in the sanctuary of the bar at Bognor, where there hasn’t been a single first half goal yet this season, and Wingate fans may as well turn up at half-time as their team hasn’t netted in the first period at home. On the other hand, us Kingstonian fans need to make sure we’re through the turnstiles on time, otherwise we’re likely to miss a goal. Again, click on the bottom-right to zoom in on the detail.

1-0 And You F*cked It Up – Eastbourne Town (H)

1. Sunday 30th September will be remembered for decades as the date of one of the great sporting comebacks, as Europe came back from the dead at Medinah – and at Kingsmeadow, Kingstonian completed a slightly less celebrated comeback of their own with two late Wade Small goals. Comebacks always feel good, whether they take place in front of 300 anoraks at an English non-league football game, or in front of 50,000 mindless jocks at one of the world’s top sporting competitions. Comebacks also always bring effusive praise from fans, because of the very British peculiarity that we’d rather support a sportsman, or a team, with bottle and nerve rather than one with talent alone. The fact that K’s showed a huge amount of desire and character to get this win shouldn’t be ignored, but neither should it disguise a very average performance.

2. The truth is that K’s were desperately poor for long periods of this game, and could very easily have lost had Eastbourne been slightly more clinical in front of goal. Coming as this fixture did on the back of the morale-sapping cup defeat to East Thurrock, perhaps it was no surprise that K’s failed to return to the swashbuckling standards of the first five games of the season. But the players looked lethargic in the main, and Eastbourne comfortably held their own in the first half. The second half brought more urgency, and K’s at least tried to move the ball more quickly, but it took Dowse’s substitutions (not for the first time this season) to give K’s a genuine attacking threat. There’s some tricky league fixtures coming up, and we need to improve.

3. We need to talk about Gary MacDonald. Leader? Undoubtedly. Good bloke in the dressing room? I have no idea, but those who do know about these things say that he is. Fantastic going forward? Indeed – to the tune of several goals a season. But do the first three positives outweigh the fact that he’s been very average every time he’s played this season? And, cutting to the point, can we afford to play a centre half who seems to make at least one, and often two, major errors every time he plays? It seems like this question isn’t allowed to be asked, that it’s a taboo subject around the club – but it needs to be said. Gary: please, please concentrate for 90 minutes!

4. We also need to talk about Craig Mullen. Was it that lower-league Eastbourne were used to marking burly target men that allowed them to deal with his threat so comfortably? Or was his promising performance at Guildford a flash in the pan? On Sunday he was neither quick enough to run in behind nor strong enough to hold up the ball consistently and drag the rest of the team up the pitch. Given there’s little goal threat either, I’m not sure the big man will keep his place for Saturday’s game.

5. Is it overstating the case to say that we might, perhaps, be at a crossroads? A quick return to the exciting, threatening, marauding side of August and early September would indicate that maybe the last three games can be written off  – one played with 10 men, and the other two in the cups – and as such there’s nothing to worry about. Equally, a continuation of the hesitant and downright poor defending of the last two games would without question lead to a downturn in form in the league as well. Come on lads, show us what you’re about.

Man Of The Match: Wade Small, even though he was only on the pitch for 25 minutes. That says a lot about the first 65…

Key Moment: There were two, both as important as each other. First, Rob Tolfrey’s point-blank reaction save, and then the Eastbourne centre forward’s inexplicable miss from 6 yards out with the score at 0-1. If either had gone in, it would have been over, and we’d have been out of the Trophy with a third successive loss. As it is, we’re through with a morale-boosting win. Fine margins.

Away Fans: 0/10. I couldn’t see one. What’s the point?