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Chester City 0-0 Kingstonian

The bright red sun slowly disappeared behind the home end at The Deva Stadium in Chester and as it did so it took with it Kingstonian's three year association with the Nationwide Confrence. Ironically it was almost 4 years to the day (the final Thursday in April) that Geoff Pitcher's 30 yarder against Oxford City started the roller coaster ride. Colin Luckett had a second half penalty saved in that game, as he did at Chester, but unfortunately there was no Pitcher magic to rescue him, or K's season, as the inevitable finally happened, and a 0-0 draw condemned them to Ryman League football next season. There is of course no discrace in coming away from Chester with a point and under any normal circumstances this would have been a decent result. Despite keeping 4 clean sheets in 5 games and coming away with creditable draws at Hereford and Southport, the fact remains that K's took an incredible 5 points from a possible 33 that is why they found themselves in the desperate situation from which there was no return.

The game was played in a very strange atmosphere with a sparse crowd and wintry sunshine, with K's having to win and Chester playing for no more than pride and their contracts for next season it was obviously the visitors who had to take the initiative. They did so and had Phil Wingfield scored as early as the 2nd minute when he seemed to just walk through a rather static home defence things may have been different but his shot bobbled wide. As the game went on it was Chester who always looked the more likely. Geoff Pitcher fired a free kick straight at keeper Wayne Brown (no not the fireman!) who made a comfortable save. But it was K's keeper Jimmy Glass who was the busier after that when on 18 minutes player/assitant manager Paul Beesley was put through, Glass forced him wide and when he took a touch too many Glass was able to recover with a Derek Allan-esque challenge to concede a corner.

The game rather went through the motions after that and had a very end of season feel to it and at times Chester played at little more than walking pace. Gary Patterson was busy in midfield but couldn't get anything going for the K's as tensions on the terraces rose. They would have risen even further had Mark Beard not cleared off the line in the dying minutes of the half to save what would have been a bizarre goal. Darren Wright was put through right in the middle of the goal, standing on the penalty spot his shot was blocked by Jimmy Glass' legs, rebounded back off the Chester forward and rolled agonisingly towards the empty net, but Beard recovered and cleared the danger. Beard was then lucky not to be sent off as he took a swipe at a Chester player after a tackle. Rather than being sent off he was carried off with an ankle injury and the referee allowed him to carry on after treatment, although he was replaced by Eddie Akuamoah at half time.

With K's attacking the 34 fans who had made the trip in the second half and who were as vocal as they have been since Bristol City, the team seemed to respond in the early exchanges of the second period. This meant that the game opened up a lot more and became more of a contest. Chester had somewhat bizarrely substituted goalkeeper Wayne Brown with youngster Phil Priestley whose first contribution was to fumble a simple looking Sammy Winston shot and minutes later he was very fortunate to get away with clearing a backpass as Geoff Pitcher ran in and missed contact by a fraction. But as ever it was K's defensive responsibilities that let them down once again. Geoff Pitcher lunged into a tackle just inside the box and after a few seconds' hesitation referee Mr Smith pointed to the spot.

It was Darren Wright who stepped up to make K's task even more impossible than it already was but, as on Tuesday night when Jimmy Glass kept them alive with a penalty save, he repeated the trick - this time diving to his left and pushing the ball onto the inside of the post. K's fans went wild, but then there was the heart in the mouth moment as the ball came back to Wright, but fortunately for K's he blazed wildly over the bar. The relief was tangible.

Moments later K's were screaming for a penalty of their own when Akuamoah appeared to be upended by Priestly. The referee waved away the shouts, but then on 62 minutes a Colin Luckett corner on the left caused all sorts of panic in the six yard box. The ball dropped almost on the goal line where Winston, Harris and Patterson all had shots blocked by a combination of keeper and desperate defending. The ball eventually squirmed out of the box, Winston - who played well all night - got to it first and as he ran into the box he was bundled over and Mr Smith threw K's a lifeline with a penalty of their own.

Colin Luckett, normally so reliable from 12 yards, struck the penalty well and the only thing wrong with it was that Priestly guessed correctly and made an outstanding save. Jimmy Glass was forced to make a point blank range save as the game entered the last 15 minutes and tempers began to flare. Patterson, Winston, Allan and Glass were all booked for their involvement in separate fracas as K's became more desperate. Mark Jones and Ronnie Green were thrown on to replace Mark Harris and Phil Wingfield in a last gasp attempt to at least delay the inevitable. But it wasn't to be. Winston's overhead kick flashed across goal and Ronnie Green couldn't quite get there to turn it in and the realisation dawned on all in the K's contingent. The final whistle was blown, tears were shed and an eerie silence descended on the away end. As the players, some in tears, others head in hands mirroring the scene on the terraces, trudged off, a round of "We love you Kingston" arose, banners were displayed and lots and lots of happy memories came flooding back.

Thu 26th Apr 2001
Deva Stadium
Football Conference
Chester City0
1Jimmy GlassCautioned
2Mark Boyce
3Colin Luckett
4Derek AllanCautioned
5Simon Stewart
6Mark Harris15
7Gary PattersonCautioned
8Geoff Pitcher
9Sammy WinstonCautioned
10Phil Wingfield16
11Mark Beard12
12Eddie Akuamoah11
13Adrian Blake
14David Bass
15Ronnie Green6
16Mark Jones10
Man of the Match
Colin Luckett
Colin Luckett
Match Report By
Gary Ekins