1-0 And We F*cked It Up – Canvey Island (H)

1. What an enormous disappointment. Having watched all 180 minutes of K’s v Canvey this season, I have no doubt that Kingstonian have the team with more talent, quality and all-round potential: when we’ve played well, we have been far too good for the Islanders, carving them open almost at will. And yet, the inescapable truth is that they have taken all six points from our two encounters – and neither of the wins has been a smash-and-grab success. Why? Because K’s have only managed to play well for a total of 115 minutes out of the 180 – the second half of the away game, and the first seventy minutes of Saturday’s home match. In those 115 minutes, we’ve led Canvey 3-1, and really that fails to tell the full story of K’s dominance: in the away game we missed countless chances, and on Saturday, again, there were a number of close calls for the Yellows where K’s could quite easily have gone further ahead. But really, that attempt at an excuse disguises the ugly truth of the matter: when the going’s good, we look very good indeed; when they going gets tough, more often than not we are dreadful. This was the story of Saturday’s game: for 70 minutes we were vastly superior to Canvey, and then at the first sign of adversity (conceding an unexpected goal) we turned into a dreadful football team, with the Yellows thoroughly dominating the remainder of the match. There is no doubting that the squad has real class, but the players need to roll their sleeves up and show some fighting spirit when required, starting tomorrow against Harrow, in what will no doubt be a niggly game of few chances.

2. And yet it had all started so well. The collapse instigated by Canvey’s out-of-the-blue equaliser shouldn’t destroy the first 70 minutes, which again illustrated the potential of this Kingstonian line-up. This was a calm, controlled, authoritative home display, where K’s were always on the front foot without leaving gaping holes at the back for Canvey to exploit on the break. In short, it was an excellent performance – and if any of the numerous chances for a second goal had gone in, then this may have been a routine home win. Special mention has once again to be given to Lewis Taylor, who was immense, like a non-league Yaya Toure, snapping into tackles yet driving forward from central midfield at every opportunity and showing real attacking class. His dinked through ball to Andre McCollin, which led to K’s goal, was the highlight of the match.

3. It was Tom Bird’s defensive error which led directly to Canvey’s equaliser. Yet the left-back had his best 90 minutes in a red and white hooped shirt since his return to the club from Carshalton. His defensive positioning was sound, covering the centre halves where necessary and tracking Canvey’s right winger satisfactorily, but it was his attacking game which stood out. The marauding, dazing wing back of his first spell at the club seemed to have been replaced by a solid but unspectacular full back upon his return – but Saturday marked a return to form, with several overlapping runs made down the left touchline ending with dangerous crosses into the box. More of the same please, Tom – but without that crucial error at the back next time.

4. This blog loves a good, honest, no frills holding midfielder, the kind of player you don’t fully appreciate until they’re missing and everything suddenly falls to pieces. They break up opposition attacks through good positioning rather than flying challenges; they launch attacking moves through simple side-footed passes instead of Hollywood long balls from the back. It is Matt Somner’s job to do this for Kingstonian, and by and large, since being played in his favoured position, he has done it well – in fact, away at Bognor, his performance was exemplary. Yet on the 70 minute mark on Saturday, he went missing in action, a factor which in no small part contributed to Canvey’s domination of the rest of the game. He went missing because, no doubt frustrated at drawing a game 1-1 in which K’s had been far superior, he went chasing the game, trying to win the ball further up the pitch and look for killer through balls to the forwards. This meant that Lewis Taylor couldn’t get the ball, and it meant that K’s were all of a sudden wide open defensively. Saturday should serve as a lesson: against decent sides at this level, the team needs a defensive midfielder to maintain his focus and do what he is in the side to do. Clearly, Somner was trying to do what he thought was the ‘right thing’ – but it was entirely counter-effective.

5. Where to now for this team? In my opinion, this is the best squad of players the club has assembled for ten years. Time to start showing it on a consistent basis, by displaying the sort of mental strength that is required to win promotion.

Man of the Match: Lewis Taylor. Absolutely outstanding yet again.

Away Fans: 6/10. A decent showing from the Islanders, normally not that keen to travel to dry ground – and even a bit of noise at 0-0 and 2-1 up. Good effort.

Key Moment: Tom Bird’s touch which allowed Canvey to equalise, and led to K’s complete collapse.

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