From Franceville to Sudbury
By Kingstonian FC
Taimour Lay notices little change in temperature as he watches K's give up another lead.
Plus ça change. This was my first K’s game since Boxing Day. It followed a familiar 2016 sort of pattern. Neat passing in several passages. Ryan Moss. Alan Inns heading the ball. Joe Turner racing around on the left-wing. Ryan Moss. Half-chances created. Half-chances missed. Occasional defensive fear. Ryan Moss. A lead. But an always precarious lead. Dropping deep as a second-half wears on. An equaliser. Bad opposition emboldened by K’s caution. 1-1. A feeling of points dropped. Being mid-table. Very mid-table. Perfectly mid-table. 12th of 24. Equidistantly perched betwixt top and bottom.
There were some changes (for this part-time fan, at any rate). Lewis Taylor, with flowing Bullard-esque golden locks, rampaged around midfield, somehow occupying centre and periphery all at the same time. It felt like the summer of 2013. Or whenever it was the last time I saw him. Someone called Shaun McAuley, on loan from Oxford City, looked like Peter Dean on skill-steroids. Substitute Evans Kouassi supplied the pacy wing-play in the final moments, with Youssef Bamba absent.
So, some differences. But also a comforting consistency of style and result as the cold bit into my defenceless toes. The edge of being effective, the precipice of productivity, Kingstonian provided the crowd with a respectable, meaningless 1-1 draw in the sometime snow.
There’s something about plastic pitches that encourages tepid atmosphere and training-ground tempo. The smell of grass is a necessary ingredient for matchday intensity. AFC Sudbury keeper Marcus Garnham, an old favourite of the K’s travelling support since his days at Bury Town, took time out in the first-half to tell us he hated diving on it because it “ripped the hair off his legs”.
This may explain his belated attempt to stop Sean Bonnett-Johnson’s shot just before half-time – although a slight deflection helped the 20-yard plastic-scudding effort onto the inside of the post and into the net.
Garnham also informed us of the differences between his two pairs of gloves, his work as a PE teacher, life in Ipswich and his frustration with London property prices.
While this all amounted to a cunning plan to ensure a distracted concession of a second goal, Garnham instead produced save after save in the second-half, from Moss, Taylor and Turner. Taylor then pulled a superb chance wide after Garnham had uncharacteristically palmed the ball back into a danger area.
As K’s eventually dropped deeper, the relegation-threatened Suds sensed the chance. James Baker, who Garnham informed us can play in 5 different positions, waltzed past three defenders and smashed the ball high past Rob Tolfrey.
Ten minutes still remained. But K’s settled for a point, perhaps as a result of recent late awayday traumas.
Having started the day in 12th, we ended the day in… 12th. Plus ça change.
AFC Sudbury: Marcus Garnham, Tyler French, Aidan Austin, Joseph Wright, Ryan Henshaw, Adam Tann, Liam Wales, Sam Clarke, James Baker, Craig Parker, Danny Crow.
Subs: Alfie Carroll (for Tyler French, 38m), Jack Wilkinson, Sam Bantick (for Craig Parker, 36m), Oliver Peters, Callum Robinson.
Kingstonian: Rob Tolfrey, Aaron Goode, Bruce Hogg, Lee O'Leary, Sam Page, Alan Inns, Sam Page, Sean Bonnett-Johnson, Lewis Taylor, Ryan Moss, Shaun McAuley, Joe Turner.
Subs: Peter Dean, Tom Derry (for Ryan Moss, 85m), Evans Kouassi (for Shaun McAuley, 78m), Pelayo Pico Gomez.
Goals: Sean Bonnett-Johnson (38m, 0-1), James Baker (73m, 1-1)