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Kingstonian 4
McCollin (45', 53', 58', 66')
1 Grays Athletic
Duru (13')

Centre four-ward McCollin

Andre McCollin had made a relatively quiet start to the season, somewhat overshadowed by new signings such as Ryan Moss and Sam Page.

Twice left out of the team to accommodate an extra midfielder he has at times cut a frustrated figure but he thrust himself right back into the limelight against Grays Athletic, netting all four Ks goals against their Essex opposition.

It was the first time a Ks player had scored four in a game since Dean Lodge won FA Cup Player of the Round some five years ago, marking a fitting way for Ks to celebrate Non-League Day.

It had not initially appeared as though the day would bring much cheer to Ks though. Their opening was scrappy and they were relieved to see Jeff Hammond fire wide early on.

Tommy Kavanagh came close for Ks but on fifteen minutes they fell behind. A sloppy pass from Dee Okojie allowed the visitors to send Chuck Duru through on goal and he beat Rob Tolfrey with a neat dinked finish at the near post. A goal down, Ks continued to fail to make an impression on the game and were relieved when Tolfrey saved a powerful effort from Junior Baker.

On 37 minutes though, Kavanagh burst powerfully into the box and forced an excellent fingertip save from Lamar Johnson. This seemed to swing momentum into Ks' direction with Okojie central to two chances just before the break.

The first saw the former Hastings winger tee Daniel Sweeney up only for the youngster to fire over. In first half injury time though he floated a cross onto McCollin's head and the striker headed forcefully past Johnson to level the scores.

The twenty-minute spell after the break will surely be remembered as one of the best in Ks' recent history. They seemed to cut The Blues open at will and from a plethora of chances fired themselves into a 4-1 lead.

It began when Matt Pattison was tripped by Ryan Maxwell. After some Ill-tempered shoving which saw Maxwell and Sweeney both booked, Pattison's free kick found McCollin who beat Johnson at the near post from a tight angle.

McCollin soon completed his hat-trick in fine style. Okojie played him in from deep and he showed great strength to hold off Maxwell before finishing one-on-one and embracing Alan Dowson.

Things got better still on 66 minutes with a remarkable display of quick passing between McCollin, Moss and Pattison. The rapid, one-touch move can have seen little equal on non-league day and finished with McCollin firing past the beleaguered Johnson.

He was in on goal again two minutes later but Johnson used his foot to deny him being the first Ks player to score five in a game since Ks Web's records began. Johnson also did well to get down low to save a Page header.

Dowson eventually withdrew McCollin on 75 minutes to avoid any risk of disciplinary issues when he and Joe Nightingale clashed off the ball. With Moss also withdrawn for Matt Somner, the manager seemed happy for Ks to settle for what they had rather than taking any risks. They saw the last 15 minutes out with ease against their dispirited opposition and maintain their place at the summit of the Ryman League.

Report: Simon Grier

Published Wednesday 12th September 2018