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Hereford United 0-2 Kingstonian

Last season's corresponding fixture was played late on in the season, just before the FA Trophy final, and an almost total Kingstonian reserve side lost two-nil. This time around it was exactly the same story, except it was the Londoners who came away with the win - albeit one claimed by a slightly more familiar eleven than last year. The defence and midfield were pretty much normal, but the last three announced were O'Connor, Kadi and Boylan.

Hereford started in fine form and went close when Gavin Williams took off on an impressive run on the right. His cross was met by Olan Rodgerson, but he headed over. Junior Kadi picked up a slightly harsh tenth minute booking, supposedly for a foul - and that was just a pre-cursor to what was to come. And as if Hereford weren't on top enough, Geoff Pitcher decided to give them a hand, passing straight to Paul Parry, whose run and shot were blocked by Mark Harris. The ball rebounded to Parry, but his follow-up shot was lifted over his own bar by Eddie Saunders.

Hereford were clearly on top in the first few minutes of this game and the strong K's midfield needed to get a bit more involved. Gary Patterson did this by picking the ball up from Pitcher. He was clearly fouled by White, and as soon as he hit the ground Patto bounced back up waving his fist towards the aggressor. That no yellow card was produced, for what was a worse challenge than Kadi's earlier effort, was like waving a red rag to the ball-winner. Patto sprinted after the referee, Mark Harris got involved, but K's finally got on with taking the free-kick.

Just afterwards a ball was played over the top of the Kingstonian defence for Leroy May to chase. Eddie Saunders was the clear favourite to win the ball, and indeed he got there first. But his pass was not exactly what was needed in the situation, as he smashed the ball at the also on-rushing Parry. May continued his run and was in exactly the right position to meet Parry's cross, but he got his angles slightly wrong sending the ball trickling past the far post. Just in case anybody didn't realise that Saunders had made a complete howler, he raised his arm and waved an apology around to the rest of the defence.

K's finally got into the opposition half when Pitcher and O'Connor played a one-two. The shot came from Pitcher from some 20 yards and cleared the right hand post handsomely. But at least it was a shot. At the other end, United were still creating chances. Parry crossed from the left, the ball by-passed May and Harris and it looked odds on that Rodgerson would score. Somehow Colin Luckett got a toe in to divert the ball for a corner.

The midfield battle was still on-going, and Gary Patterson was still getting involved. A bouncing ball was challenged for by both Patterson and Lane and the referee, Mr T.Kettle (seriously), decided that the K's number seven's foot had been dangerously high. A free-kick was awarded to Hereford and a yellow card was waved at Patto. Again, slightly harshly. From the free-kick Hereford again came close to taking the lead. The far post ball was headed back in and May headed just wide from an offside position.

But the most contentious decision of the half was still to come. A high ball was competed for by Leroy May and Mark Harris. Whether it was to gain height or to beat up Harris, May's elbow clearly made contact on the bridge of the K's skipper's nose and Harris fell to the ground. By the time the physio arrived there was ample amounts of blood around to suggest that he probably wasn't play acting. The referee pulled May aside, had a long chat and then produced a card. But it was yellow. There may (no pun intended) never have been a clearer case of elbow to head before in football. May deserved a red card and of that there can be no doubt.

And so instead of Hereford playing on with ten men, they continued with their full compliment whilst Mark Harris was told to leave the pitch until the blood had stopped flowing. While he was receiving treatment K's managed to win a corner on the right wing, and after a brief inspection by Kettle, Harris was allowed to re-enter the fray. Many a spectator suggested that it would indeed be perfect if he went and scored.

The corner was taken by Pitcher and was sent just a little too far past the back post. But somebody did remarkably well to turn the ball back into the mixer and guess what? Mark Harris, with cotton wool in place, strode forward and struck a sweet right-footed volley into the bottom right hand corner of the net. K's might not have deserved it but it didn't really matter. Justice - such a sweet word.

