Keens Park Rangers Reserves’ season, given the absence of a number of regular players, got off to a disappointing but less than disastrous start with a 2-1 defeat away to Lightwater United.
The match was, however, more notable as departing manager (and man of the match) Dougie Hamilton’s last game. It was also his first in charge so, as much as Dougie has been an integral part of KPR for many years, he can now claim a shorter management tenure than Sam Allardyce with England or Brian Clough at ‘Dirty’ Leeds United.
Initially faced with a bare eleven, the side was boosted by four new signings who all contributed well. But the lack of known quantities did result in a few playing out of position. This, as much as a more aggressive Lightwater handling the awful pitch much better, contributed to their opening goal after ten minutes.
A hopeful ball over the top led to centre-backs Laurel and Hardy – sorry Chinga and Ladd – both missing their chances to clear until Chinga unceremoniously booted the ball a great distance to concede a corner. It only delayed what looked inevitable in the opening skirmishes a matter of seconds as Lightwater scored after the back eight failed to clear.
As it was the Ressies were relatively happy to go in at half-time the one goal down. Less happy at this point, however, was centre forward Westie, as the new assistant manger Tigger shuffled the pack so new signings Henry and Ollie got a good run out.
KPR certainly improved and grew into the half. But as much as the pressure was building some early season fatigue led to a final tactical change prior to a KPR corner that saw Westie return and Connor Reeves drop into midfield. Rather than a tactical masterstroke it was, perhaps, the confusion and delay created by Tigger’s rather spontaneous decision that led to KPR’s equaliser?
A seemingly comatose Lightwater defence allowed Reeves’ corner to eventually reach Ryan Mitchell inside the far post, who gleefully celebrated the ball hitting the roof of the net rather than go over the bar from a yard out.
The best football from this point was all coming from KPR and it took some good keeping to deny efforts from Westie and KPR captain Nixon. And yet, despite the best team set-up having finally been put in place, Lightwater were never out of the game and they scored what turned out to be the winner from an unnecessary free kick with some ten minutes of the match left.
Try as they might KPR couldn’t create the clear chances they’d managed earlier and Lightwater held onto their lead. Defeat was, in the end, far more palatable than the ropey post-match beer at the home side’s local.
The new faces had demonstrated great promise and appear keen to become regular fixtures in the club. But as much as the new faces had made their mark the day ended with the return of an old one. Welcome back James O’Shea!
Keens Parks Rangers is a Guildford based football club and we are always looking for new players and sponsorship opportunities. Get in touch with us through our website or our social channels.