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Doncaster Rovers 0-2 Kingstonian

The script may as well have been published three weeks ago. It was on January 20th that news came through that Ian Duerden, who was on loan with Kingstonian during October, had joined on a more permanent deal from Doncaster and from that moment on, his eyes (although diverted by cup runs and Sky) must have been focussed on his return to Belle Vue. All season he had been ignored by the Rovers management team and he finally had the chance to show them just what he can do. And he didn't waste that chance.

K's travelled north with a somewhat depleted side, but the absence of both Eddie Akuamoah and Phil Wingfield allowed David Bass to start in midfield and new signing Paul Fewings to go straight into the side. This meant that, for the first time in ages, K's were starting a match with two up front and possibly even looking to win.

In front of slightly less than three thousand supporters this time, K's started the match well and looked to be in "cup form" for the first league game in over a month. And - after making a hash of the kick-off - theirs was the first real chance, and wouldn't you just know it, Ian Duerden was the one who missed it - to huge cheers. A good move had seen Mark Beard set free on the right and his cross to the far post had been headed out to the side-burned one on the edge of the area. Duerden attempted the volley but managed only to slice his effort several dozens of yards wide. His time would come.

There were claims for a home penalty early on when a shot from Shaw came in from the edge of the area only for Mark Harris to block. Whether he used his hands or not was completely impossible to tell from the away terrace, but the referee - slightly nearer thank God - annoyed the home fans for the first time that day by saying "no penalty".

A mistake in the midfield allowed Geoff Pitcher a chance to run at the Rovers defence, but his chipped effort at goal did little to trouble Richardson. However the goalkeeper wasn't best pleased with something or other and sprinted out of his area, gave referee Mr M Cairns an earful and received an amusing yellow card for his efforts.

But the referee made an even more controversial decision with ten minutes of the half remaining. A ball was played out to Ian Duerden on the Kingstonian right and he played it back for Mark Beard just as Kevin McIntyre challenged. But then "challenged" is a very poor description for what McIntyre did. His two-footed-jumping-stamp on Duerden's right leg looked unimportant only because Duerden got straight up, uninjured. However, it could have been so much worse - and that must be the reason for the referee's actions. Cairns had no hesitation in producing the red card, to howls of derision from the home support, yet they really should have no complaint. The "challenge" was ugly, could have done a lot of damage and met every description of "violent conduct" ever writ. McIntyre got exactly what he deserved.

Of course, the home support didn't agree - as we wouldn't had we been on the receiving end - and abused the referee for the rest of the afternoon. And the referee didn't exactly make it easier for himself a couple of minutes later when he awarded K's a free-kick right on the edge of Rovers' penalty area for a foul on Pitcher which even those with the rosiest of rose-tinted glasses couldn't justify. Luckily for the referee, Duerden headed the resulting cross over from just two yards out. His time would come.

And just eight minutes of the second half had passed when his time did come. An horrendous foul on Gary Patterson by Shaw was missed by the referee, but luckily the ball rolled to Mark Beard. He rounded the left-back and looked up to see Duerden in the middle. The cross was inch perfect and the striker had anticipated it well by getting in front of the defender at the near post and his shot went into the top-right hand corner, although it looked as though Richardson had saved to those at the other end of the ground. But Duerden's celebration expunged any such thoughts and K's had scored an away goal in the league for the first time since November. And Duerden had got the goal about which he had dreamed.

Doncaster responded well and K's had to be at their defensive best to deny them the equaliser. Campbell was close to heading in a Marples cross but Derek Allan - who was having a superb game - got there first and headed away for a corner. The corner was sent to the far post where Whitman got in a header despite the attentions of Mark Beard, but Gavin Kelly was in no mood to be beaten and saved comfortably.

Paul Fewings - who had done enough to suggest that Sammy Winston will have to get used to sitting on the bench - got himself into trouble when he fouled Shaw, but the cries of "Off! Off!" from the home fans were never likely to answered. A yellow card was shown, to the expected boos, but there can be no comparison between this foul and McIntyre's earlier effort.

The pressure continued unabated though, as Whitman played in Penney on the left of K's area for a chance. But Mark Harris - who was also having a superb game - timed his challenge perfectly to clear the danger when any mistake would have seen the under-pressure official point to the spot.

Winston replaced the injured Fewings with some fifteen minutes remaining - meaning that K's still had two up front! And with Rovers pushing forward there would be gaps for them to exploit. And the chance for a second came just after the substitution. A cross from Campbell saw yet more good work from Allan who managed to clear to Gary Patterson - another who was playing as we know he can. His pass to Colin Luckett allowed him, in turn, to play in Pitcher who was totally unmarked on the right. He scampered goalwards and the odds looked good for another goal. But when it came to the finish, Pitcher was slightly off target as the ball rolled across the face of goal and missed the left-hand post by just a whisker or two.

Yet the second wasn't far away, and when it came it did so from an obvious source. Pitcher played a great ball to Winston on the right, and he looked up to see Duerden in the middle. The cross was a good one and Duerden only had to hit the target when he met the ball at the far post. He did, Richardson was nowhere, and K's had all three points wrapped up. And Duerden must have been the happiest man in the ground.

Substitute Watson went close for Rovers late on when a Penney shot hit Bass and set him up, but his sights weren't quite aligned yet, and Duerden only just missed out on a hat-trick chance when another Winston cross was just behind him. Pitcher also had a late chance to make it three but blasted just wide when through on goal once more. But it didn't really matter. The home crowd was by now singing "Wignall out" and "One Ian Duerden" and the K's fans were celebrating.

So there was to be no FA Cup hangover as some had feared, and on this form there should be no more worries about relegation. The team finally managed to show exactly how they can play when everything clicks. Yes the sending off helped, but even so K's were superior in most departments. Patterson looked to be back to his best, Allan and Harris did their best impression of impregnable rock they've done for ages, and of course then there was Ian Duerden. He only got two real chances in the game and two from two can't be a bad return. After a week spent going out of both major cup competitions this was the required tonic. And as somebody pointed out, if K's win all seven games in hand on (fifth placed) Doncaster, they can finish above them. Let's just hope that this is the start of a league run as impressive as the previous knock-out ones.

Sat 10th Feb 2001
Belle Vue
Football Conference
Doncaster Rovers0
Duerden (2)
1Gavin Kelly
2Mark Beard
3Colin Luckett
4Derek Allan
5Eddie Saunders
6Mark Harris16
7Gary Patterson
8Geoff Pitcher
9Ian Duerden
10Paul FewingsCautioned12
11David Bass
12Sammy Winston10
13Adrian Blake
14Mark Boyce
15Ronnie Green
16Simon Stewart6
Man of the Match
Ian Duerden
Ian Duerden
Match Report By
Gary Ekins