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Southport 0-0 Kingstonian

The K's team which ran out at Haig Avenue was a very different one from that of twenty-four hours earlier. With work commitment aplenty, many players had had to go home leaving quite a few fringe players to start, and leaving the injured and nameless to make up the substitutes bench. David Leworthy was handed his first start since the last visit to Southport - March 14th - with Richard Hurst starting in goal, and joking that, should there be an injury, he'd play on-field with Steve Farrelly coming on between the sticks.

Southport were as disinterested in this game as Kingstonian. A top-half finish had been assured a while before, and the players must have wondered quite why they were expected to spend their Thursday evening in this way. But having said that they did all try. Arnold played in Stuart early on, and he was faced with a run at Richard Hurst on the right. He managed to get around the keeper and sent in his shot. Matt Crossley was covering though, and conceded the corner kick.

Leworthy was handed an early chance of his own by Luke Basford, but his lob was some way off target. McNiven came close for Southport with a shot after more good work by Stuart - who then shot over after a Saunders clearance. But it all just seemed like a practice match really. Nobody was getting too excited, and nobody seemed to be trying all that hard.

Derek Allan connected with a Junior Kadi corner but his effort was cleared off the line by Neil Grayston and McNiven then had another shot saved by Hurst, although the fact that it was straight at him must have helped. There was just time for Iain Hendrie to pick up a booking before the referee - getting ready for the Football League - brought the first half to a halt.

The second half really just provided more of the same though. The Southport crowd seemed to be more interested in getting their players to wave at them than urging their team on and the K's players seemed more interested in getting through the game without picking up a career Wembley-threatening injury.

Grayston had two chances for the home side, but he wasted both by blasting wide. And then an amusing interlude. Phil Wingfield lost his boot as Southport played the ball off for a throw to K's in the attacking third of the field. Luke Basford strolled over to take it and, while Wingfield remembered his mother's shoe-tying lessons, waited until K's were back up to their full compliment of eleven standing players. Wingfield was struggling, but just as he got the loop looped and the hoop hooped the referee showed Basford a yellow card for time-wasting.

Worse almost followed for Basford some time later when he attempted an horrendous foul on Morley as the Southport player started a run. The tackle was waist high and two footed - the only thing that saved the young left-back was the fact that he didn't connect. Had he done so, Morley may well have been forced to leave the field early.

Another chance did come K's way when Junior Kadi took a free-kick from the edge of the box. He struck it well, and had Dickinson beaten, but the ball went just wide, striking the stanchion. Arnold shot over for the home side before it happened - an injury to a K's player. Phil Wingfield was holding his left hamstring and looking to be substituted. So was it going to happen? Steve Farrelly in goal with Richard Hurst up front?

Sadly not, as instead, Geoff Pitcher, with a bad left calf, limped on to replace the limping Wingfield. Just to get him into the swing of things, within a minute of Pitcher's introduction, a K's player slammed the ball at his leg! Now that must have hurt.

The game ended not long after, and it has to be said that it was a very good performance from the travellers. There were only four or five players who started who would usually do so, and in Eddie Saunders and Derek Allan there were two players who were clearly desperate to move into that bracket. That said, it would probably be unfair to single out any one player, as they all did enough to keep a clean sheet. But just one thing: roll on an important game.

Thu 4th May 2000
Haig Avenue
Football Conference
1Richard Hurst
2Iain HendrieCautioned
3Luke BasfordCautioned
4Matt CrossleyCautioned
5Eddie Saunders
6Derek Allan
7Gary Patterson
8Junior Kadi
9Ronnie Green
10David Leworthy
11Phil Wingfield14
12Joe O'Connor
13Steve Farrelly
14Geoff Pitcher11
Man of the Match
Derek Allan
Derek Allan
Match Report By
Gary Ekins