A goalless draw on New Years Day may not have done much to wake up a quiet crowd but it could prove a point gained in Kingstonian’s chase for promotion.

Visitors Merstham came into the game on a fine run of form and looked to pass the ball patiently at King George’s. K’s, who had not played for nine days over the Christmas period, opted for a more direct approach in an aggressive 4-4-2 but poor decisions in the final third repeatedly let both sides down.

Louie Theophanous looked the most dangerous of the forwards, wriggling through in the box on two occasions and also connecting with a first-half cross that went wide.

But the best chance of the opening period fell to Charlton loanee Ben Dempsey who pressed on the half-way, stole possession and advanced all the way into the box before blazing his shot high over the bar.

Merstham had the better of the match after the break and forced Rob Tolfrey into two decent saves before the afternoon meandered to a close.

Manager Leigh Dynan was left frustrated, although K’s remain in third, eight points behind leaders Haringey Borough. “I felt we weren’t really at the races,” he said. “We didn’t press the way we were meant to. If you don’t press Merstham they will look like a non-league Brazil. But the backline and the keeper were very good and contained them. Rob Tolfrey was outstanding today, clearing his lines, talking, coming for crosses.”

The game was an interesting contrast in styles and Dynan defended his tactics. “We haven’t got where we’ve got by playing through the middle of the park. We’re a 4-4-2. Most teams we come up against are three in the middle. Sometimes five in the middle, like today, when they play a 4-3-2-1 with a narrow three. We don’t want to play the game in the middle of the park. We want to get down the flanks, but when we did that today, we didn’t pick anyone out.”

Captain Tolfrey, who is now in a remarkable tenth year at the club, said the players won’t feel the pressure as the season heads into its critical phase. “I think, from the playing side, we’ve just got to worry about winning football matches, and not think about setting a bar for the end of the season,” he cautioned. “We don’t think of it as pressure. Just go display by display. Like today we probably weren’t where we should’ve been. We need to keep our levels high.”

Tolfrey also praised his manager who has brought the keeper back to his best form after a sometimes turbulent 2018. “I’ve got a good working relationship with Leigh, we don’t always agree, which is fine. He pushes me to the limits, which is also fine, and which I want especially as I’m getting a little older. He’s brought me in a coach who I’ve got a lot of time for. He has his way of playing and if you don’t buy into it, you’ll soon be gone. You’re either with him or you’re not here.”