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Cheltenham Town 1-3 Kingstonian

Kingstonian again travelled to the successful half of Gloucestershire, but this time they were followed by a healthy band of (merry) supporters. Of course, the home team had also boosted its supporters and with both teams naming full strength starting line ups (bar cup-tied players) this game had everything for a thrilling match. With the scores from the first match equal, it was only ninety minutes that would decide who would be walking onto the Wembley turf come May 15th. And who won't stop going on about it for some time before and afterwards.

K's started brightly, but there was no real expectancy for what was to occur as early as the fourth minute. Akuamoah rounded Chris Banks but was upended and won a free kick, a few yards in from the left corner flag. Pitcher stepped up to take the cross and his floater went over Book's head and was perfectly positioned for Matt Crossley to score with a free header from merely a yard out. This sloppy goal sent the travelling fans wild and it all looked good for the rest of the game.

However, Cheltenham were soon to attempt a reply by fair means or foul. Fair by winning a corner, foul by the first atrocious Grayson elbow. But K's defending was tight, and was typified on one notable occasion an excellent challenge by Luckett on the right flank, covering for team mate Mustafa.

But K's could have had their second when Akuamoah ran onto a bouncing ball and perfectly touched the ball to Leworthy whose shot was deflected. Again a good chance was wasted when another Pitcher free kick was left by the entire Cheltenham defence. This time though, no K's player could meet it.

Grayson was again a very influential person in this game. His diving, his cheating and, though it hurts to say, his skill. He eased past Crossley but put his shot just wide mid way during the first half. But then the pressure swept to the other end. Pitcher's pass to Luckett saw the defender cross the ball towards Rattray. His headed touch dropped to Akuamoah whose shot again fell wide of the upright.

K's could have, perhaps should have, had a penalty to really get a two goal cushion. A clear push by Russell Milton raised a huge appeal but the referee was having none of it. And so to the other end, where Cheltenham had a sustained period of pressure involving two corner kicks and culminating in a wayward shot by John Brough. Shortly after this Clive Walker's pass to Duff saw the full-back obstructed and an indirect free kick just inside of the area was awarded. Matt Crossley was straight out to block the subsequent shot and then ran down the other end to set up an attack. He was very unlucky not to receive a better ball from Mustafa, and the attack eventually broke down.

The fury created by the Cheltenham team was again eminent when Rob Bloomer clearly elbowed Patterson. Curiously, the referee gave the free kick but deemed that punishment enough. Seconds later Mustafa received a head injury but play went on for some time before Milton had a shot which went awry. Rattray was rightly booked after this for a bad challenge on Duff.

4:10pm saw the kick off of the second half. It commenced with persistent niggling by Lee Howells on Crossley. Crossley retaliated and was booked for his actions, but only after the intervention of Grayson who was seen to be arguing the case for the prosecutor. Grayson again made himself unpopular when he lead with his elbow against Steve Farraley making no effort to get the ball. Thankfully for the K's keeper though, he was only hit in the chest. However, it remains that Grayson's persistent foul play has been unequalled this season, and one day he will cause injury or will have injury inflicted upon him.

On 55 minutes K's took the 2 goal lead that they had been threatening for so long. Pitcher came in from the left and despite a handball claim floated the ball towards the back post where Leworthy toe poked the ball into the net.

As the celebrations were in full swing Cheltenham did stage comeback threats. They were awarded a number of corners and Knight went on a good run which needed the presence of mind of Crossley to put in a good block. A very good chance for The Robins occurred when Grayson won a good flick on and put Mark Freeman in at the back put he put it over. Milton also had a good chance but just proceeded in giving Farralley catching practice. Later on the K's keeper had to dive at the feet of Brough but retrieved the ball. Typically, Brough then tried to kcik it out of his hands whilst on the floor.

The best of the chances that the home team had in this spell fell to Howells. As caution was thrown to the wind, he linked up superbly with Knight, who released the ball at precisely the right time when he had two defenders on him to leave Howells in space with only the keeper to beat. Perhaps it was that he had too much time, but he wasted the best chance of the game by pushing the ball just wide of the right hand post. However, the break through did occur on 78 minutes when Grayson scored from just inside the area with the aid of a deflection of Mustafa.

The Cheltenham Massive soon found their voices and it all looked ominous for the boys in yellow. Grayson was continually looking for free-kicks and you just felt as though he might be awarded one. Mark Harris took particular objection to another dive, this time by Norton. With time ticking away something was going to give, and we all hoped it wouldn't be Kingston's chances.

Thankfully it wasn't, with some shouting at players not to attack and to defend the slender 1 goal margin, Pitcher fled down the right wing and flighted another great ball to the back post. This time it was Patterson who was there to give K's an unassailable lead with just three minutes left.

And before we knew it the referee had blown for full time. K's had guaranteed their place at the twin towers, and the parties were set in motion. It's a shame one of the coaches was bricked, because a bizarre rapport had emerged at the end of the game with opposing fans congratulating each other on their success in separate competitions, and it was all very amicable.

K's deserved the win. All the players played superbly and Chapple's magic continues. WE'RE GOING TO WEMBLEY

Sat 17th Apr 1999
FA Trophy Semi final 2nd leg
Cheltenham Town1
Crossley, Leworthy, Patterson
1Steve Farrelly
2Tarkan Mustafa
3Colin Luckett
4Matt CrossleyCautioned
5Simon Stewart
6Mark Harris
7Gary Patterson
8Geoff PitcherCautioned
9Kevin RattrayCautioned
10David Leworthy15
11Eddie Akuamoah14
12Wayne Brown
13Jerome John
14Delton Francis11
15Kofi Nyamah10
16Andrew Sullivan
Man of the Match
Matt Crossley
Matt Crossley
Match Report By
Gary Ekins