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Kingstonian 2
McCollin (30' pen), Moss (49')
2 Harrow Borough
Lucien (79', 90')

Harrowing times

If Kingstonian narrowly miss out on the playoffs, or even the title, when they look back at the season they'll struggle to find any points dropped more gallingly than these two.

Cruising to victory 2-0 up against the ten men of Harrow Borough, their wasteful finishing and ponderous defending cost them dear as they allowed the visitors to snatch an unlikely point at the death.

Such was Ks' dominance that complacency permeated throughout Kingsmeadow as Ks led 2-0. In the players, with Ryan Moss and Daniel Sweeney firing over-ambitious longshots into the empty blue abyss that stands in place of the KRE when team-mates were better placed; in the management, with Alan Dowson pairing Andre McCollin with substitute Javlon Campbell to push for more goals rather than seeking to maintain possession and kill the game; and even in the fans, who greeted Moss' goal to put Ks 2-0 up with a polite smattering of applause, by contrast to the elated bundle that greeted his strike against Canvey Island the previous week.

Dowson will no doubt be enraged by the manner of the defeat. He reworked what was the league's best defence following a bad showing at Hampton, but veteran Sean Ray and midfielder Josh Casey did not help to shore up a backline that was run ragged near the end by the pace of Simeon Akinola and the precise finishing of Shaun Lucien.

Eleven minutes from time Lucien beat Rob Tolfrey from 20 yards, with a low strike that curled in off the post. Ks continued to attack though, with Andre McCollin and Charlie Knight both firing wide. When a Ks corner broke down, Akinola gave them what should have been enough of a scare, firing wide after running most the length of the pitch on the counter.

Yet still Ks were unable to kill the game and eventually Lucien was played in behind a flat-footed backline deep into injury time, slotting past Tolfrey to secure a draw that had looked so unlikely just eleven minutes previously.

Yet even having conceded two goals at home, Ks should have scored enough goals to win. Their dominance of territory and possession was complete but both the final ball and the finishing were poor.

Sweeney headed a corner over in the 17th minute and Tommy Kavanagh sliced a great chance from a Knight cross when he should have scored. Moss diverted the wide-bound effort into the net, but from an offside position.

No miss was worse than Dee Okojie's in the 23rd minute. Adam Louth blocked his shot from a Knight cross but with goalkeeper Billy Granger committed, he poked the rebound wide with an open goal at his mercy.

The breakthrough came on 28 minutes when McCollin outmuscled Danny Leech to a long ball and the defender then tripped him as he set to shoot. A penalty and a red card were both inevitable and McCollin sent Granger the wrong way from the spot to give Ks the lead.

Harrow had a chance when Oliver Hawkins latched on to an underhit Ray backpass but Tolfrey raced out to deny him. Ray grazed the crossbar at the right end just before the break with a header from a corner.

Just after the break Moss scored the goal that should have sealed the three points, meeting a Knight cross that Granger misjudged with a tap-in at the far post. The goal was his 14th of the season and he should have added a 15th on the hour mark but chipped over when played through by McCollin.

Aaron Goode had the next scoring chance when Granger was unconvincing in pushing out a Knight cross, but he slammed his volley into the side-netting. Harrow might have been down to nine shortly afterwards when McCollin tangled with Anthony Maissiat as he headed in on goal but referee Paul Johnson surprisingly decided there had been no foul.

Corners continued to be wasted and McCollin and substitute Campbell were unable to latch on to the long passes hit in their direction and eventually Lucien's first strike set off a panic that should not have been allowed to happen.

Ks had gone since August - ironically, the away game at Harrow - without dropping any points at all against the teams in the bottom half of the table. It was a remarkable record which was never going to last indefinitely but they have now dropped points twice in a row with two abysmal performances. Alan Dowson will need to quickly reinstall confidence in the new year if this season is not to go off the rails for Ks in the way the last one did.

Report: Simon Grier

Published Wednesday 12th September 2018