Surrey County Premier Football League
Keens Park Rangers 1 Royal Holloway 1
Goals: Luke Mitchell
Man-of-the-match: Rory Cornelius
Having tonked Royal Holloway in the cup a fortnight ago, the visitors had a plan to avoid a similar fate in the league. For the most part, this involved booting hat-trick hero Bulldog about the pitch. And in one respect, at least, it worked – they didn’t lose, but drew against a side missing key figures Doug and Bruce.
Nonetheless, KPRs strength in depth – ably demonstrated by the high-flying ressies making no less than nine changes this week to ensure everyone is getting a fair crack – ensured a strong starting eleven and bench. And yet, while the home side started brightly, they were undone by a simple ball over the top that set their number nine free. Kieran in goal could have possibly swept up the ensuing mess. But, having stayed on his line, he was bypassed by a square ball (yeah, I know) that was tapped in from close range.
It could have been worse moments later had the opposition player not shanked a great opportunity wide of the goal. While this was disconcerting for the supporters, they were equally concerned about some of the ‘tackles’ being inflicted on, most commonly, Bulldog. One in particular ought to have invoked a yellow, but the referee appeared reluctant to spend his Sunday on paperwork.
He didn’t appear too keen on penalties either after man-of-the-match Rory was clattered in the box. That said, rather than intimidate, it was good to see the KPR players rise to the (frequently mistimed) challenge, and Mike Wicherek forced an excellent save out of their keeper.
Frustratingly, he produced another before half-time in palming a strong shot from Dan Way onto the bar. It may have proven costly had the visitors not missed another chance of their own, but the referee finally (we think?) had enough of the conspicuous attention Bulldog was getting. Ultimately, it was a poor half, but the second looked more promising from the start.
After Luke placed a good chance over the bar, the best football of the match led to a deserved equaliser. Beginning with some strong and skilful play from Dan Way, Simmo slotted an incisive pass to Mikey inside the box who popped it off first time towards Luke who then allowed the ball to roll across himself before turning his man and drilling it low into the net.
Having got back into the match the KPR players were unable to repeat the feat. The odd incisive pass notwithstanding, the final touch invariably let the side down. Seeing that matters needed refreshing, manager Gaz brought on Courage for Woodsy and he almost created a good chance with his first involvement.
If a defender intervened on that occasion, Luke forced another two good saves from the keeper. The substitutions continued. But, as much as the supporters were amused when Jack replaced Danny all were breathing a sigh of relief after some sloppy defending created a one-on-one situation for the visitors. This time, however, Kieran was off his line swiftly and blocked a premature strike well outside of his own box.
Panic over, there was still time for KPR to create chances. Archie headed over from close range and Lucas had an effort well blocked. Bulldog had a good effort tipped round the post and KPR would surely have scored from the resulting corner were it not for an acrobatic back heel from a defender that put the ball over the bar yet again.
That, sadly, was about as exciting as it got and a rather scrappy game was summed up by Kieran getting booked for gobbing off (he had been warned). Given the game could have gone either way, a draw was a fair result. But future opponents’ may well need a better plan if they are to overcome KPR at Fortress Pyrford.