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Cheltenham Town 0-1 Kingstonian

It is a great boast to claim that your team is playing for one of the biggest trophies in domestic football. Of course, it is advisable to avoid the ridicule from friends that would occur if one let on that 'big' refers to the size of the trophy and not, in fact, the esteem of the competition itself. And so it was that K's played in their fourth Charity Shield type game in recent years, all of which have been away games. Last year's equivalent was at Sutton in a match about which no-one cared. This year though, the trip was to Cheltenham. And still no-one cared.

K's named a near full strength side. Leworthy, who will be suspended in the next three games, was rested to allow Marshall his first start since sunny August. Stewart remained sidelined after his injury picked up on Saturday, so Harris and Allan joined skipper Crossley in the middle of the defence. Cheltenham also named a strong side so all the ingredients of a good match were present. Unfortunately the recipe was not watering the mouths of the locals, nor the Kingston faithful, and the low crowd meant the atmosphere lacked a certain spark. Sparks that were well needed to warm everyone up on such a chilly night.

Cheltenham started the game looking like the team in a higher league. Farrelly's goal mouth was put under pressure immediately by Grayson & Co. and he was forced to make a number of good saves early on in the game. A fine dive to his left saw him smother the ball, and then he was forced to push wide one effort and the fabulously tip a Grayson effort over the bar. The Robins were very unlucky not to score from the resulting corner which saw Howells' looping header crash against the bar. Immediately after this K's were again looking the most likely to concede a goal and it was with some prowess that Farrelly exerted his dominance in his penalty area.

Yet it didn't take long for K's to show they are a mere four places below Cheltenham in the league and have a very fine away record. Marshall fired in an impressive long shot after about twenty minutes. Soon afterwards a good Wingfield cross caused panic in the Cheltenham box as the ball went up and down, Book couldn't retrieve it and Akuamoah was unlucky not to score. Another effort came from a free-kick when Pitcher chipped the ball over the wall and Marshall raced into the area where he was upended. A spot kicked was claimed, but it never looked as though one was going to be given.

But Kingstonian took the lead, and it was literally on the stroke of half time. A challenge in the middle of the park saw the ball smacked against Patterson's knee. The rebound saw it head towards the goal with Marshall in hot pursuit presenting him a one on one with the keeper. He drew Book out and dummied him leaving him sitting on his bottom and calmly slotted the ball into the empty net, sending the travelling nineteen K's-ites wild. There were literally only seconds of the re-start before half-time was sounded and the teams went in for their cups of tea.

Which was more than the K's fans could get as the Snacks Van Man got fed up and went home. The teams came out for the second half with Cheltenham visibly more keen to lay their hands on the shield. Either that or they were seeking overtime from the potential of extra time and penalties. Grayson fired in a fantastic left foot shot across the goal and was unlucky not to see it hit its target.

After 50 minutes K's could have gone two up. Pitcher played a neat ball to Wingfield. The winger then a) played a firm but accurate ball to Marshall, b) mis-hit a shot which ended up at Marshall's feet ( * Delete As Applicable). Either way, Marshall found himself well inside the area with only the keeper to beat. But, unlike his earlier opportunity, he showed none of the composure of his goal scoring chance, and simply blasted the ball towards Book's stomach and saw the ball easily parried away.

Neil Grayson, who had perhaps not deserved the stick he was getting, soon committed the type of challenge he is notorious for. Mustafa was the unfortunate victim and reaffirmed beliefs that Grayson is a dirty, dirty player. But the aggressor was soon aggrieved when running towards the area and held back by Harris, who simply couldn't keep up with him. In the end a corner was won, but had it not been for that tugging the potential for further damage was great.

The Robins really looked up for the cup shield, and a looping header, again by Howells, went all too close for comfort. Minutes later Brough's screamer produced the best from Farrelly as he dived to tip the ball over the bar. The resulting corner actually saw Farrelly punch both the ball and, inadvertently, one of his defenders, and then catch amongst a crowded box from a cross from the left. Grayson should really have headed an equaliser when he glanced a header wide from a matter of yards after a great cross from the left.

Yet K's were still producing some chances. Crossley, remembering his glory at the same ground only months previous, prowled upfield but somehow sent his header backwards. Still, Akuamoah's header from the follow up was very close as he headed over from a tight angle. Goals certainly were hard to come by tonight. On other occasions McAuley would not have hit wide from six yards, and Grayson would not have hooked the ball over from close range after a cross whipped in from the right flank in the closing minutes.

But the one goal was enough to win this game and then the celebrations proceeded. Cheltenham received their Runners-Up medals and then it was left to Crossley to Lift the enormous JC Thompson Championship Shield. As the team tried to sneak off into the tunnel the travelling messes demanded they bring the shield over and parade their achievement. The shield was won and can be added to this year's Team Talk Trophy and the FA Trophy. Forget the new stand, build a new Trophy Cabinet !!

Tue 5th Oct 1999
Football Conference C Shield
Cheltenham Town0
1Steve Farrelly
2Tarkan Mustafa
3Colin Luckett
4Matt Crossley
5Mark Harris
6Derek Allan
7Gary Patterson
8Geoff PitcherCautioned
9Eddie Akuamoah
10Dwight Marshall
11Phil Wingfield
12Danny Smith
13Richard Hurst
14David Leworthy
15Junior Kadi
16Luke Basford
Man of the Match
Steve Farrelly
Steve Farrelly
Match Report By
Gary Ekins