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Kingstonian 0-1 Forest Green Rovers

With three weeks to go until the "real thing", the result of this dress rehearsal proved that there is still much work to do - on both sides. The Rovers, for the second time against K's, started with a somewhat under-strength side, whilst the eleven "Heroes of Whaddon Road" (as labeled by press-man Brendan) started for the home side. With this supposed difference in quality, most of the 1,008 crowd (with the eight coming from Forest Green we're assured) presumed that three more points would be added to the K's total. How wrong everybody was proved to be.

The tone for the game was set upon arrival at the ground. Wembley scarves, hats and flags were in abundance - not to mention the tickets - and there seemed to be an air of "what's the point" around. And of course, this affected both sides. But still, if you have to run around for ninety minutes, you may as well try. Or perhaps not. Just five minutes had elapsed when Forest Green took the lead. Marc McGregor collected the ball on the right and ambled towards goal. His shot from some thirty yards was nothing special, but Farrelly was only able to palm it into the corner of the net. Some (cynical) journalists attempted to label it a Farrelly o.g. but McGregor was more than pleased to claim the goal.

In hindsight, the referee may as well have blown the final whistle there and then. It would have saved the spectators witnessing one of the most mind-numbing eighty-five minutes of football on record. If the Trophy final is anything like this then Sky will be after a refund for their £10,000. But the referee was determined to stick by the rules - they're funny like that aren't they ? - and played out the ninety minutes.

It wasn't that Kingstonian didn't try - they just didn't try very hard. Pitcher put a free-kick over the top, a far post Kevin Rattray header hit the "well-built" goalkeeper Steve Perrin and Tarkan Mustafa - looking like he might finally be producing some form - shot just wide with the outside of his right foot. The visitors also had chances, with Winter shooting poorly after exchanging passes with McGregor.

To be fair, K's should have had a penalty before the break. No scrub that. To be fair, K's should have had four penalties within the space of half a minute before the break. Unfortunately referee Mr.L.Jones of Bournemouth turned down the first three, and by the time the fourth "HANDBALL !!" appeal was heard in the space of thirty seconds it was all getting a bit silly. It all started from a Geoff Pitcher free-kick on the left, which was met by the head of Rattray. The goalbound effort was prevented from going in by Ian Hedges and Don Forbes, who proceeded to practice their volleyball skills on the line, palming the ball to each other. They finally decided to return to football and hoofed the ball up and out. It was about to land just inside the Rovers area, but was stopped from doing so by the hand of Bailey. More screams for penalties were turned down before the final appeal - into the House of Lords by now - was rejected after another punch by Hedges.

Chapple had spent the first half prowling the touch-line and it was pretty obvious that he was far from content. He obviously let the players know this during the interval as they did come out a bit more determined. The gee-up did the trick in that K's proceeded to totally boss the second half, but a goal just couldn't be found. The search wasn't helped by the end of Eddie's game for some sort of injury, as he had been playing fairly well. Delton Francis, of course, still awaits his first goal.

Mark Harris made more of an attacking appearance during the second half, and he almost made the difference when his header hit the top of the bar with Perrin stranded (or should that be beached ?). Just after this, the clearest chance of the day was created for Mustafa. Leworthy played the ball to Pitcher, who managed to thread the ball through to the wing-back with just the goalkeeper to beat. It was obvious that, having spent so much time in Cheltenham and then at Nene Park of late, the players had pretty much forgotten the state of the Kingsmeadow pitch. Several bobbles put Mustafa off before he could get his shot in, and the result was that his effort - probably with his shin, just below the knee - went wide.

McGregor almost added a second, but Farrelly made up for his earlier error with a good save, but it then seemed to come down to K's v Forbes. The Rovers' defender first blocked a Rattray shot then headed away Mustafa's follow up cross. His back then blocked a shot from the wing-back before he cleared away a Francis overhead shot with the last kick of the game.

And so Forest Green had done the double over K's. It probably doesn't bode well for Wembley, but then Cheltenham also claimed six points from the two league games and look what happened to them in the semi-final. Let's just say that the Trophy Final can't come quickly enough. If relegation wasn't already avoided there would be a (more) distinct worry line on Chapple's brow. In the last four league games K's have won just one point and scored no goals. With three games left to the end of the league season let's just hope that at least one more point can be gained.

Sat 24th Apr 1999
Kingsmeadow Stadium
Football Conference
Forest Green Rovers1
1Steve Farrelly
2Tarkan Mustafa
3Colin LuckettCautioned
4Matt Crossley
5Simon Stewart
6Mark Harris
7Gary Patterson
8Geoff Pitcher
9Kevin RattrayCautioned
10David Leworthy
11Eddie Akuamoah14
12Wayne Brown
14Delton Francis11
15Danny Smith
Man of the Match
Kevin Rattray
Match Report By
Gary Ekins