The second half saw no let-up in the Hereford pressure and it was again a test for the K's defence and midfield to stand up to. An early shot came in from Williams, but Farrelly did his bit by getting low down to his left to save. O'Connor was almost crafted a chance by a Luckett - Patterson - O'Connor combination, but Cooksey did well to claim before the striker could get there. And then back to the referee.

It has to be said that the next K's booking, for Pitcher, was deserved. He was running around the midfield like a chicken which has recently been parted from its head. First he tried to challenge White, then Rodgerson and then, right in front of Geoff Chapple, he pushed White straight over the line. Chapple shook his head in a "what can I do about that?" mood and the referee rightly produced the yellow card.

Hereford ludicrously appealed for a penalty just after, when Colin Luckett timed his tackle on Williams to perfection. The referee, for once, decided not to blow his whistle - perhaps he was running short of breath from all of the free-kicks that he had awarded. Pitcher was sailing close to the wind when he committed another foul, this one just by the left-back corner flag. So to speak. The free-kick was sent in and won by Snape. His header was a good one, but just not good enough as it struck the top of the bar and sailed away for a goal kick.

Just fifteen minutes were gone in the second period when O'Connor was sent through by Pitcher. His shot was just over, but it came as a welcome relief to the embattled Kingstonian defence. Another two yellow cards were picked up, the first by Eddie Saunders for a foul on the right. Steve Farrelly pointed out that the afore-mentioned foul really didn't merit a yellow card and received a yellow card for his pains. Bringing the total to five.

But instead of getting even more upset at the referee, K's did the next best thing and scored a second. Pitcher pressured Matthew Clarke into playing a poor ball into the middle, Joe O'Connor stuck out his foot (the one on the end of his arm) and played the ball to Pitcher. There can be no calmer man in a one-on-one, and Pitcher did exactly the right thing, shimmying once and sending the ball just inside the right-hand post with his left foot. Hereford complained that O'Connor had handled, which he had, but no cards were shown, even though four of their players simply stood sulking and moaning at the linesman for a good eight minutes. Almost.

It was just after the goal that the referee totally lost the plot. Patterson committed a foul on one of the Hereford substitutes on the K's right, the whistle went, and as soon as the hand moved towards the back pocket hearts were in mouths. Yes it was a foul, and yes he'd been booked already, but this foul quite simply did not merit a caution. The red card came out and after some disbelief Patto headed down the tunnel. This could well mean that Patterson misses the Trophy final at Wembley, and the fact is that he simply didn't deserve to be sent off.

There was still time for James and Harris to pick up cautions of their own to make the final score seven-five to K's (counting both of Patterson's) in what was not an overly dirty game. It was competitive in the midfield, and Leroy May can count himself lucky to have picked up just a yellow card, but there is no way that this game had enough angst in it to merit twelve cautions. At the end the Hereford fans booed the referee, and outside the ground some suggested that he was biased towards Kingstonian. But had that been the case K's would surely not be poring over the rule book to discover whether Patterson will be available on the 13th or not.

But having said all of that it was a decent three points for the visitors. Yes they only had about four shots all game, and yes the second was created by a hand, but it was still a battling performance against a team on the top of their form. Top marks go to the defence for keeping the decent United attack at bay, and particular praise must go to stand-in skipper Mark Harris. With a plug up his nose he led from the front with his goal and then marshalled the defence superbly.

Mon 24th Apr 2000
Edgar Street
Football Conference
Hereford United0
Harris, Pitcher
1Steve FarrellyCautioned
2Tarkan Mustafa
3Colin Luckett
4Derek Allan
5Eddie SaundersCautioned
6Mark HarrisCautioned
7Gary PattersonSent Off
8Geoff PitcherCautioned
9Joe O'Connor16
10Junior KadiCautioned15
11Lee Boylan
12Gary Drewett
13Richard Hurst
14Matt Crossley
15Luke Basford10
16Iain Hendrie9
Man of the Match
Mark Harris
Mark Harris
Match Report By
Gary Ekins