The First Team finally secured their first league win of the season despite now being in April thanks to a superb 4-2 win over Hambledon.
It’s been a bizarre season for Dave Harris and Gary Mitchell’s side, who had won the majority of the league-based cup competition fixtures – many of which came against higher division opposition – but until now, those performances hadn’t translated into the much-disrupted league campaign.
However, the table doesn’t lie and the Golds were rooted to the bottom before the start of play and despite confusion regarding potential relegation, everyone knew how important it was to start winning games.
The home side started well, pinning Hambledon in their own half and looked dangerous every time they broke forward. It didn’t take long to open the scoring, with Ryan Wallis taking control of a scramble in the box to slot under the keeper. The first goal didn’t change the momentum, but the Golds were unable to make their pressure count with a lack of quality in the final pass.
Hambledon were then gift-wrapped the chance to equalise after the referee gave a penalty that was softer than kitten fur. Bruce McPhail simply touched the back of the opposition from a long throw-in and the referee deemed that enough to award a penalty. Not even the Hambledon players understood why it was given. The penalty was converted.
Incredibly, the home side found themselves behind after yet another contentious decision. This time, Dan Way was penalised for a ‘high boot’. However, not all blame can be pinned on the referee as Keens Park failed to deal with the free-kick and as a result, Hambledon took the lead.
The combination of somehow being behind and a sense of injustice had the Golds fired up during the half-time team talk.
Within 10 minutes of the second half, Hambledon thought they had extended their lead. There was a complete break down in communication as James Mullin appeared to have taken a short free-kick when some of the defence weren’t looking. Hambledon subsequently had a clean run on goal and scored. Some of the sleeping defenders protested that Mullin was simply moving the ball forward to where the free-kick should have been taken from, but the jury is out for that… The referee disallowed the goal.
Aside from that, Keens Park continued to be the better side and their pressure was rewarded after the ever-energetic Michael Woods latched on to a booming Dan Way clearance and forced a mix-up at the back, Ryan Wallis pinched the ball off Woods to sweep the ball into the far corner off the post.
Before long it was 3-2. The Hambledon goalkeeper failed to get a proper connection on Seamus Leonard’s free-kick and Ben Wicherek was able to cleverly slot in from a tight angle on his weak foot. A true collector’s item.
The game was becoming stretched as Hambledon chased for an equaliser, but they were unable to again breach the incredible Keens Park defence. James Mullin, who may have been disappointed with the second goal, had his best half in a KPR shirt by dominating his area and showed good handling at crucial moments. Tom Collins, Owen Stutchbury and Dan Way deserve honourable mentions at the back, but the standout performer was Matt Kear, who completely marked Hambledon’s dangerman out of the game.
Gaps were starting to form in Hambledon’s defence and Liam Harrison made the most of it when he lofted the ball over the advancing goalkeeper. He had a similar chance just moments earlier, but that’s not worth mentioning…
There are still five games to go in the league, starting on Wednesday evening when we meet Hambledon again.
“Hey you guys!”