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Cray Wanderers 1
3 Kingstonian
Small (80'), McCollin (88' pen), Pattison (90')

Kingstonian wander on with victory at Cray

Kingstonian came away from Hayes Lane with three valuable away points following a hard working and ultimately accomplished performance.

Having endured a difficult first half, when they had Rob Tolfrey to thank for going in level at half time, they produced a strong second half performance and were rewarded with goals from Small, McCollin and Pattinson.

The match was over 20 minutes late starting as the referee was caught in heavy traffic. As if this wasn’t bad enough, it meant an extra 20 minutes of truly appalling pre-match music. This clearly didn’t put off the home side who started strongly, making full use of a pitch almost the same size as Wales.

As Cray probed the Kingstonian back line, Tolfrey had to remain alert as, twice in four minutes, he had to rush off his line and smother one on one chances. He then produced the save of the game as he flung himself at full stretch to his right to deny Stavrinou.

Kingstonian finally managed to create a decent chance just before half time as Murphy shot just over following clever work from Aaron Goode, who did very well in returning a half cleared corner.

The second half was a very different affair as conditions worsened and the Cray’s defence struggled to cope with a swirling wind and a rejuvenated partnership between Small and McCollin. Playing very much as a pair they created chance after chance. Having already done very well to smother a Small chance, Cray’s keeper Walker was not so lucky a second time, as the striker fired under him from 12 yards after latching onto a McCollin flick on in the seventy sixth minute.

As Cray pressed in search of an equaliser, they were unable to play with the composure of the first half, and left themselves vulnerable to the counter attack. Indeed, it was not long before Kingstonian added to their lead as McCollin was brought down as he reached a through ball fractionally before Walker. The penalty was convincingly despatched low past the goalkeeper.

It was a bit of a surprise that Cray pulled a goal back in the ninetieth minute. With the Kingstonian defence having been relatively untroubled in the second half, it took a Jack Clark wonder strike from 30 yards to reduce the deficit.

With virtually the final move of the game Kingstonian restored their two goal advantage. A long ball to Lodge found him in acres of space down the left and as he advanced on the keeper, he drew in the defence before calmly passing the ball across the area for Pattison to finish with aplomb.

The defensive improvement continues as the self belief grows with three wins on the trot now. Whilst it was noticeable that Nathan Green is growing in confidence at left back, what is really evident is the all round work rate of the team. The midfield really put in a shift, as was typified by Dean Lodge racing back and nicking the ball away on the edge of his own area in the first half. Small and McCollin seem to have struck up a much better understanding and also worked hard in closing the ball down. Kingstonian are maybe not the free-scoring team of earlier in the season, but the brand of football they are playing now is a better base from which to sustain a promotion push.

Report: Peter Allan

Published Wednesday 12th September 2018