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Leek Town 2-2 Kingstonian

K's travelled to Leek in an attempt to continue the good form from their almost successful cup run. Reminding us of what the Ryman league had to offer in terms of grounds, pitches and attendances, Leek promised to be easy opponents and just what K's needed to get a win under their belts again. How wrong we were proved to be. The first half gave everyone evidence for why Leek are at the wrong end of the table, as goalkeeping hilarities provided the away side with endless chances.

Lee Boylan, an on-loan signing from West Ham, made his debut in place of the dear-departed Gavin Holligan alongside David Leworthy. Before the game, Dave had spent some time talking to the youngster, as they have only trained together once. Other changes from the team which faced Orient were Eddie Akuamoah, Kevin Rattray and Simon Stewart all out as they were injured, whilst Wayne Brown could not occupy the subs' bench as he is suffering from whiplash following a car accident.

It took just 12 minutes for K's to take the lead - a back pass from John Diskin fell short of goalkeeper Gary Ingham, and Leworthy used his "experience" to get there first. The easiest of Christmas presents was turned down by the striker, but he was unable to be so generous when the keeper gave the ball back to him seven yards from goal. From this range, and with an open net gaping, Leworthy was bound to score. He did.

The boggy pitch was proving difficult for K's, as passes went astray, but Leek allowed for these mistakes by continually giving the ball back to the hoops. Lee Boylan looked impressive, though if anything, he seemed to suffer due to the poor quality of the pitch more than most. Leek can't really match West Ham in that department.

Hughie McAuley was certainly Leek's best player, and he had the first chance of note for the home team. He turned well past Alex Willgrass, but his shot went high and wide. Farrelly, with tears dried up, watched with interest. The four man defence never looked as solid as the five-man version, and Scott Corbett deputising for Stewart was caring too much to keep his shirt clean at times. The altered team meant that, at times, there was no width to the team, with Mustafa and Luckett being tied to defensive duties more than usual.

Boylan went close after good work by Matt Crossley sent him clear. He sent McCord the wrong way and his shot was palmed onto a defender's head by the hapless Ingham. His partnership with Leworthy worked well, especially as the veteran seemed to be trying to match Holligan's enthusiasm and energy with tireless work up front. He was instrumental in K's second goal, as a Pitcher free-kick was completely missed by Matt Beeby. Leworthy turned the ball into the middle and Scott Corbett couldn't miss from three yards out, although he did manage to fall over so that he could say "look, I've been trying hard".

A third goal almost came before the break, as another Leworthy shot went close, but as the whistle went for half-time, the K's trooped off with an easy three points in their grasp. Discussions over the interval almost certainly contained the players' remaining shopping lists and Christmas plans, as they obviously had no need to concentrate on the remaining forty-five minutes. Leek on the other hand came out five minutes early for the second half, and were in no mood to provide the travelling K's-ites with any more chances to label the team "clowns".

Was this a game of two halves? Is Mark Murphy cynical? Is Iraq a bad place for a holiday? As Meg Ryan would say "yes. Yes. YES." McAuley set up a shot on the left which struck Mustafa and Farrelly did well to smother the rebound. Jason Pascoe went close from twenty yards as the pressure mounted, and it finally told after 53 minutes when a left foot shot from McAuley passed Farrelly's diving frame to enter the bottom right hand corner.

It was hoped that this would prove to be the wake-up that K's needed, and that they would get back into the form that they showed in the first half, but it wasn't to be. Just moments later a far-post cross was almost turned in by the air-borne McAuley, but he didn't have his "smart-technology" on and missed by inches. The Leek fans found their voices for the first time when Mike scored the equaliser from outside the box. It was another good shot into the corner of the goal, and at this time it looked that there would be only one winner in the game.

Kingston had allowed complacency to set in, and had thrown away a great chance to improve their goal difference. Leek, who had looked the worst side that had been met this season in the first half, now seemed capable of anything, and K's were left chasing shadows. As news was filtering through that the number of corners would not be taken into account if the game was drawn, K's looked for a winner. A fine move between Boylan and Pitcher allowed Leworthy to try a curling lob from the edge of the area, but Ingham just got to the ball, with the rebound being poked off Boylan's toe. His left foot shot just after this just cleared the upright, as it looked that the team had finally woken up to the fact that they weren't winning anymore.

Beeby again made a hash of clearing the ball, and a clever back-heel from Leworthy gave Boylan the chance to make a name for himself. In front of goal, with big gaps either side of the ill-placed Ingham, he obviously thought that the inept goalkeeper would dive out of the way, and so placed his shot straight. Ingham was clearly undecided as to which way to dive, and so, as he dithered over his decision, managed to cushion the ball in his stomach. Boylan did much better from a half-chance from a tight angle on the left, turning on the only good square-foot of the pitch, but his shot was again saved.

This had been the only "proper" shot which Ingham had managed to keep out of the net, and so it was very surprising when the Man of the Match, according to the sponsor (who we think was Mrs Ingham, but we're not sure), was announced shortly afterwards - Gary Ingham. Both sides could have won the game late on, but it wasn't to be, and so a point was all the reward earned after a good first half.

K's were clearly the better side in this game, but they allowed themselves to consider that the job had been done in the first half, when there was still fight left in the home side. This means that K's have not won a league game since October, and sets up an ominous looking game on Boxing Day. Should Woking win by a two-goal margin, then the Cards will climb above K's in the league table. And on this form, there looks to be every possibility of that.

Sat 19th Dec 1998
Harrison Park
Football Conference
Leek Town2
Leworthy, Corbett
1Steve Farrelly
2Tarkan Mustafa
3Colin Luckett
4Matt Crossley
5Scott Corbett
6Mark Harris
7Gary Patterson
8Geoff Pitcher
9Alex Willgrass
10David Leworthy
11Lee Boylan
12Russ Watkinson
14Dean Thomas
15Danny Smith
Man of the Match
David Leworthy
David Leworthy
Match Report By
Gary Ekins