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Kingstonian 1-1 St Albans City

A game which lasted for more than 210 minutes, and involved over 25 players, was finally decided by one person's failure to convert a penalty from 12 yards. Ultimately, it was Paul Turner's shot, saved by Steve Farrelly at just before 10.30pm that meant that it was Kingstonian, and not St Albans, who progressed to the "proper" stages of the FA Cup. The teams couldn't be separated on Saturday, and most people at Kingsmeadow were resigned to a late night well before the end of normal time.

There were, however, chances for either side to have won the game. St Albans took the lead for the first time in the tie after just 9 minutes of the replay. A free kick from the left was met by an unmarked Steve Clark at the far post, who headed confidently past Farrelly. But the K's were in no mood to become the victims of a giant killing, and straight away set about restoring parity. A corner just minutes after the first goal was met by Matt Crossley, whose header skimmed the top of the Saints bar. Then, just moments later, the scores were level.

Kevin Rattray's absence through either illness or injury had given Gavin Holligan the chance to impress the watching scouts from the start. A header from Geoff Pitcher was sent towards him in the St Albans box. He somehow managed to chest the ball down, and connect with a superb right foot volley to send the ball into the roof of the net. The fact that he managed to not only control the ball, but also get in a scoring shot, while surrounded by three or four defenders, should have impressed the "vultures", and has hopefully added another digit to his fee.

The rest of the half was played out with neither team managing to get a grip on the slippery conditions. The result was that the ball spent far too much time in the air (IMO) and chances were at a premium. Having said that, either side could have led at half time. A corner from the left swung dangerously into Farrelly's goal, and he had to scramble to tip the ball over the bar for another attempt. A shot from Rob Haworth just cleared the bar from another Saints' corner, but the best chance fell to Kingstonian.

Tarkan Mustafa, who was having a good game going forward on the right, released Geoff Pitcher, who was sent clear of the defence. The angle looked tight for a shot, and Holligan had done well to support the midfielder. Whether Pitcher chose to shoot or cross isn't clear, but whatever his decision, the ball somehow eluded both Holligan and the far post, and the chance was gone. K's must have been content at half time - the scores were still level, there were some good performances, most notably from Mustafa, Pitcher and Eddie Akuamoah, and there was still plenty of time for the so-called "Conference-Class" to shine through. Or so everyone thought.

St Albans were in no mood to be overrun. Every time a K's player had the ball, there was a yellow shirted player closing him down, and the home side were never allowed to enjoy a sustained period of pressure. However, in the second half, most chances fell to hooped shirted players. Mustafa cut in from the right and unleashed a left-foot shot just past the post; a long range Colin Luckett shot just cleared the bar; and Holligan almost gave K's a two-one lead. He was sent through a gap in the Saints' defence, and he managed to lift his shot over goalkeeper Andy Lomas. As the ball rolled slowly towards the goal, a quick hurdle by Ashley Vickers allowed him to clear the shot just before it crossed the line. It wasn't all K's pressure however - Farrelly made a fine save from another Clark header and there were times when it was Kingstonian looking to hang on.

The most contentious decision of the night came fifteen minutes before the end of normal time. Mustafa showed his class on the right, and sent a ball across the face of goal. Geoff Pitcher was lurking at the far post, and managed to turn the ball in to give K's the lead. Or so everybody thought. The linesman was standing with his flag aloft as, apparently, Pitcher had been in an offside position. How this had been possible, when he had surely been behind Mustafa when the cross was sent over, is difficult to ascertain. But the decision was given, and the game went on.

There was still time for chances for both sides - Matt Crossley went close yet again from a corner; Pitcher had another chance, this time after a deflected Colin Luckett shot went into his path, but his shot struck the top of the crossbar; a quick St Albans free kick was played to Justin Gentle, whose shot struck the outside of the post before K's had reacted; and a bungled clearance from Farrelly, followed by a slip from Luckett, allowed Clark to shoot, but Simon Stewart was on hand to clear the danger. But it wasn't to be, and an extra thirty minutes were required. During the extra period, it was clear that neither side wanted to risk their place in the cup by going all out for a winner. Holligan had a chance early on, but his left foot shot flew wide. There were claims for a penalty, when Mustafa went down, but not many people joined in with the appeals.

And so, after 210 minutes, the scores were still level. After much deliberation the penalty takers were selected and, with the entire crowd down the Kingston Road end, the referee, Mr. J.Ross from London, decided to have a laugh by sending the players up the other end. Cue a mass exodus. St Albans went first, and managed to convert their first two penalties, as did K's. It was the third Saints penalty which was the turning point however.

Paul Turner's shot went straight, and Farrelly just managed to save with his feet as he was diving away. He even managed to get up in time to save Turner's frustrated rebound, and after that, all that was needed was a steady nerve. No more penalties were missed by either side and so, when Pitcher sent Lomas the wrong way with K's fifth, everyone could go home. For the record, the Kingston scorers from the spot were: Luckett, Scott Corbett (with headband in place), Akuamoah, Gary Patterson and Pitcher.

The crowd of just 845 should have distressed the board, who must be hoping that K's can improve their cup performances, for the chance to earn a money spinning tie in the second or third round. And so it is Kingstonian and not St Albans that will see Burton visit on the 14th. If K's had performed as well as we know they can, there would have been no need for this replay. Having said that, nothing should be taken away from St Albans, who met their counterparts with everything they had. It was perhaps fitting that Pitcher dispatched the deciding penalty, as his earlier effort was surely wrongly outlawed, and he showed once again, that he is back to the fine form which won him last year's web-site Player of the Year award.

Tue 3rd Nov 1998
Kingsmeadow Stadium
FA Cup 4th qualifying round replay
St Albans City1
1Steve Farrelly
2Tarkan Mustafa
3Colin Luckett
4Matt Crossley
5Simon Stewart
6Mark Harris
7Gary Patterson
8Geoff Pitcher
9Gavin Holligan
10David Leworthy12
11Eddie Akuamoah
12Scott Corbett10
13Jerome John
14Dean Thomas
15Wayne Brown
16Danny Smith
Man of the Match
Geoff Pitcher
Geoff Pitcher
Match Report By
Gary Ekins