Raynes Park Vale match report
match report by Simon Grier
The really sad thing is that it wasn’t even a surprise.
Or, perhaps more accurately, it wasn’t a surprise that Raynes Park Vale won. But even the most pessimistic of Ks fans, rocked by one abysmal performance after another in recent weeks, probably didn’t quite anticipate the manner of this defeat.
2-0 down after ten minutes and eventually beaten 4-1, Ks were comprehensively outplayed, outclassed and outfought by their Combined Counties neighbours. Vale are, at least for now, two divisions below Ks. They also made ten changes from their side that played on Saturday, some of them coming in from the Under 18s. Ks, on the other hand, played their strongest available team – or at least what’s supposed to pass as it.
We’ve become accustomed to going into games expecting to lose during horrific collapses in form. No wins in ten under Williams (2017). One in 18 under Dynan, Brennan and Harris (2019). Another ten game winless streak under Bird (2022). All those sides drove fans to despair.
But make no mistake: with the lack of both quality and effort on show, this, as both a performance and a result, was the absolute nadir of the last 20 years at Kingstonian.
It took only six minutes for the home side to take the lead. Brad Sweeney’s cross was cleared only as far as Jordan Gallagher and he powered past Rob Tolfrey from inside the penalty area.
Three minutes later it was 2-0 and game over. Sweeney was again the provider and this time Tom Barnes was unmarked in a quite ridiculous amount of space to beat Tolfrey with the freest of headers.
Danny Dudley did get a header on target for Ks after a Lee Lewis free kick but Vale continued to dominate the first half. Gallagher headed wide, having again been allowed far too much space by Ks, and Sweeney shot narrowly over from distance.
The deserved third came shortly before half time, Barnes making it a brace on debut by blasting past Tolfrey from the edge of the box after another poor clearance from Ks.
The second half wasn’t as bad, with Tyrese Owen – Ks’ player of the season by some distance – and Iker Noguera Leon both making positive impacts from the bench. The latter came close twice early in the half after some nice pieces of skill.
But Vale remained the better side, with Dan Moody firing wide and then former Ks man Aaron Lamont making it four with another fine strike from distance. Tolfrey kept a fifth at bay with a good save from Tom Harland-Goddard.
As at Lewes, Ks had a short and pointless flurry of chances at the end with the game well gone. Michael Abnett headed over and Sean Bonnett-Johnson had an effort deflected wide before Ks eventually ended one of their miserable statistical runs (six hours without a goal).
With the last kick of the game, Lewis lashed the ball from the edge of the box and it took a nasty deflection through the ‘keeper’s legs. Almost immediately, the referee blew time on a game that Ks fans had low expectations but somehow sunk even below them.
Still, there are two crumbs of comfort after last night’s debacle. One is that we’re only just in the relegation zone and there’s still time for the new manager to take a new broom to this misfiring squad. The other is that the club still has some passionate fans left if only we can be given something to cheer about.
Raynes Park Vale: James Smith, Archie Harland-Goddard, Nathan Lewis, Reece Hannigan, Brad Sweeney, Jordan Gallagher, Aaron Lamont, Jake Gallagher, Tom Barnes, Henry Gunray, Jaan Stanley.
Subs: Jermaine Green (for Jake Gallagher, 55m), Tom Harland-Goddard (for Jaan Stanley, 73m), Dan Moody (for Brad Sweeney, 55m), Lachlan Mann (for Archie Harland-Goddard, 62m), Coby Acquaye (for Tom Barnes, 82m). NB: Some subs' timings are guesses as the web guru was having a snit and missed some of them...
Kingstonian: Rob Tolfrey, Isaiah Jones, Dwight Pascal, O'Shane Stewart, Danny Dudley, Michael Abnett, Lee Lewis, Sean Bonnett-Johnson, Great Evans, Kwesi Ntim, Jacob Bancroft.
Subs: Iker Noguera Leon (for Great Evans, 45m first half), Marco Haigh (for O'Shane Stewart, 61m), Tyrese Owen (for Kwesi Ntim, HT), Junior Mboglem (for Dwight Pascal, 27m).
Goal scorers: Jordan Gallagher (6m, 1-0), Tom Barnes (9m, 2-0), Tom Barnes (43m, 3-0), Aaron Lamont (72m, 4-0), Lee Lewis (90m, 4-1)