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Sutton United 1-1 Kingstonian

K's will take the psychological advantage back to Kingsmeadow for the second leg of this FA Trophy tie after scoring a much deserved equaliser twelve minutes from time.

For the second time this season against Surrey's worst K's were caught half asleep and found themselves trailing as early as the fourth minute. A typical Sutton style hoof up field was ignored by the back line allowing Sammy Winston to nip through and lift the ball over Farrelly to give his side an early lead.

K's responded well, Pitcher in particular seizing the game by the scruff of the neck and dictating play from midfield. Indeed it was Pitcher himself who almost scored an equaliser for the K's bursting through the Sutton defence only to see his shot come back off the post, with Howells well beaten. The ball rebounded to Colin Luckett, whose low drive again beat the keeper but was hacked off the line by Richard Skelly.

It was Pitcher again who created K's next chance, sending a through ball to Amara Simba which sliced the ageing Sutton defence in two. However the former French International tried to delicately chip Howells when perhaps he should have opted for power the keeper saving comfortably.

Sutton almost extended their lead towards the end of the half when they caught the K's on the break following a corner. They hoofed the ball as high as is physically possible and were lucky enough to get on the end and control the clearance. A good cross was met by the head of Suttons' No 11, who brought out the best in Farrelly, an amazing reflex save pushing the ball away for a corner.

A good run by Lee Boylan was brought to a premature end by a cynical tackle from Andy Riley. However the referee, awful throughout, decided that the youngsters quick feet and turn of pace was obviously unfair against such old opposition as Riley and Boylan was booked for diving. He responded well to this grave injustice by almost setting up Simba with a low pass across the face of the box, however Howells again came to Sutton's rescue claiming the ball before it was able to reach its intended recipient.

This was typical of Sutton throughout the game, any indication of K's superior skill was ended by foul play and K's almost profited just before half time, when after another fine run Pitcher was felled on the edge of the box. He picked himself up to fire the set piece over the wall and just over the bar.

The second half started in very much the way the first half had ended with K's in the ascendance. Boylan was unlucky early on when he saw his powerful shot deflected by a Sutton defender after a good run from Mustafa down the right flank.

Gary Patterson burst through the midfield before playing a perfect through ball for Eddie to chase, leaving him one on one with the keeper, however Howells was equal to his effort this time. Mustafa and Pitcher both mis-hit shots when well placed and Sutton were on the rack. A great move saw Patterson hit a volley from just inside the box which flashed wide, and shortly after Pitcher fired a volley well over.

Ronnie Green was introduced for Lee Boylan and the move paid dividends when K's finally got their well deserved equaliser. Colin Luckett's free kick cannoned off the wall into the air. Howells came running out flapping at the high ball and Green beat him to it, lifting it high towards the centre of the goal with Howells now totally out of position and stranded. It seemed to take an age before the ball dropped back down where Mark Harris was on hand to nod K's level, although it took an even longer age before the referee decided to award the goal.

The tie is nicely set for K's to finish the job at Kingsmeadow and return to Wembley for the second successive season. They never really got out of the lower gears and can play a lot better, although they still played well enough to hold Surreys' third team at home. Sutton's lack of ambition was typified in the way they took the lead in the fourth minute of a two legged game and tried to hold out the duration.

Sutton have done well to get this far in the competition, but their kick and rush football, cynical disrupting tactics, (and the inclusion of Andy Riley!) do not deserve an airing at Wembley, and would only prove to be an embarrassment to themselves and non league football in general. K's skill and experience of just generally winning this season, as well as in big cup games should see them through and it would be a major upset if they were beaten.

Man of the Match: Pitcher. Absolutely superb, Sutton had no answer at all to his driving attacking play. One of only a few K s players who fulfilled their potential today.

Sat 1st Apr 2000
Gander Green Lane
FA Trophy Semi final 1st leg
Sutton United1
1Steve Farrelly
2Tarkan Mustafa
3Colin Luckett
4Matt Crossley
5Derek AllanCautioned
6Mark Harris
7Gary Patterson
8Geoff Pitcher
9Eddie Akuamoah
10Lee BoylanCautioned12
11Amara Simba
12Ronnie Green10
13Richard Hurst
14Joe O'Connor
15Eddie Saunders
Man of the Match
Geoff Pitcher
Geoff Pitcher
Match Report By
Gary Ekins