Get yourselves to Kingsmeadow on Saturday. And more importantly, drag your friends, family, colleagues and anyone else you can think down to the game as well! It’s Non League Day 2014 – what better excuse to take in a game?
1. I’d never been to Tonbridge before – and it turns out it’s a decent day out. The walk from the station to the ground takes about 30 minutes, and is basically a pub-lined avenue through a pleasant enough town; the ground has terrific covered sheds at each end, and a decent little bar with the local ale on tap. The presence of the odious Steve McKimm in the away dugout in his first managerial role had the potential to overshadow the game itself, but K’s fans rose above it, and basically ignored him. Hopefully that will remain the case in the reverse fixture at Kingsmeadow.
2. Fortunately, the game didn’t ruin the day, as so often happens on these occasions – but only because Kingstonian took 3 points. It was a poor game, truth be told, between a K’s side packed with individual quality but unable to string two passes together, and an Angels eleven which was a much more cohesive unit but short on class. As a result, Tonbridge dominated the middle third of the pitch, while K’s had the better of the exchanges in both penalty areas. This is becoming a worrying theme. Any club with Alan Inns, Sam Page, Andre McCollin and Nathaniel Pinney on their books should be better in both boxes than most of the opposition in this league – but a club with Josh Casey, Steve Laidler, Tommy Kavanagh and Dan Sweeney should also be able to pass the ball through midfield.
3. The lack of cohesion in the side has seemed so far this season to stem from a lack of balance. That problem was partially fixed on Saturday with Nathaniel Pinney starting ahead of Elvis Hammond: Pinney dropped off deeper when necessary and was willing to do the hard yards with his back to goal, holding the ball up to drag the team up the pitch. However, the midfield remains disjointed. Laidler and Kavanagh haven’t really gelled in the midfield engine room: much of the time, they’re either both deep and thus inviting the pressure or both ahead of the ball and thus leaving the back four exposed. Sweeney is being played out of position, wide in a 4-4-2, and is struggling to contribute, although his work rate on Saturday was exceptional. Chris Henry, starting on the left wing to give the side much needed width, had yet another poor game against Tonbidge, and delivered only one cross of note in all his time on the pitch. Tommy Williams needs to find a solution that works – and quickly, given the number of important games coming up.
4. You might be reading this thinking, “this is a bit harsh – we’re unbeaten and won an away game 2-0!” But Tonbridge were desperately poor, in all honesty. Listening to Steve McKimm’s interview after the game, it appears there’s a pretty strong reason why they didn’t look a good side: injuries. Their back four was cobbled together the night before the match – and it showed. The fact K’s only made three clear cut chances during the game is a cause for concern, not celebration.
5. Finally, on a positive note, let’s not understate just how good K’s defending was on Saturday. It was immense – and that’s without Matt Drage, imperious for us last season, who was looking on from the stands. If we can absorb that much pressure and still win, it bodes well. But let’s try not to put ourselves under that much pressure, eh, lads?
Player Ratings: Tolfrey 7; Goode 8 Inns 9 Page 9 Casey 8; Sweeney 7 Kavanagh 5 Laidler 5 Henry 4; Pinney 7 McCollin 8
Man of the Match: Alan Inns. Colossal.