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Stevenage Borough 3-3 Kingstonian

Kingstonian made the relatively short trip to Stevenage with a full first team starting the game and the notable inclusions of the two new boys on the bench. With the K's only three points from third place, there is still a lot to play for in the league, similarly, Stevenage also have such aspirations. A good number of travelling K's-ites were present and all the ingredients for a good match, including a very nice looking pitch (albeit sloped).

Both teams started with positive football. In the early minutes Leworthy curiously passed the ball forward to his full-back team mate Tarkan Mustafa who linked with Pitcher to set up Leworthy, but the chance was too slim, and Leworthy unfortunately is not, and couldn't get to the delivery. Soon after this though, Dave had a better chance when Eddie Akuamoah fed him through to a one on one with the keeper, but he placed his shot just wide of the right post. Again K's had a good chance to open the scoring soon afterwards. Eddie brilliant turned his defender and progressed along the left, before firing a fierce cross across the six yard box. The 'keeper, Taylor dived to the ball and stuck out his left hand putting the ball towards Mustafa just outside of the penalty area. His shot was then stopped by a defender and the ball was cleared, eventually.

As the talk on the away terrace was of how many K's should be up by, the pressure went to the other end. Farralley again showed his goalkeeping prowess by leaping to catch the ball amonst a most crowded six yard box, but soon after this Stevenage were awarded a corner. Simon Stewart headed clear but the ball was then powered back in to the mixer, where Pearson met it at the near post with a well directed header to take the lead in the 16th minute.

The best K's could offer to this was a chance which came about from a long throw by Kevin Rattray. Though Eddie miscontrolled the ball, it spilt to Mark Harris but his shot was too weak to worry anyone. Before long, the Boro had another corner. The ball was fired in and Strouts was able to head the ball across the face of the goal. Carl Alford was the first to react and scored through a magnificent overhead kick at the back post. With Stevenage two up in twenty minutes K's heads were beginning to drop. When a third corner was awarded to the home team, fears that they would go three up were only slighted waved away as Berry's header took K's a long time to clear.

Thankfully, K's were still trying to play good football. A fine move linking Leworthy to Colin Luckett through Rattray and Akuamoah pose problems in the home team's penalty area. In the 36th minute a Mustafa cross saw an amazing touch from Rattray who played the ball into Leworthy's path. Though the touch was splendid, Dave still had a lot to do, but he was equal to the challenge when he fired the volley inside the right-hand post from about twelve yards.

With the crowd still celebrating/commiserating Patterson received possession to the left of the Stevenage area, and showed his England qualities by floating the perfectly weighted cross towards Leworthy at the back post. Leworthy excellently headed downwards in a situation where it would have been all too easy to head over and K's were level again. Both the K's goals were beautifully created and executed - a real joy to behold. With confidence sky-high Eddie chanced his luck after cutting in from the right but his shot was sliced, and it was all Boro could do to stop K's creating any more chances. When the whistle sounded for half-time it was definitely the home team who were happier.

As the ref was walking off for his break he was curiously asked to pick out tickets for a prize drawn. K's fans were joking that this was a bribe. Many a true word said in jest 'n' all but the second half appeared to show the cheating age of Cheatenage Borough in a much better light. As soon as the half started Pearson committed a horrendous foul on Colin Luckett and soon after this the reds were awarded a corner for when it was clear to most in the stadium that a goal kick was the proper award.

K's were soon after all the available points and Patterson could have scored when he missed a difficult headed opportunity. However the ball came out to Tarkan Mustafa whose fiercely powerful straight as an arrow shot hit Statham on the line. There was some confusion after this, particularly for the visting supporters stood at the other end. K's players were surrounding the referee and it was unclear what had been given. As Statham was shown the red card, it was clear that the referee, Mr. P. Joslin, had (quite rightly, of course) awarded a penalty for handball and sent off the full back, who was arguably Stevenage's best player, for denying a goal scoring opportunity. Colin Luckett again stepped up to take the spot kick. Interstingly, Taylor left a lot of space to his left for Luckett to shoot at. Luckett typically did so, and Taylor's attempt was good and he got a hand to it, but could only succeed in directing the ball to the top right hand corner.

The frustration amongst the Stevenage players was evident. As a Boro player was receiving treatment in his half, a fight almost broke out in the K's half - Mark Harris particularly involved - and it is a credit to some of the players on both sides that nothing seroius happened. Not thanks to the ref, of course.

The referee soon showed that he was just having a bad game, as opposed to being biased when he allowed a clear foul by Mark Harris on a loan striker who was running through on goal to be unpunished. Cliches such as "you make your own luck in this game" were appropriately sounded at this time. But similarly, a high foot on Corbett also went punished. Crucially, Love gained posession from this and his shot to Farralley's right was too good for the scouser to stop so Stevenage drew level. Fittingly for Valentine's Week-end, Love was later awarded the Man Of The Match award.

But there was still time for plenty of excitement in the match. Farralley raced out of his area to dispossess Telemarque and later made a good save from Love in a situation similar to the one from which he scored earlier. K's on the other hand had a fine shot from Pitcher and a Luckett corner looked to cause more trouble than Boro would have wanted.

As the game drew to a close the game got very niggly. There were fouls all over the place, and K's were struggling to make their extra man pay. Delton Francis made his debut but did nothing sepcial. K's best chance came from Matt Crossley of all people but Stevenage finished the game by far the more threatening of the teams. Rattray in particular was good at this time trying to soak up the pressure and keep the concentration of the visitors. Of course, it doesn't help when your own team-mates are heading the ball against the bar. Colin Luckett did this when intercepting a cross which would have gone to the head of Alford. Scott Corbett also joined in the fun when he headed against the bar following a Boro corner.

K's were relieved to hear the final whistle. Despite being 3-2 up at one stage, and despite scoring two excellent goals, and a penalty which came about from the deliberate illegal stopping of a would be excellent goal, Stevenage looked the stronger team at the end. A draw at Steveanage is most credible for Chapple's men, and to come back from two goals down makes it even better. A most entertaing game for any neutrals present, and an exciting game for the many non-neutrals there too.

Sat 13th Feb 1999
Broadhall Way
Football Conference
Stevenage Borough3
Leworthy (2), Luckett (pen)
1Steve Farrelly
2Tarkan Mustafa
3Colin LuckettCautioned
4Matt Crossley
5Simon Stewart
6Mark HarrisCautioned
7Gary Patterson12
8Geoff Pitcher
9Kevin Rattray
10David Leworthy15
11Eddie Akuamoah
12Scott Corbett7
14Kofi Nyamah
15Delton Francis10
Man of the Match
Kevin Rattray
Match Report By
Gary Ekins