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Kingstonian 5
Hammond (20'), Drage (69'), Pinney (99'), McCollin (105'), Henry (115')
3 Romford
Barry (7'), Imbert (34'), Hart (94')

K’s Outlast Romford in Epic FA Cup Tie

It took 210 minutes, two games, five goals and a heap of injuries, but Kingstonian finally overcame Romford, securing a third qualifying round tie against Eastbourne Borough after a 5-3 win over a battling Romford side.

It was a quintessential evening of non-league football featuring scrappy goals, individual brilliance, tough tackling, dirty tactics, referees treating players for cramp and managers nipping out during extra time for a sneaky cigarette: the magic of the cup™. The underdogs from Ryman League North took the lead three times on the night, showing much more attacking intent than at Ship Lane two days previously. Ben Dudzinski travelled down from university in Durham to replace the injured Rob Tolfrey in goal, while Alex Addai and Matt Drage also came into the side as the injuries sustained in the first game took their toll.

Six minutes into the game, Romford took the lead. Matt Toms long free kick was not dealt with by the Ks’ defense, the ball fell to Jack Barry and the visitor’s skipper made no mistake, smashing past Dudzinski. Ks responded by going on the front foot immediately. Josh Casey’s deflected shot looped over Aaron Omand in the Romford goalie, only to be cleared off the line. A moment of brilliance from Alex Addai drew Ks level. His inch-perfect cross found the head of Elvis Hammond who made no mistake. The hosts threatened to run away with the game, attacking Romford with pace but they were soom behind again. Another long ball was poorly dealt with, and Ryan Imbert was able to turn Sam Page and fire past Dudzinski to restore Romford’s lead going in to half time.

The second half saw Ks dominate possession but struggled to create any clear cut chances as they were frustrated by dogged defending and stifling tactics until Matt Drage created something out of nothing. Chris Henry and Nathan Pinney’s introduction gave Ks a much more attacking shape, and as the ball came to Drage on the halfway line, he burst forward into space striking a swerving shot low from 30 yards which Omand could only parry into the net. The game suddenly opened up, Omand redeemed himself with a fine save from Pinney as his area was peppered with crosses from Addai and Henry. It was Toms who came closest to winning it for Romford as his audacious lob from the halfway line was just about touched onto the crossbar by Dudzinski.

Extra time began with the Romford manager joining home fans in the smoking area, and as he made his way back to the dugout his side re-established their lead. Eddie Hart was afforded acres of space in the penalty area and he made no mistake, powering a header home. Again Ks struck back, and once again it took a moment of Addai brilliance, as a similarly fine cross was dispatched by Pinney.

Pinney then turned provider as his inswinging cross was nodded home by the unusually quiet Andre McCollin, giving Ks their first lead of the tie, 195 minutes into it. Romford were finally put to bed deep into the second period of extra time as Chris Henry beat the otherwise impeccable Romford offside trap to dink home the final goal of an incredible evening.

Match report by Jamie Cutteridge.

Published Wednesday 12th September 2018