Keens Park Rangers handed out a real education to the league leaders, University of Surrey in a thrilling 3-2 win. Competition for places is a new theme for Keens Park with changes being made to both squads as Vic Hamilton and Tommy Newell were called up to the firsts after a string of fine performances for the reserves.
After a week off for the reserves it was clear that the team were raring to go, making a high tempo start to the match, with Ryan Midgley applying pressure to the oppositions back four from the moment the whistle blew. The Golds were pressing hard and playing some attractive football but were lacking in the final ball, Stephen Kemp was causing problems early on and the pressure paid off when Captain James Nixon turned & fired from outside the box in to the bottom left hand corner, leaving the keeper helpless to stop hiseffort. A well-deserved lead for KPR had the fans on the side-lines optimistic about the end result. The lead could have been extended to 2 or 3 but Ryan Midgley & Stephen Kemp unfortunately squandered their chances.
The early tempo could not be maintained and after taking the lead the Golds dropped off and allowed the University side to start to come back into the game. KPR cheaply conceded possession in their own half and saw the opposition spread the ball to the left, where the winger cut inside and fired across the face to level the match at 1-1. It was a cruel blow as KPR had been the better side. Things turned from bad to worse as top of the table took the lead and KPR went in at half time 1-2 down.
A forced changed due to injury was made at the half as Jake Ladd came on to partner Matt Kear at CB replacing Ryan Mitchel. KPR struggled in the opening exchanges and a couple of smart saves from Tom Coles kept them in the game. and although the University side failed to create many clear cut chances, did manage to keep the Golds penned back in their half. Radu Burlactu made way for Connor Reeves and Ryan Midgely for Scott Whittaker, moving Stephen Kemp up top.
It proved to be a great managerial masterstroke, Kemp and Nixon applied fierce pressure to the back four and the pressure paid off as James Nixon went through on goal and slotted a second to level the score line. The fans could feel the tide turning, top of league felt the pressure and were overplaying at the back, a winner looked on cards… Then in the dying moments Kempy managed to win possession back and send Nixon through once more and in heroic, true Captain’s style,hit home the winner and completed his hat trick to send the KPR faithful into the Quiz night with smiles all round.
It was a fantastic team performance with everyone giving their all to the game and running tirelessly for the full 90 minutes. This well-deserved win sends KPR up the table and a clear message to the league, we fight the end!