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Kingstonian 2-0 Nuneaton Borough

With another Trophy semi-final place being won just four days previously, it was clear from this game that the league season really is over at Kingsmeadow. The 985 brave souls who turned out to see the "heroes of Haig Avenue" (as labelled by Brendan Frawley) might have been slightly disappointed when they didn't all turn up - but that's something that everybody is going to have to get used to all over again.

Derek Allan sat out as he is just one booking away from suspension, and had he picked one up in this game he'd have been forced to miss the Gander-Green leg of the semi-final. In his place was Eddie Saunders - on-loan from relegation doomed Woking - making his debut at Surrey's number one club. Also out was David Leworthy who merely stood and watched from the tunnel, replaced by Lee Boylan. Steve Farrelly, meanwhile, allowed Matt Crossley to take over kicking duty.

Ex-K Delton "just needs the one" Francis lined up for the visitors in the number ten shirt and he came close to opening the scoring early on, when he headed a left-wing cross just over at the Kingston Road End. The Akuamoah version of Eddie set up Boylan for a shot from the spot, but the striker was to waste far better opportunities than this on this sunny afternoon so it was no surprise that the effort spun well wide. Boylan then helped set up Mustafa for a shot from the right which just skimmed Chris MacKenzie's bar.

Most people will remember that MacKenzie had the game of his life on his last visit to Kingsmeadow when Leyton Orient won a nil-nil draw in front of the Sky cameras last year. Unfortunately for the goalkeeper, that was clearly a one-off. He proved this many times during the afternoon, first of all when Wingfield sent in a right-footed volley which he fumbled, then just managed to grab, before it went over the line.

Just sixteen minutes were on the clock when the sheer confusion of having two Eddie's in the K's team proved too much, so Akuamoah was replaced by Joe O'Connor, allowing the youngster the chance to play almost a whole game against his old side.

Ged Murphy produced the best from Steve Farrelly when he connected with a right-wing cross making the big man dive low down to his left to turn the ball aside for a corner. At the other end, Pitcher produced a superb run which was thwarted just short of the goal-line by Barry Williams and the midfielder then sent in a shot which was deflected luckily into MacKenzie's grateful arms.

A Phil Wingfield right-wing corner caused consternation amongst the K's team when Gary Patterson was quite clearly pushed in the back with both of Drew Broughton's hands. Referee Mr.K.Woolmer was standing roughly five yards away staring intently at the incident, yet waved away all protests. Whilst these were going on, the ball was turned back into the middle and Geoff Pitcher shot from the edge of the box. The ball slammed into the bar with MacKenzie nowhere, bounced upwards and was then headed wide by Mark Harris.

Phil Wingfield, still enjoying a splendid run of form, sent in the first shot of the second half, but this was easily saved by the Borough keeper. And then an amusing incident. Some readers may remember when a hole appeared in Woking's pitch back in January of 1999 delaying the game for some five minutes. Well it seems that, not only have K's borrowed Saunders and Hendrie from their Surrey counterparts, they have also taken that hole on loan. For a good five minutes the players stood around waiting for the hole which had appeared near the half-way line to be filled in. Mark Harris tried standing in it, others tried pointing at it whilst others took a seat on the bench. Finally a man with a bucket - that bastion of professionally run football clubs - ran on and filled it with sand.

Broughton produced another fine save from Farrelly when a cleverly worked Nuneaton free-kick ended with the number nine sending in a shot which was just tipped over by the keeper's right hand. The Borough fans all thought that they'd been awarded a penalty just after, when Shaun Wray took off on a mazy run which ended with him in the box. A challenge was made by Harris, Wray fell to the ground and the whistle went. Whilst the Boro' fans celebrated everybody else realised that the referee was pointing the wrong way. A yellow card was quite rightly produced for the diver and K's started again with a free-kick.

Hendrie had been introduced in place of Wingfield and he was then involved in starting a move which ended with Pitcher sending a brilliant bicycle kick just under the bar, only for MacKenzie to save. The debutante then took the eightieth minute corner which finally saw the deadlock broken. He passed short to Mustafa, who sent in a cross from the right. It was slightly too long, but Patterson managed to turn it back in with a deft left-footed chip. The ball was met at the far post by Mark Harris' head, but there was not much chance that he could score, as the ball was almost on the goal-line outside the post. So he headed it back towards goal where Chris MacKenzie helpfully turned the ball over his own line. The goal will go down as a Harris header, but only just.

And then just three minutes later, the lead was doubled. Pitcher set Mustafa free on the right and the wing-back scampered towards the Boro' box. Looking up he would have seen both O'Connor and Boylan in the box which chances to score, so he sent in a very good ball across the front of the six yard box. First to receive the ball was O'Connor who couldn't quite get in a shot. But what he had done was to send the ball goalwards where Boylan could easily score.

Now let's set the scene: Boylan was running in at the far post, the ball was trickling towards said post, roughly half a yard out. Needless to say, the goalkeeper was nowhere to be seen. And so Boylan had the easiest of easy chances to re-open his account for K's. Yet somehow the number ten managed to miss the open goal. There were defenders around, but none putting undue pressure on him. Luckily for him, his embarrassment was saved somewhat when the ball trickled back to O'Connor in the middle, who then did his best to miss from a yard out. Somehow though, the ball crossed the line anyway, O'Connor had his first league goal and against his old club at that. While everybody else celebrated, Boylan stood turning red all on his own.

There was still time for another fantastic save from Farrelly when Broughton sent in another low shot, but after six extra minutes, the game finally ended. It has to be said that K's didn't really appear to be trying that hard, particularly in the first half, yet somehow they came out as two goal winners. With all of the other semi-finalists losing, confidence must be high, and if the team manage to produce results like these in the remaining league games, maybe it won't be a case of "Oh, when's the next Trophy game?" after all.

Sat 18th Mar 2000
Kingsmeadow Stadium
Football Conference
Harris, O'Connor
Nuneaton Borough0
1Steve Farrelly
2Tarkan Mustafa
3Colin Luckett
4Matt Crossley
5Eddie Saunders
6Mark Harris
7Gary PattersonCautioned
8Geoff Pitcher
9Eddie Akuamoah14
10Lee Boylan
11Phil Wingfield12
12Iain Hendrie11
13Richard Hurst
14Joe O'Connor9
15Junior Kadi
16Luke Basford
Man of the Match
Steve Farrelly
Steve Farrelly
Match Report By
Gary Ekins