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Kingstonian 2
Small (76', 82')
1 Eastbourne Town
Murphy (46' og)

K’s overcome the Eastbourne ultimatum

It took two late goals from a substitute against a team from a lower division, but Wade Small’s double ensured Ks avoided the ignominy of crashing out of cup competitions on successive weekends.

Eastbourne Town gave Kingstonian a fright, but in the end Alan Dowson’s side deserved their 2-1 victory.

The manager continued to shuffle his pack in the face of injury and absence amongst his squad but there was no sign of the struggle to come as the hosts dominated the early stages. In the opening minute Andre McCollin broke through Eastbourne’s high defensive line, took it around Sam Reed in the visitors goal, and found Goma Lambu at the back post. However with the goal gaping, Lambu failed to make clean contact and the ball was scrambled off the goal-line.

McCollin continued to create chances, testing Reed from the edge of the box before finding himself through on goal with time and space, before calmly slotting his shot wide of Reed’s right-hand post. Worse misses were yet to come for Ks; Craig Mullen failed to make any firm connection with a Dean Lodge pull-back before Simon Huckle could only head Charles Ofusu-Hene’s cross wide with the goal gaping and the keeper AWOL. Somehow Ks had failed to take the lead as half-time arrived.

Eastbourne had threatened at the end of the first half, and Sonny Cobbs had planted a free-header over the bar, but it only took a minute of the second period for them to shock the hosts. Some neat passing found Richard Greenfield in space 15 yards out. His shot beat Tolfrey, but not the post, however it rebounded straight into the back-pedalling Kieran Murphey who could do nothing to prevent an own goal.

Kingstonian knew they needed to up the ante. McCollin missed another chance, Offusu-Hene and substitute Matt Pattison had shots saved, while Lodge was unfortunate not to win a penalty when he was obviously impeded in the Eastbourne area. Danny Curd had the chance to settle the game for the visitors with 15 minutes to go, but his point-blank header sailed wide. It took Ks less than a minute to punish him. Gary MacDonald’s long-throw into the area was chested down by Huckle into the path of Wade Small. The substitute kept his head down to smash the ball past Reed with aplomb and level the scores.

Still Eastbourne threatened, Nick Fogden forced a wonder save out of Rob Tolfrey, who acrobatically scooped the ball of the goal-line. Again, Small responded immediately. Huckle’s pass found Lodge in space in the area, his shot was saved, but broke to Small who was left with a glaringly empty net, time and a football. He did the rest and the game was won.

Not the best performance from Kingstonian. But they’re in the next round, and ultimately that’s what counts.

Report: Jamie Cutteridge

Published Wednesday 12th September 2018