Almost

Surrey Senior Cup, 2nd Round – Kingstonian FC v Corinthian Casuals FC
Monday, 3rd December 2012, 7.45pm
Kingsmeadow
Distance 3 miles, Attendance 168
Arriving in the town of kings, hypnotic lights guide your path – from strange distant lands – to the ultimate luncheon and retail nirvana (my daughter would have you believe). Of course, if (like me) the thought of battling with the gift-grabbing hordes turns your stomach, those lights hold a far scarier conclusion but, looking to the East (well, East South-East) a saviour is near.
121203 SSC 2R Kingstonian v Corinthian Casuals (16)bAbove the meadow of the kings, a hypnotic glow hangs in the sky, drawing the more discerning to almost certain happiness, almost. Often football is a game of far too many almosts, and this match was no different. Seventy-five minutes of almost excitement, as two likeable sides of some great standing battled in earnest to almost string two passes together. Off the pitch thankfully – for almost seventy-five minutes at least – things were far more appealing; for almost everyone in attendance there were highlights to be had.
Looking around the shop, bar and stands, I was surrounded by friendly faces greeting one another like long lost friends. I’ve championed the Kingsmeadow ambiance frequently but, the goodwill is also something I’ve almost come to expect from both tonight’s clubs. Corinthian Casuals; a club steeped in history and principals, and their hosts Kingstonian; a club steeped in history, monarchy and a couple of recent Trophies.

121203 SSC 2R Kingstonian v Corinthian Casuals (9)b

121203 SSC 2R Kingstonian v Corinthian Casuals (32)b
Whilst at 8.38 I was tucking into a cup of body-warming Bovril, in 838AD Cyninges tun was first recorded when King Egbert of Wessex had a little chin-wag with Ceolnoth, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Three hundred years later the town’s name was almost recognisable, and the coronation list of Kings beginning with the letter E had reached double figures. Centuries on, a petite woman had won “Rear of the Year” for pretending to be filmed growing spuds in the next town, whilst another Archbishop had built a nice pad up the river which his rather rotund monarch would keep a couple of wives in. As incredible as this all sounds it’s certainly more note-worthy than the first seventy-five minutes even though it was played out with a nice yellow ball (Another more interesting fact is that 75 is a pentagonal pyramidal number… no?… I’ll get back to the action).
121203 SSC 2R Kingstonian v Corinthian Casuals (14)bWith neither side’s formation based on either pyramids or triangles – and the Ks laden with new recruits for their defensive predicament – Casuals had the first and last shots of note. The former was a tame Danny Green effort which Louis Bragg easily dealt with, while up the other end the visiting centre-backs height advantage comfortably dealt with any long balls threw at them. The match was untidy and pedestrian in equal measures but, the fans still seemed upbeat in both complaining and socialising.
On twenty minutes Danny Green broke the duck for the visitors. Once the celebrations died down the game reverted to type, the visiting fans returned to chanting at passing trains (which it appears is not influenced by the railway line visible from the ground they are in) and the ref ruled out both Ks opportunities of the half. The first, Wade Small’s goal was deemed offside after he’d been put through by Sam Clayton, and afterwards a very late whistle brought back Dean Lodge who was clean through on goal.
121203 SSC 2R Kingstonian v Corinthian Casuals (47)I’m not sure playing Sunshine Of Your Love was that apt but – with the winners at home to Sutton Utd or Whyteleafe in the next round, then home to Molesey or Colliers Wood, then away in semi-final to someone else… – it was clear that after the musical interlude the second half would need to perk up a bit (which it didn’t,  immediately).
Subs came and went whilst the home support chanted “What’s it like to see a crowd?” at their amiable guests and – after a pinpoint Dave Hodges cross – James Cottee collided with team-mate Bashiru Alimi, sending the ball wide when Casuals could’ve, and should’ve, gone two up. Then, with almost seventy five minutes up, both teams started to play with urgency.
Ks’ Craig Mullen came on to great relief of those around me, Cottee’s shot went just over, Goma Lambu and Wade Small got in great positions without testing the Danny Bracken, and then a fine Lambu effort was tipped over by said Casuals’ keeper. With full-time fast approaching Casuals cleared off the line, but soon couldn’t stop a Saheed Sankoh’s effort. It was all square with two minutes left and in contrast to what I was expecting, the Ks 121203 SSC 2R Kingstonian v Corinthian Casuals (59)breally did, almost win. Mullen pulled the ball superbly back to Small, whose fierce shot Bracken just managed to tip over. The resulting quickly taken corner was cleared, Casuals broke up field and scored but, the ref had already blown for a penalty. As Jamie Byatt restored the visitors lead from the spot, Ks again pushed forward but were held at bay by some goal area pinball and a Small shot over.
Back in the car – desperate for heat to warm my body and dry the foot that had just stepped in a deep puddle – I wondered why we’d waited so long for the game to spring into action. For those final fifteen minutes the game ebbed and flowed with growing intensity as these two fine sides pushed to make history. For those final fifteen minutes the crowd was absorbed. For fifteen minutes the players – in Warholeque reverence – strived for fame and the chance to be crowned kings of all Surrey.
Liking both these sides, if this is the town from where kings go on to be crowned, that would be apt, almost.

121203 SSC 2R Kingstonian v Corinthian Casuals (7)

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