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Kingstonian 1-0 Burton Albion

The centre of attention for this first round FA Cup match was most definitely Gavin Holligan. After spending Friday afternoon having talks with West Ham United, he ran out for what may well be his final game at Kingsmeadow knowing that 18 of the 20 Premiership clubs had sent scouts down to watch him - Derby and Manchester United being the exceptions. This all meant that Dave Leworthy, supposedly fit again, had to be content to start the match on the bench.

Now, due to some over-officious sales "assisting" in Kingston Town Centre, I personally missed the first 20 minutes or so, but I am assured that nothing of note occurred during my enforced absence. If I have been misled, feel free to let us know.....

In fact, the most interesting thing about the first half was the ludicrously under manned police's attempt to move the Burton fans who had somehow got onto the K's side of the segregation fence. Maybe the Kingstonian management never thought that people might just walk through "the wrong gate".

With about ten minutes of the half left, the potential problem was sorted out, and we could concentrate on the football again. After a foul by Pat Lyons on Holligan, Matt Crossley connected with Geoff Pitcher's free-kick, and headed just over the bar.

Whether it was the pressure of being watched so avidly or some other reason, Holligan was certainly not at his best. K's continued their recent trend of hitting long balls at his or Eddie Akuamoah's head, and once again, falied to learn that this was not the way that they would beat Burton.

It has to be said that the Midlanders didn't look at all out of place. They tested Steve Farrelly on more than one occasion, and the defence had to be at its best - which indeed it was. Matt Crossley looked confident and assured, and was the starting place for many of K's attacks, while both Simon Stewart and Mark Harris continue to prove how well Geoff Chapple operates in the transfer market.

The second half was certainly a more entertaining affair. Colin Luckett went close after a few minutes with a cross to the far post, which almost turned into the opening goal. Pitcher went close from 20 yards when his free-kick just cleared Nick Goodwin's right-hand post, and again a few minutes later, when his right foot shot scraped the same post a bit lower down.

It wasn't all one way traffic though - a cross from David Holmes on the Burton right had Farrelly scrambling backwards, presumably because he thought that the ball might dip under his bar. But soon afterwards, the deadlock was broken.

K's won a corner on the left and, with Simon Stewart urging the crowd of 1,505 to increase the volume, Pitcher swung the ball towards the far post. Matt Crossley rose above everybody, and managed to head the ball goalwards. Goodwin was beaten, but was relieved to see the ball bounce back from the crossbar, but not for long. The ball fell straight to Holligan, who had the simplest task to knonk the ball over the line to give the home side a one-nil lead.

This was the young striker's eleventh goal of the season and, although he's scored far more spectacular ones in his time at K's, it was nice that he was able to sign off with what proved to be the winner. In fact, it seemed that he was given the chance to say goodbye to the crowd, when he was replaced by Leworthy with just a few minutes left. I'm sure everybody wishes him well.

But the game wasn't over just yet. Mark Blount picked up the ball deep inside his own half, and set off on a determined run. There were few challenges on him, and he finally laid the ball off to his skipper, Darren Stride, who ended what would have been a superb goal with a woeful shot high over the visiting supporters.

Geoff Pitcher was, once again, having a superb game in the middle of the park - hopefully none of the scouts noticed. He beat a couple of challenges, played a one-two with Gary Patterson, and then crossed into the box. But just before Eddie could reach the ball, the cross was cut out by the defence.

When the ninety minute mark was reached, the fourth official held up the "4" sign to signal to referee Mr.S.Tomlin that there was still time for the Burton pressure to tell. Farrelly made a save after a shot from the right and a long cross to the left was met by Andy Garner, who would have had a good chance to shoot had he controlled it properly. But the ball ran away from him, and with it Burton's hopes of an upset.

It was yet another less-than-convincing performance from Kingstonian, and they will certainly need to improve if they are to overcome Leyton Orient to progress to the Third round. Overall, Burton probably didn't deserve to be beaten, but it would have been unthinkable for Gavin Holligan to leave Kingsmeadow without making another mark in the goals column. And with it, he's kept dreams of Wembley alive for another few weeks.

Sat 14th Nov 1998
Kingsmeadow Stadium
FA Cup 1st round
Burton Albion0
1Steve Farrelly
2Tarkan MustafaCautioned
3Colin LuckettCautioned
4Matt Crossley
5Simon Stewart
6Mark Harris
7Gary Patterson
8Geoff Pitcher
9Kevin Rattray
10Gavin Holligan14
11Eddie Akuamoah
12Scott Corbett
13Jerome John
14David Leworthy10
15Wayne Brown
16Danny Smith
Man of the Match
Geoff Pitcher
Geoff Pitcher
Match Report By
Gary Ekins