1. Why on earth did I set off at half nine, knackered, get soaked on the way to the station, and then drive for more than three hours to a non-league football game? That’s certainly what I was thinking five minutes in, with the rain so hard and the wind so strong that I was getting wet under a covered terrace, and with K’s 1-0 down already to a farcical goal. Dorchester had got in down our left, crossed the ball in, and Aaron Goode simply smashed the ball home from six yards. He didn’t slice it or shin it – he hit it right off the laces. Only Aaron will know what he was trying to do, but whatever the reason for it, K’s were really up against it.
2. Dorchester then piled on the pressure for the next 15 minutes, and K’s had to cling on to stay in the tie. The Dorch gameplan was very simple – get the ball out wide as quickly as possible and pump the ball into the box – but in the first quarter of the game, it was extremely effective. The swirling gale-force wind made defending high crosses exceptionally difficult, and K’s were missing the physical presence of Sam Page at the back. The pitch was also awful, more suited to a 3 mile chase at Cheltenham than a football game, and as such you couldn’t really blame the home team for their approach. As a result of all this we just couldn’t clear our lines properly, and whether it was from a long ball or a long throw, the ball just kept coming back into our box.
3. But it was from one of these panicked defensive situations that the game turned in K’s favour. The ball was half-cleared to Harold Odamatey, and you could almost see him think to himself: “fuck this”. He put his head down and drove through the wind and rain deep into Dorchester territory, before laying off to Gomez, who hit a low cross to the back stick where Reece Beckles slid in to score. From nowhere, suddenly we were level, and the players’ body language went up several notches. Almost immediately, K’s swept forward again and Gomez put K’s in front, to send the hardy few away supporters mental.
4. From that point on, K’s looked the more potent team, full of swagger and attitude. Instead of being battered, in the main we managed to keep Dorchester’s long ball game at arm’s length by closing down the ball better in midfield. In no small part this was because Harold Odamatey was immense. He didn’t just cover every patch of mud, breaking up play and winning the ball back for K’s, as he’d done so well in recent games; he also got forward at every opportunity, adding numbers to K’s breaks and giving Gomez the support he needed. Pico was also at his best, a real menace for the Dorchester defence, a potent mixture of holding the ball up and also running in behind. There was no shortage of effort from all the other lads, who really out a proper shift in, but in the conditions there just wasn’t enough quality on show, and defensively we never quite really convinced.
5. Sadly we didn’t manage to get over the line. Pico hit the keeper when one-on-one; Beckles couldn’t tip the bouncing ball past the advancing goalie when through on goal; and the (extremely inconsistent) referee only gave K’s a free kick, and only gave the Dorch defender a yellow, when he was clean through and taken out very, very close to the edge of the box. As such it wasn’t a surprise that Dorchester equalised, but it was a surprise that we managed to score again, leading to an ironic chorus of “4-0 to the hooped Brazil”. Still, this was a superb effort. More of the same on Monday, please.
Player Ratings: Tolfrey 7; Goode 6, Inns 6, Hogg 6, Wells 6; Bennett 5, Odamatey 9.5, O’Leary 7, Smith 5; Beckles 7, Gomez 8