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Kingstonian 0-1 Bristol City

The FA Cup. The competition that ends well before Christmas preparations are complete. Except this year. Here we were, one week before Valentines' Day and K's were still talking about it. And what's more the cameras of everybody's favourite broadcasting company had come along to allow the nation to see just how far along the ground development had progressed.

The match - as it turned out - was something of a one-sided affair, with K's team selection giving an early sign that the defensive displays seen in previous rounds would once more be relied upon. Phil Wingfield - the most talked about carpet cleaner following his Ashton Gate strike - hadn't recovered from his hamstring strain on Saturday and so followed last May's Wembley disappointment with more. Mark Boyce - whose last start was back on New Year's Day - was the lucky one handed the chance to impress the nation. This meant that K's would be playing with just Ian Duerden up front, with Boyce and Eddie Akuamoah attempting to help out on either wing.

City had perhaps learned a lesson or two over the previous eleven days and seemed to be treating their opponents with slightly more respect - with Tony Thorpe, scorer of that equaliser, starting. And it was the side in green who started the better, although Geoff Pitcher did hit an early shot high and wide.

Eddie Saunders, who some had blamed for Thorpe's late equaliser, made two early slips and either could have proved disastrous. The first saw a clearance go straight to Thorpe who played a fine ball to Louis Carey on the right. His cross was heading in the direction of Peter Beadle, but Mark Harris did well to meet the ball with his head and lift the ball over his own bar for a corner. And then another mistake from the ex-Giant allowed Thorpe to play in Scott Murray on the right. His cross avoided Harris, but nobody else could get close as K's watched relieved as the ball went off for a throw.

The next chance fell to Clist, and gave Gavin Kelly a chance to impress the watching Tottenham coach. Pitcher lost possession in City's half and they broke quickly providing Mickey Bell with a chance to cross. He did so and found Clist's head some ten yards out. The flicked header looped just enough to scrape in under the bar, but Kelly did superbly well to tip the ball over with a fine save.

Harris went close at the other end and Pitcher had a couple of "speculative" (to say the least) efforts on goal, before the best chance of the half was crafted. A terrible pass (and that's being kind) from Patterson fell to Bell who immediately played in Tinnion. In turn, he played in Brown and all of a sudden City had a three-on-one break. Thorpe was free in the middle with Murray slightly further over, but luckily for K's, Bell's pass landed between the two. Yet Murray recovered and had to do nothing more than roll the ball across to allow Thorpe to score from six yards. Instead, he decided to shoot himself as everybody held their breath. They needn't have bothered as the shot went nowhere near the goal. And then the inquest in K's defence started.

The second fourth half started well for those in hoops, with more possession in the first five minutes than they had achieved in the previous forty-five. Or so it seemed. Indeed, the best chance of the night came and went in those first few minutes. A long hoof up-field from Gavin Kelly was well held up by Ian Duerden, but once again he looked up to see no support. However, Keith Millen made his one slip of the evening allowing the hairy one to scamper past and cross. By this time another player had made it into Bristol's half, and that player was Eddie Akuamoah. The cross was a good one, Eddie met it some eight yards out, but misdirected slightly as the ball went just wide of the far post. Three more minutes passed before K's crafted their next chance - a Colin Luckett cross falling to Mark Boyce - but he was flagged offside just before Steve Phillips could save.

Tony Thorpe was given another chance just after, but the cross from Murray was just too high and Kelly watched the ball spin a long way wide, when a lower delivery would have produced a threatening effort. And then Mark Harris hit the bar! Duerden chased a Pitcher chip on the left, and the striker laid the ball back to Harris. A swing of his left foot produced a poor cross and groans from the crowd, but Phillips misjudged slightly and must have been relieved when the ball struck the angle of post and bar and bounced out.

Scott Murray was handed a fine chance following two flicks, from Beadle and Thorpe respectively, when he found himself on the edge of the area with just Eddie Saunders to beat. The defender made it easy for him by diving in and missing man and ball totally, but Gavin Kelly still had his wits about him and did well to smother the ball before Murray could get a shot in.

Derek Allan blasted a long ranger wide, but by this time it was clearly the second division outfit who were on top. Thorpe waltzed past Mark Beard and Allan on the left, and cut in to shoot, seeing his shot go not far wide. And then a quick break saw City get the ball into the net. A quick roll out from Phillips saw Brown run fully fifty yards with little resistance. His pass was perfectly timed for Thorpe to meet, and the striker did the rest by beating Kelly low to his left. However, the linesman had other ideas and raised his flag to rule out, what was, a perfectly good goal.

The breakthrough for City finally came in the eighty-eighth minute. Brown crossed from the left and Beadle flicked on to Murray on the right. Luckett - by this time with his head bandaged, after a bizarre few minutes in which four players were down with head injuries at the same time - went to challenge and did well to block the shot. Unfortunately the ball went straight back to Murray who shot for a second time. Harris was covering, his right foot re-directed the ball ever so slightly, the ball crept inside the far post and Bristol led for the first time in the tie. Murray raced over to his supporters who showed their contempt for K's new main stand by pushing a large chunk of it out of their way.

K's finally put another striker on when Boyce made way for Sammy Winston, but by this time it really did look to be too little too late. City played the ball into the corners on a couple of occasions, but did manage to create one more chance when Bell's shot from the edge of the area struck Beadle and looked to be going in, until Kelly flung himself to his left and tipped the ball away.

The last chance for K's fell to Pitcher, who was awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box. His effort went very high and very wide, and just a few more seconds were played before the whistle went to signify the end of Kingstonian's best ever FA Cup run.

Eleven days before, tears had flowed at the end of the game, as City cruelly denied K's a place in the last sixteen. But at the end of the replay there were no tears and no need for disappointment. As Chapple later said, the better team had won. The performance may have been a slightly negative one, but if truth be told, that was probably the only way that City would have lost.

And as the cameras were packed away, Kingston heads could be held high - and not just for the performance on the night, but for the five that had gone before too. This is a team that has proved that it is capable of playing at a higher standard than the Conference. All that remains now is for the cup performances to be repeated in the occasional league game. And then who knows what next season may bring.

Wed 7th Feb 2001
Kingsmeadow Stadium
FA Cup 4th round replay
Bristol City1
1Gavin Kelly
2Mark Beard
3Colin LuckettCautioned
4Derek Allan
5Eddie Saunders
6Mark Harris
7Gary Patterson
8Geoff Pitcher
9Ian Duerden
10Mark Boyce15
11Eddie Akuamoah
12David Bass
13Luke Basford
14Simon Stewart
15Sammy Winston10
16Ronnie Green
Man of the Match
Gavin Kelly
Gavin Kelly
Match Report By
Gary Ekins