ks striker McCollin limps out of Chelsea defeat
Kingstonian’s friendlies this summer have been uncharacteristically entertaining, including a rousing match against Spurs and a derby win at Sutton.
This game against a Chelsea XI, however, went to pre-season script: a hot, listless afternoon in which a collection of young Premier League reserves with impressive haircuts seemed content to pass the Isthmian side into submission.
But in the end Chelsea were fortunate to sneak a 1-0 win, Billy Clifford’s long-range strike three minutes from time finally giving the European champions’ fans something to cheer.
Not that there were many of them at Kingsmeadow on Saturday, only 500 or so Blues supporters in attendance the day before the Community Shield at Villa Park.
The last time Ks hosted Chelsea was in July 2000. Sammy Winston curled in a consolation goal in front of 4,400 people.
The two clubs have diverged since then and now sit six, rather than four, divisions apart.
The chasm isn’t best expressed by the league ladder, of course. A rather more important change has been the wealth of Roman Abramovich (rumours of whose arrival in Norbiton by helicopter proved unfounded).
Those looking to star-gaze would have to wait till the sun went down, though Chelsea did bring midfielder Josh McEachran, the relative veteran Sam Hutchinson and Eden Hazard’s brother, Thorgan.
The goalscorer Clifford has sat on the bench for Chelsea for European encounters and most of those in blue were established reserve team players with big contracts.
In that context, Ks’ performance was encouraging, especially in the first half when Sam Clayton and Andre McCollin tried their luck more than once.
Worryingly, given Ks search for a Bobby Traynor replacement, McCollin had to depart injured after being crunched by Chelsea keeper Jamal Blackman when attempting to nick the ball into the net.
The game drifted in the sunshine throughout the second period before Clifford beat Rob Tolfrey from 25 yards out.
But for Ks the real Premier League action (Ryman rather than Barclays) starts when the league kicks off at East Thurrock next Saturday before a home match against Harrow on Monday night.