Hayden Bird’s new regime at Kingstonian opened the season with two draws this week, leaving the manager frustrated by missed chances, writes Taimour Lay.

A entertaining 0-0 against Cray Wanderers on Saturday was followed by a 1-1 at Wingate & Finchley on Tuesday evening.

Wingate took an early lead after a speculative 25-yard shot sailed into the top corner. But the home team then played the next 70 minutes with 10 men following Ahmed Rifat’s deserved red card for two cynical lunges.

K’s proceeded to dominate the ball and at least scored their first goal of the campaign, equalising in the second period through a messy own goal. Late chances fell to Louie Theophanous and substitute Dan Thompson but both were spurned.

"It's really frustrating", Bird said afterwards. "I don't think a point is acceptable tonight. The reality is we have to win this game. We are going through a process but when teams play against us, they will play with a low block and we need better movement to make the pitch big. The technicians in the team didn't do enough. But let's bring some perspective, there's a lot of good stuff too."

It is just as well Bird wants to play the ball on the ground. Saturday was beset by strong winds but both sides managed to produce an enterprising display.

Theophanous, who led the line well in Bird’s 4-2-3-1, thought he had won his team a first-half penalty after cutely dribbling past a couple of Cray defenders. He fell a couple of yards inside the box, the referee whistled up for a foul but to the surprise of players and supporters alike, gave a free-kick on the edge of the box. Dan Bennett, making his second K’s debut, curled over.

On 35 minutes, K’s created another fine opportunity. Theophanous was picked out running into the box and his fierce drive was well kept out by Lewis Carey. The ball was re-collected by the striker and shifted into Bennett’s path. His shot was going well wide before it took a mighty deflection, looping over Carey and being cleared off the line as far as Fabio Saraiva, who acrobatically volleyed wide from five yards out.

With 15 minutes remaining, Bennett had K’s best chance of the game. The ball was moved quickly from left to right, spreading the play out to Sean Clohessy, one of only three players retained from last season. He had an impressive afternoon and so nearly capped it with a fine assist but his clipped cross was met by Bennett’s forehead which was somehow tipped over, one-handed, by the Cray keeper. 

Bennett, an entertaining midfielder, rued that moment. “I’m very frustrated with my header – there’s zero excuses. I’m disappointed not to have scored that”, he told the Comet.

“In the end, we had three massive chances today and didn’t take them,” Bennett continued. “It’s a shame not to put one of them away and take the three points. But if you look at the game overall, even though they had a lot of the ball, we were ultimately in control. I don’t think Rob Tolfrey had a save to make. So in that respect we’ve done our job.”

Bird heaped praise on right-back Sean Clohessy. “In terms of how I want to play, with width coming from a full-back, he is perfect. Let’s not forget that he marked their best player today in Andre Coker, but the secret with Sean is that, because he understands his work tactically, their best player found himself collecting the ball only in deep areas because Sean had forced him back by creeping up the pitch.”

K’s host Margate at King George’s Field on Saturday.