Kingston University men’s first team – 0
University of Brighton men’s second team – 2
KU’s men’s football first team were knocked out in the second round of the cup on Wednesday after losing 2-0 to the University of Brighton’s seconds.
On a day when all odds were defied across the Atlantic, the Cougars were unable to pull off a similar upset against opponents who are six leagues above them.
Kingston fell behind in the 19th minute when an under-pressure Tom Gurney was unable to deal with a Brighton free kick, the keeper fumbling the ball into the path of the opposition who gratefully headed home.
The away team doubled their lead nine minutes later when KU gave Brighton a penalty which defender Stav Sendonaris, seemingly trying to burst the net, rifled down the middle of Gurney’s goal.
Kingston felt hard done by with the penalty decision and also felt that there may have been a foul on Gurney in the build up to the first goal.
Captain Sam Pledger said: “The ref looked identical to Roy Hodgson and he was about as good at his job as he was, too. His performance was absolutely awful.
“The game was stop-start and, to be fair, I spoke to their captain and we both agreed that he was equally bad for both teams.”
A frustrating first half
After an opening 30 minutes that had left the hosts with a mountain to climb, Pledger appeared to be through on goal after central midfielder Mo Sesay had played him in down the right but the midfielder was pulled back by the last defender.
An infuriated Pledger gestured at the referee for a foul which would have likely meant a red card for the defender. Instead, the linesman had already put his flag up for offside to the disbelief of Pledger and his team mates.
Pledger said: “He’s got my shirt so how can I be offside? But the refs aren’t interested in anything I have to say.”
Kingston, who were coming into the game off the back of last week’s 1-0 win over St Mary’s , got off to a quick start and had a chance in the first minute through central midfielder Amani Nyelia whose shot from distance forced the Brighton goalkeeper into an early save.
Nyelia’s shot proved to be as good as it got for the Cougars in the first half as it turned out to be their only shot on target.
Striker Gurpz Tatla and winger Hadi Habboushi both had shots that they blazed over while good work down the right wing from Habboushi and Pledger frequently led to crosses that just could not find a blue shirt on the end of them.
“We don’t commit enough players in the box which is why we haven’t scored enough goals this year. It is something we need to address and improve upon,” said Pledger.
A lack of goals
Kingston, like in the first half, came out from the break quick and Pledger, who had now switched to the left wing, was again causing his defender problems.
KU had a good chance from a corner on the left when a Sesay delivery found the head of Greg Potts but the defender could only head wide.
Kingston were again frustrated by the referee in the 56th minute as Tatla was adjudged to have pushed a Brighton defender in the back before then being verbally warned by the referee after sticking out his hand from the free kick despite making no contact with the ball.
Tatla then had two good headed chances to pull KU a goal back, glancing his first just wide of the goalkeeper’s post from an accurate Pledger cross before forcing a save out of the keeper in the 71st minute, after getting on the end of an in-swinging cross from Sesay.
After a very good 30 minutes from Kingston in the second half, where they looked a lot more more dangerous and meaningful with their play, the team began to tire as Brighton kept possession of the ball in the Kingston half albeit without really threatening to add a third.
KU, whose injuries had already forced them into making two changes to the starting line-up prior to kick-off, lost Pledger to injury with ten minutes to go as the midfielder came off after picking up a knock to his ankle.
The team suffered a further scare in the last minute of the game, as Tatla went down holding his leg and had to be seen to by the on-field paramedic who confirmed that the striker had injured his calf, although was unsure whether it was cramp or a tear.
The team will be hoping it is the former as they have been short of goals this season and will not want to lose their main striker who is the team’s top scorer with two goals.
Despite the difference in leagues between the two teams, the Cougars gave as good as they got for much of the game and at times were the better team, but were undone by two goals in the space of ten minutes which they would argue should not have even stood.
Potts said: “You really couldn’t fault the effort or work rate today, I thought everyone battled and worked hard but decisions went against us in what was an otherwise scrappy game.
“It’s a shame to go out in the second round but it’ll be good for us to focus on the league.”
Kingston, who sit top of the South Eastern 4C League after an unbeaten start to their campaign, are next in action at home against Imperial College London on November 16.