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Altrincham 1-3 Kingstonian

K's travelled to Moss Lane knowing that Forest Green and Welling fans would be glued to their television remote controls trying to find out the latest. A win for Altrincham would result in an end to the interest in this season's Conference, as both Rovers and United would be relegated. After the first ten minutes it looked to be a good night for Teletext viewers, as the home team had the lead and generally looked the better side. But a two minute spell saw K's recapture the lead and after that they never looked back.

With another game looming just twenty-four hours hence, team selection was being watched eagerly by both sets of fans. K's certainly fielded the strongest team that they could, leaving no room for complaint. With Tarkan Mustafa unable to make it, Mike Lester filled in at right-back and there was a welcome return for Simon Stewart who certainly looked keen to remind everybody that he might just be available for Wembley.

The game started interestingly when, after just ten seconds, Gary Patterson had the ball and had his arm tugged from behind. His response in hitting the offender in the mouth was just a touch extreme. Neither the referee nor either linesman saw the incident so he escaped what could have been the quickest red card in history. And that surely wouldn't have helped with convincing the FA to allow him to play in the Trophy final.

Just 230 seconds after this Altrincham had the lead. Andy Lovelock had the ball inside the Kingstonian area, but was heading away from goal, when he was impeded by Colin Luckett. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot, and Richard Landon had no hesitation in beating Steve Farrelly low to his left.

The home side had certainly come out looking for an early goal, and their play had probably deserved it. But, just when they would have been expecting to build on the lead, K's equalised - totally out of the blue. Eddie Akuamoah played a short pass to Geoff Pitcher who was hanging around on the right hand side of the pitch. Goalkeeper Lance Keys was slightly off his line and, seeing this, Pitcher unleashed a quite superb shot at goal. Right footed, the ball took off aiming for the road behind the terrace, but then dipped sharply striking the underside of the bar as it flew in. After the game the midfielder said that it was probably the best goal that he'd ever scored, and had it been scored a month ago it would surely have won "Goal of the Season". But then maybe not, seeing as only 20 or so K's fans saw it.

Just one minute later and it got even better. Ronnie Green had been handed another start as he strove to impress the watching management team. The youngster skinned two or three defenders on the right and cut into the area. Just as he might have had an opportunity to shoot from in front of goal, he unselfishly laid the ball square to Eddie Akuamoah who had no trouble turning the ball into the practically open goal from eight yards. Two goals in two minutes was enough to deflate the home side, and from that point on the game, as a contest, was over.

Kingstonian should have been awarded a penalty of their own in the first half, after a Pitcher free-kick was headed up by Mark Harris. Akuamoah was waiting to control the ball, but before he could, Danny Adams swung his boot and kicked him around the midriff. Obviously feeling sorry for the relegation contenders, the referee waved play on.

Ronnie Green was having a good game, and came close to claiming a goal of his own when Simon Stewart hoofed forward. The forward was through on goal, but just pulled his shot wide of Keys' right-hand post from ten yards. But there was an even better chance waiting for him just around the corner. It was again Stewart who started the move - this time with a throw. Green picked the ball up on the right wing and easily passed Danny Adams. A one-two with Amara Simba saw Green receive the ball just outside the six yard box, but his effort was stopped by Chris Timons just in front of the line. Keys picked the ball up, but there was never any danger of the referee awarding a back-pass.

One presumed that the second half would see an up-turn in the home side's determination levels, but it never quite turned out that way. In fact, it took a quarter of an hour for them to produce an effort worthy of the name, and even then Farrelly just had to watch as Phil Power headed a left wing cross over. To be fair though (and we always are) Altrincham did have a fair amount of pressure, they just seemed to have trouble turning this into shots on goal.

As the game wore on though, K's got back into the game as an attacking force again. Simba took off on a run on the left and squared to Gary Patterson who was stood on the edge of the area. Quite why he ignored Eddie Akuamoah, who was totally alone in the middle, is a mystery. Patterson's shot was blocked. But the third goal wasn't far away, and it was another fine one.

Simba played a ball to Pitcher who was loitering out on the left-hand side of the area. He lifted the ball over Gary Talbot towards Simba who had run into the middle. The race was on - Simba versus Talbot - and it was the Frenchman who came out on top. He stuck out one of his overly-long legs and toe-poked the ball over the advancing Keys. Three-one meant game over, but of course meant that the season still had a few days left to run.

K's made a late triple substitution when O'Connor, Leworthy and Drewett came on for "some other players" (according to the announcer) but none had much effect on the game. The result was in the bag as soon as K's took the lead, and so it proved as the points were claimed. Altrincham now need to beat champions Kidderminster to confirm their Conference status for next year, and on this form that has to look unlikely. K's on the other hand moved into fifth place, and confirmed that this will be the best ever finish in the club's history, whatever the outcome of the next two games.

Wed 3rd May 2000
Moss Lane
Football Conference
Pitcher, Akuamoah, Simba
1Steve Farrelly
2Mike Lester
3Colin LuckettCautioned
4Matt Crossley
5Simon Stewart
6Mark Harris
7Gary Patterson
8Geoff Pitcher
9Eddie Akuamoah12
10Amara Simba14
11Ronnie Green15
12Joe O'Connor9
13Richard Hurst
14David Leworthy10
15Gary Drewett11
16Eddie Saunders
Man of the Match
Ronnie Green
Ronnie Green
Match Report By
Gary Ekins