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Telford United 1-0 Kingstonian

As K's travelled back to Telford for the first 'proper' game of the season, it all had a familiar ring about it. The K's line up was pretty much what it was last season, with the only real exceptions being Wingfield and Marshall in place of Rattray and Leworthy. With Leworthy on the bench, just in case, most K's fans at Buck's Head were expecting the best. The best being three points.

Indeed, allowing for the potential of bias from this writer, K's looked far the better team. But, when the teams started playing, one began to realise that this was going to be a very scrappy game. When Eddie Akuamoah raced passed Fowler it was somewhat predictable that the Telford player would drag him back. Contact was made in the area, and perhaps a penalty should have been given. Had the contact been made outside of the area, it is perhaps more likely that a free-kick would have been given. But that's life. And there'd be many more chances, surely?

In fact there were. Though the next of them was for the home side. Steve Farralley came and punched, but only saw the ball fall to Fitzpatrick who, with plenty of time on the edge of the box, should really have done better.

Back at the other end Patterson managed to craft a shot on target which was a bit weak to trouble the keeper. As the game got nigglier, players were taking knocks all over the place. Stewart notably was the victim of some ill challenges and a lot of bad luck, whilst Mustafa had a hard knock given to him, on his first game back from injury.

After about half an hour it was evident that something was missing. There seemed to be very little of that Chapple magic out there. Indeed, it looked as if none of the K's 11, sporting their new away tops, had ever played together before. There seemed to be a lot of confusion in K's 'shakey looking' defence, exemplified on more than one time when Luckett had to hoof clear after his fellow defenders had allowed the threat of danger to become a reality.

But when K's used their heads, they still proved they could be dangerous. A quick throw by Simon Stewart on the left gave the ball to Pitcher who dribbled nearer the area, before delivering a deep back post cross which Harris headed back. What followed was a period of slow motion style football. The looping header bounced once in front of the unbalanced keeper and was very weakly headed goalwards by Marshall who was also falling off balance. The keeper then miraculously palmed the ball wide of the goal as he was still falling the other way.

It transpired that that would be the K's best chance of the game. Well, the best chance that K's created anyway. As K's further lost their shape Patterson and Mustafa collided embarrassingly whilst going for the same ball. But one more chance was created. Wingfield made his first notable contribution to the game by putting Akuamoah through. His pace allowed him to knock the ball past the keeper but was forced too wide. He played the ball back to Pitcher who tried to place a curler into the top corner where most K's fans present were wishing him to power it as hard as possible. That's not the Pitcher way, of course.

And then the tackles began to fly in. Patterson did well not to retaliate after an awful challenge by Doyle, which later saw Stewart and Bentley in a bit of argy bargy, and saw the latter booked for it. Murphy had a penalty appeal turned down, which brought the home fans to life. But Murphy soon caused more trouble when he forced Farralley into a good punch from his cross, and later put in a good shot from a very tight angle. K's were under the proverbial cosh at this time. And whilst it was always possible that Telford could score, it still came as a shock when they did, one minute before half time. A quick throw from the right was whipped in by the runner and powered towards the back post. Fittingly, the striker totally mis-hit his shot and sent the ball towards the other post. However Fitzpatrick was on hand to see the ball home, and put Telford one goal to the good.

Shooting towards the less awful of the two terrace sections in the second half, K's looked a bit more fired up. Indeed there were two penalty appeals very early on, one being Pitcher's nominal dive - so it doesn't really count - and one being an almost clear foul by Sandwith as he took down Mustafa when running away from the goal. It was somewhat strange the the referee didn't give any of the penalty decisions to either side when he had been so whistle happy in the rest of the match. Still, his worst was yet to come.

The Kingstonian defence began to look even more dis-organised. Only Luckett was doing himself any credit, and maybe Mustafa could be excused because of his recent injury. But the central defence, so reliable last season looked slow and sloppy, against an organised, but hardly skilful Telford team. Indeed, had Farralley not been in such fine form, then it could really have been more. He produced an amazing save from Malkin's header from point blank range follwing Sandwith's cross. Later, he had to race out towards Fitzpatrick to intercept the ball, and then found himself on the touchline, challenging a winger.

The funniest moment of the game occurred soon after this. A speculative lump into the area saw Bentley head the ball towards his own goal and force a fine save from Williams. The linesman and the ref both pointed for goal kicks, but the complaints from the visiting fans were so vociferous that they soon changed their minds.

Chapple tried to change things by bringing on Leworthy and Basford for Marshall and Luckett and later the ineffective (today anyway) Wingfield was replaced by hard man Newman. Leworthy's experience immediately showed. He is one yard ahead in his thinking and reading of the game, but he needs to be because he's at least that far behind when he's running. But the direction of the game was still the same. The one time Farralley was beaten (apart from the goal, of course) forced Stewart to head over from Sandwith's effort at the back post. Later Doyle's long range shot saw Farralley scramble towards his left hand post to pull of a great save palming the ball away from the top right hand corner.

Ford put in a good shot for Telford, and Pitcher had a couple of efforts for K's. But this game was over. In retrospect it must be hard travelling to Telford for your first competitive match after winning the FA Trophy. But it shouldn't be that hard. K's lost and deserved to do so. These are the games you have to win to gain promotion, and if you don't you should at least look equal to the opposition. Still, maybe we can just blame it on Buck's Head being a bogey ground. On a day when other bookies' favourites took harder wallopings, let's look forward to Dover and try to put this behind us.

Sat 14th Aug 1999
New Bucks Head
Football Conference
Telford United1
1Steve Farrelly
2Tarkan Mustafa
3Colin Luckett15
4Matt Crossley
5Simon Stewart
6Mark Harris
7Gary Patterson
8Geoff Pitcher
9Eddie Akuamoah
10Dwight Marshall12
11Phil Wingfield14
12David Leworthy10
13Richard Hurst
14Dan Newman11
15Luke Basford3
16Derek Allan
Man of the Match
Steve Farrelly
Steve Farrelly
Match Report By
Gary Ekins