Match Preview: Kingstonian v Bromley, London Cup Final

So, a chance for some silverware before the Summer break. First, some statistics:

Head to Head in the London Senior Cup:
Kingstonian – 4
Bromley – 2
London Senior Cup wins:
Kingstonian – 3
Bromley – 4
Standings:
Kingstonian – Finished 11th in the Ryman Premier League
Bromley – Finished 15th in Conference South (4 points above relegation)
Form (in last 8 games):
Kingstonian – W2 D1 L5 F7 A12
Bromley – W1 D0 L7 F4 A22

In short, then, it’s not easy to predict the result of the Final. The two clubs have a very similar attitude to the London Senior Cup – a mixture of “we may as well enter” and “in it to win it” – but both camps have been making all the right noises about “ending the season on a high” and “winning a trophy for the fans”. The two team selections should provide an early indication of just how desperate each manager is to win the game. In particular, the selection of Player of the Season Joe Welch in goal for Bromley in place of George Howard – who’s been selected in every London Cup game so far – would demonstrate that Mark Goldberg really want to end the season on a high. For Kingstonian, Alan Dowson’s strongest XI is a little less obvious, as it’s the young players such as Jamil Okai and Luke Wanadio who have been the brightest sparks of the disappointing recent performances. However, Dowse has chosen to experiment tactically in recent games – the selection of right-footed defender Sidorowicz on the left wing at home to Concord being the strangest selection of all – and if the team lines up in a solid 4-4-2 or similar, then he means business.

Kingstonian’s season has almost exactly mirrored 2011/12: a tame mid-table finish, falling gates, poor performances in big games, and a London Senior Cup Final reached almost by accident. Again, the tantalising prospect of a pitch invasion and a trophy awaits with one good performance when it counts – and a win also offers the prospect of ending the year on a high, and starting next season with renewed hope and optimism. Last year the team put in a truly dire performance in the final, which meant that the supporters sloped off into the Summer even more dejected than they would otherwise have been. It would be a crying shame if the players let everybody down again: even if you can’t win it, boys, show some heart, break this downward spiral, and give us behind the goal something to shout about.

It should be close, it should be tense – but more than anything, it should be one of those fun nights to be a Kingstonian fan when we show what we’re about. COME ON YOU K’S!

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Luke Wan-ad-io, Luke Wan-ad-io – Hampton (A)

1. This was the classic cliche – the “end of season affair between two mid-table sides”. Both teams were poor, lacking in quality, and combined with a bobbly, uneven pitch, this was a fairly wretched spectacle for the bumper Easter crowd. The immediate conclusion in the post-match pub chat was another cliche – that the K’s players simply “wanted it more” than their Hampton counterparts, and it’s interesting to hear that Mark Hams agreed with this analysis. K’s seemed sharper in the tackle and more prepared to put in the hard graft required to win the game, tracking back well and maintaining their concentration when defending set pieces. Given that Kingstonian FC have very clearly given up on promotion this season, and decided to release some of the higher earners already as a result, it was pleasing for the fans and management alike to see that those players who remained had their hearts in the right place. In fact, it was somewhat of a pleasant surprise given the half-hearted efforts over the last couple of months: after everything that’s happened, it’s clear that everybody at Kingstonian FC is still very much united behind its management team.

2. Which brings me onto Hampton, who haven’t yet trimmed their wage bill to quite the extent that K’s have, and as a result should be able to produce a far better showing than they managed on Saturday. Players were going through the motions, playing at 90% rather than 100%, doing just enough, not making that extra stretch for the ball. Darren Powell’s performance, which presumably didn’t come cheap, was a joke, quite literally – his utter incompetence and disinterest was laugh out loud funny. It all smacked of a group of players who don’t really rate their manager. Certainly, if in some godawful parallel universe I was a Hampton fan, I’d be extremely worried for next season.

3. Matt Somner was once again something of a revelation at centre half, giving Dowse a few things to ponder in the off-season. Bar a couple of outstanding performances – notably at Bognor, where he was immense – Somer hasn’t really done the job he was brought into the club to do. K’s have needed a reliable holding midfielder who can pass the ball ever since the Huckle-Williams central midfield axis was so badly exposed in the opening few games of K’s return to this level. Dowse has done his best to work around the lack of personnel in that key position – playing 4-5-1, 3-5-2 and several variations of three central midfielders for much of the past three seasons – but Somner’s arrival and form in his first few games meant that the team looked both solid and potent playing 4-4-2. His lack of form over the past six weeks has been a major factor in the downturn in K’s form. Is he a genuine option at centre half?

4. Given that we’ve (correctly) settled for mid-table and reduced the wage bill accordingly, Dowse threw down the gauntlet to some of the unproven players seeking to be registered as K’s players next year.  Here’s how they did on Saturday:
Szymon Sidorowicz – whose name caused the home announcer such trouble the first time that the second time he just called him “Kingstonian number 2, err, number 2” – looked a defensively solid enough right back, but that’s the very minimum we should expect of a player who AFCW’s scouts believe could play in the football league in the future. He didn’t get forward much, and as such Dowse will I’m sure want to get a better look at him over the coming weeks.
Luke Wanadio has his own popular terrace chant already, and that tells you a lot. He has bags of promise: explosive pace, a good first touch, decent close control and he isn’t scared to run at the opposition defenders. Yes, he needs to learn to get his head up, but he was the bright spark on a dull Easter Saturday.
Jamil Okai apparently has a fantastic scoring record at Academy level, but having also missed his goalscoring exploits for the first team in the London Cup, I remain perplexed as to how. It’s probably fairest to leave it at this: he worked tirelessly, but let’s hope Saturday wasn’t his finest day in terms of quality.

5. The rest of this season will inevitably fizzle out, but I really hope that the players – whichever players are selected – show as much effort and try as hard as the players did on Saturday. Frankly, as a fan, it’s the very least I demand.

Man Of The Match: Matt Somner. Playing out of position with a right-back for company for the majority of the game, he was almost faultless, and scored the winner. Unlucky to be sent off for a firm, mistimed, clumsy challenge which appeared to merit a yellow card rather than a straight red.

Key Moment: Darren Powell‘s comical attempt at a clearance which gifted Somner the only goal of the game.