Kingstonian 1, Grays Athletic 0
KINGSTONIAN at last got their Ryman League Premier Division season under way at Kingsmeadow on Tuesday night when a much-needed, if fortuitous, victory saw them leap straight out of the relegation places into 20th position (writes MARK MURPHY).
After having their first five league games postponed because of the suspension placed on them due to the failure of their original Creditors Voluntary Arrangement, Ks were relieved when the FA approved on Monday the league's decision to lift the ban following the approval of a second CVA.
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A crowd of only 466 saw a scrappy game decided by captain Dave Clarke's first competitive goal for the club,a comical affair which came almost straight from a Grays corner shortly after half-time.
Ks rode their luck and owed their victory to a combination of woodwork, goalkeeper Lance Key and the referee's reluctance to give a penalty.
Manager Steve Sedgeley opted to play a three centre-back formation and, as had happened pre-season, Ks struggled in defence. But it was a new look' back line, with debuts being given to young Jamie Leacock on the right and ex-Hampton player Matt Flitter in the centre. Another debutant' was veteran Phil Wingfield in his fourth spell with the club and he capably patrolled the left-hand side.
The midfield would have been over-run but for the hard work of man-of-the-match Clarke.Craig Lewington, son of Watford manager Ray, and Liam Collins never quite got
to grips with the game, which left the front two of Tim Sills and young Greg Ball feeding on scraps.
Ks nearly took the lead, though, when Sills' ninth minute header was cleared off the line by Grays right-back Steve Robinson.
Meanwhile, the visitors were denied as Key tipped Tony Lock's spectacular bicycle kick over the bar and Stafford Browne rattled the right-hand post after Lock had been hauled back in
the area. When Browne did get the ball in the net two minutes later he was denied by a linesman's flag.
Within five minutes of the re-start Ks went ahead through a goal which owed more to Billy Smart's circus than any coaching manual. Grays played a short
corner to no-one in particular on the edge of the box and Lewington reacted first to drive the ball downfield. Under pressure from Ball, left-back Alan Keeper made a hash of his attempted back pass to Mel Capleton, whose hurried clearance clattered into Ball and Clarke slid the ball in from 10 yards. Sills then hit the top of the bar with a speculative lob.
It will be a testing next few days for Ks. A home game tomorrow against Hayes, relegated from the Conference last season, is followed next Tuesday by a visit to current table-toppers St. Albans. Then, tomorrow week, comes the eagerly-awaited local derby against bitter rivals Sutton.
Kingstonian: Key, Jamie Leacock, Thurgood (Darren White, 90), Hustwick, Flitter,Lewington, Collins, Clarke, Sills, Ball, Wingfield (Green, 82). Subs not used: Adrian Jones (GK), Pinnock, Alimi.