Small saves best for last as Ks win at Bognor
Kingstonian assistant coach Mark Hams labelled his side's 1-0 win at Bognor Regis Town on Saturday as their best of the season.
The faded coastal resort of Bognor Regis has seen better days, but Ks fans certainly enjoyed their trip to the seaside, returning from sunny Sussex with a dramatic three points that lifts the club to fourth in the league.
A sizeable travelling contingent had Nyewood Lane’s covered stand rocking after Wade Small, a late substitute, finished neatly with just three minutes remaining.
Hams immediately called it one of the wins of the season.
“Let's not make any mistake about it, that is up there with Lowestoft away, Whitehawk away – whatever that proves to be worth - it's a good, good result," he said.
"Bognor are [challenging for the playoffs] for a reason, they're not in a false position, they're a phenomenal footballing side.”
It was a positive end to another difficult week after the announcement that the club's oldest supporter, Dorothy Hall, died on Tuesday, aged 92.
The Rocks’ talented front four, including former Crystal Palace striker Ashley-Paul Robinson, passed the ball with customary pace and confidence, but this K’s team is now made of sterner stuff at the back, Ian Gayle and Tom Bird excelling again on a heavy pitch.
After a fine save from Rob Tolfrey kept the scores level, the away side grew stronger in the second period, with Lewis Taylor an influential presence in midfield and Andre McCollin harrying the Rocks’ backline at every opportunity.
With all the excitement over Paul Vines’ return to the club, Small has been forced to contemplate a spell on the bench.
His ninth goal of the season may change that.
After being put through by a perfectly angled Taylor pass, Small burst into the area and, with defender and goalkeeper blocking the way, opened up his body to curl the ball into the far corner.
Hams praised McCollin, whose hard running forced the error that led to Taylor’s opportunity to pass.
“To do it on a pitch like this, you don't know how hard it is, to try to turn and run in different directions when it's so soft under foot. Andre deserves a lot of credit for that.
"It was like dirty dancing at times, with people grabbing hold of each other and trying to push each other out the way.”
It could prove a season-defining moment.
Whitehawk remain 13 points clear but Ks have two games in hand and the FA is expected to rule on Tuesday whether last year’s abandoned game at the big-spending league leaders, when the floodlights failed with Ks 2-0 up with only 10 minutes left, has to be replayed.
If Ks are in fact awarded the three points, we’re in for a fascinating run-in for what is arguably the best squad at Kingsmeadow for a decade.
Ks travel to Dulwich Hamlet on Tuesday for the much delayed Isthmian League Cup quarter-final before hosting Cray Wanderers on Saturday and in-form Concord Rangers next Monday night.