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Doncaster Rovers 2-0 Kingstonian

For the fifth time in eight days, a K's team ran out for a game which, if truth be told, they didn't care all that much about. That was clear as soon as the goalkeeper was announced. Richard Hurst may well have been a good goalkeeper in the past, but these days Steve Farrelly is far and away the best at Kingstonian. The rest of the team selection was interesting - does this mean that Basford will play on Saturday, with Luckett in the midfield? Does it mean that Eddie Saunders has played himself into a place? We can now do no more than wait.

Doncaster were clearly taking this game far more seriously than their Southern counterparts. They'd bussed in some pop-lookalikes and a huge speaker system to entertain the crowd, and there were even fireworks when the teams emerged from the dressing rooms. Well, it was called a cup final, even if Doncaster seem to be the only team in the Conference that take this trophy seriously.

The game started entertainingly enough, with a good move down the Rovers' left. Foster played in Maamria and he shot at Hurst's near post. Clearly desperate for a goal, the crowd erupted and the sound system blasted music into the night air. And then they realised that the ball had struck the side netting. And then they all sat down again, pretending to their mates that they'd known it hadn't gone in. Yeah, right.

It would probably be slightly harsh on the K's players if it were said that they didn't try, because they did. They just didn't try quite as hard as they might have done. Wingfield headed a Pitcher free-kick wide before Tarkan Mustafa led a K's break. His cross was missed by Leworthy, and the ball then spun to Basford who also missed his shot. With both wing-backs out of position, Rovers tried to capitalise with a good move between Dave Penney and Maamria, who were allowed to run at Simon Stewart. The final shot from Maamria was well blocked by Stewart's ample frame.

Neil Campbell went close with a slightly bizarre overhead kick after Luke Basford had headed a cross up rather than away, but Hurst saved well. But then it all went wrong. Most K's supporters massed behind the goal were hoping that the team got through the game without any injuries, but Phil Wingfield disappointed everyone when he limped off holding his left hamstring. Again. Gary Drewett came on, but Wingfield must now be doubtful for Saturday.

Another Rovers break saw Kevin McIntyre play in Maamria to run at Hurst. Campbell was free in the middle and screaming for the ball, but the forward ignored him, choosing instead to shoot. Hurst did well to grasp the ball from up high, via Matt Crossley's midriff, giving Campbell a much needed excuse to shout abuse at Maamria. Greedy so and so.

There were more chances for the home side before the break, but most of them ended with a ball going across the K's goal with nobody getting a good enough touch. The closest they came to a goal was when Colin Luckett headed one such cross against Maamria only to see the ball spin inches wide.

The half-time entertainment was as good as the money spent allowed - clearly a fiver doesn't go all that far up North.

Things looked more promising for the Surrey lads in the second half. Indeed, Pitcher almost gave them the lead when a Mustafa cross was flicked out to him by Luckett, but the shot spun wide of Andy Warrington's goal. Another such cross caused consternation amongst the Rovers defenders as Akuamoah came very close to connecting, and any touch from any of the three defenders whom the ball passed would have handed K's the lead.

But when the break-through came it did so for the home side. A cross was sent in from the left by captain Dean Walling, Jason Minett shot against Colin Luckett's knee and the ball trickled over the line past Richard Hurst, who was desperately scrambling towards the ball. The music made another appearance and the Rovers celebrated.

K's took this as an excuse to try to get back into the game. Maybe they just wanted to hear more of the music. A corner from the right was awarded and, whilst Colin Luckett waited to take it, Simon Stewart and Walling had a "coming-together". Neither the referee nor the linesman saw Stewart's offence so the game continued. The corner landed on Eddie Saunders' head but his effort was slightly wide of goal.

Just after, Gary Drewett almost got the equaliser which some of K's play had deserved. It would have been just as scrappy as the Rovers' goal, but when in Rome... Mustafa played him in on the edge of the box and he shot goalwards. Substitute Kirkwood got in the way but succeeded only in deflecting the ball over his goalkeeper, but also just over his own bar.

The second goal came as the K's team tired visibly. A corner from the left was met by Walling. Saunders cleared only to see the ball come back in from the right and go towards Walling again. This time his effort was well saved by Hurst, but he couldn't hold it and the ball struck Penney and went in. Two unbelievably scrappy goals, but they proved to be enough.

The last ten minutes were played out with the Doncaster fans surrounding the pitch waiting to run on. The tannoy announcer helpfully said that, if they stayed off the pitch until the end, they could then do "anything you like". The whistle was met with the expected rush of fans towards players and players towards dressing room. The presentation was made on the pitch, with nobody but the fastest runners able to see anything. And so for the second season in a row Doncaster had won the trophy that nobody but them cares about. But then they did seem to care quite a lot. Strange.

The ending was a bit of a shame really. The fact that so many people rushed onto the pitch meant that the few K's supporters who had turned up were unable to say well done to the players. Oh, but then our season isn't over is it? We can always say well done on Saturday - in a real cup final.

Mon 8th May 2000
Belle Vue
Bob Lord Trophy Final
Doncaster Rovers2
1Richard Hurst
2Tarkan Mustafa
3Colin LuckettCautioned
4Matt Crossley
5Simon Stewart
6Eddie Saunders
7Luke Basford
8Geoff Pitcher
9Eddie Akuamoah
10David Leworthy14
11Phil Wingfield16
12Derek Allan
13Steve Farrelly
14Ronnie Green10
15Junior Kadi
16Gary Drewett11
Man of the Match
Eddie Saunders
Eddie Saunders
Match Report By
Gary Ekins