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Hayes 1-1 Kingstonian

The pre-match atmosphere at Church Road, Hayes did little to suggest that this would be a game never to be forgotten. When the teams ran out there was a ripple of applause from the disappointingly low crowd - this was, after all, a relegation "six-pointer" - and we then stood in silence to await the first whistle.

K's lined up with two changes following the defeat at the hands of Kettering. Mark Beard was fit to resume at right-back and David Bass was preferred to Eddie Akuamoah in midfield. But the most important change didn't become apparent until the match was underway: that K's were playing with two recognised strikers playing in the middle of the field. The omens looked good.

The match started in an "amusing" way, with Gary Patterson completing an unwanted hat-trick by receiving his third yellow card in as many games. It was fully deserved too, because rugby tackles were outlawed years ago. The fact that this was his tenth such caution of the season means that he will miss one match two weeks from today - a fact to remember in the lines to come. In fact, after his post-Southend reprieve the suspension may well be longer.

Hayes, in case one could forget, were also desperate for the points, and they started brightly. A corner from the right was met by Alvin Watts' head and Mark Beard did well to head off the line. The corner which followed immediately after was also headed goalwards - this one being saved well by Gavin Kelly. Not the most auspicious of starts.

Geoff Pitcher was given an early chance for K's when a Colin Luckett cross was headed to him by Bass. Unfortunately his effort from 12 yards out was easily dealt with by Paul Gothard. His next shot didn't even cause Gothard to move, although it wasn't too bad a chance. This one was again provided by Colin Luckett, and Ian Duerden and Patterson combined well to set up Pitcher for a shot from the edge of the box which he sent over the bar. Mark Preston had come close in between, when Gavin Kelly spilled a long ball under pressure, but the Hayes' man blasted well over when a little composure would have seen him open the scoring.

K's confirmed their first-half superiority with two more good chances before the break. The first was created when Eddie Saunders hoofed clear on the right and Mark Beard flicked on. All of a sudden Sammy Winston - who was having a storming game - was clear on the right and he looked up to see Duerden sprinting to support him in the middle. A fine cross from Winston looked to be exactly what was called for, but Duerden couldn't quite make a telling connection at the far post and the chance was gone. The second opening was crafted by Pitcher, and almost finished by him too. A fine run saw him get to the edge of the area, but his left footed shot bent the wrong way and just missed the left-hand post.

Hayes were still in the game though, and probably finished the half the stronger of the two sides. One quick throw almost provided them with the opener, but Gavin Kelly - on his last appearance for the club - was alive to the near post shot from Bezhadi. And so the half ended goal-less, and with not a hint of what was to come.

The second forty-five minutes began with Kingstonian seemingly unable to pass the ball - quite literally. A string of corners were conceded, and cleared more by luck than judgement. One led to a chance for Steve McKimm, who blasted wide from twenty yards, and one led to a good chance at the other end. Eddie Saunders headed the cross out from seemingly under his own bar and Mark Beard completed the clearance by passing to Duerden. He played a fine ball down the right, and it was then a race between Winston and defender. The K's man got there first and looked to have a good chance. He cut in and fired the ball across the face of the goal, but unfortunately for K's nobody had been able to keep up with the attack, there was nobody to meet the cross, and the ball finally went out for a throw to Hayes. But K's had finally woken up from their half-time slumber.

A cross from Duerden on the left looked to provide Mark Beard with his first goal for the club, but Kofi Nyamah - he who made one substitute appearance for K's this season - challenged him well at the far post to turn the ball aside for a corner kick. From this Winston did well to head back and Pitcher's shot from the edge of the box was charged down. Some K's players appealed for a penalty, but the referee - Mr Graham - disappointed the yellows for the first time by saying no. Duerden hadn't worried about appealing though - he'd gotten the ball and saw his shot well saved by the increasingly busy Gothard.

Hayes were still tallying up their own corners though, but again K's showed that they can play on the break. A long clearance from Pitcher was met by Winston, again on the right. Nyamah was the man facing him, but Winston beat him by cutting back behind him. His shot, though, wasn't the best and Gothard was able to save comfortably.

But still Hayes were piling up the corners. And from one in the 62nd minute, the breakthrough finally came. Barry Moore took it from the right and ex-international Jimmy Quinn, making his debut for the club, headed home at the near post. It came at a time when K's could well be said to have been on top, and the head-dropping was noticeable. From both players and supporters.

And then all hell broke loose. First of all Geoff Pitcher picked up a deserved caution for a late challenge in the midfield. And a few moments later he challenged again and the whistle went - presumably for obstruction. But the referee decided that the foul deserved harsher punishment than just a free-kick and amazingly reached for his pocket. Yellow plus yellow always equals red, and K's were down to ten men.

One minute later the ball reached Kofi Nyamah on the Hayes left. Mark Beard (Pitcher's brother-in-law for those who have forgotten) executed a waist high challenge, Nyamah went down, the crowd erupted, the red card was produced for the second time in as many minutes and K's were down to nine men for the second time this season. If the challenge was as bad as is suggested, then Beard can have no real complaints, but it is unlikely that he would have been quite so angry had Pitcher still been on the field.

The repercussions were obvious for all to see. One goal down, and now two men down, the hill had suddenly become a mountain for K's. A couple of minutes later Eddie Akuamoah was introduced in place of Mark Harris as K's switched to playing a third of their men (that's three for the mathematically challenged) up front, looking for the equaliser. It almost came when a long ball was flicked on by Duerden, only for Winston's shot to be saved by Gothard at his near post.

Winston - who had run himself into the ground - was replaced by Ronnie Green late on, as K's switched to a completely unknown formation, known only as "desperation". Derek Allan even appeared to be playing on the right wing. But Hayes somehow failed miserably to make their numerical advantage count, as they were unable to exploit the holes in the Kingstonian defence. In fact it might have seemed to some as though the home side had the fewer number of players, K's were doing so much chasing and harrying.

Time was up and the fourth official signalled that there would be three extra minutes to play - most of which were presumably added due to the protestations following the expulsions. K's were awarded a free-kick towards the left-hand side some twenty five yards from the Hayes goal, and all bar Gavin Kelly were in front of the ball as Gary Patterson lined up to take it. Hayes - obviously trying to waste a much time as possible - decided that this was a good time to make a substitution and the momentum was lost as play was halted.

Whilst the sub was pulling his shirt on, Patterson ambled up to the referee to enquire whether the kick was direct or not. An answer in the affirmative meant that, from then on, he had only one thought in his mind. With every player in the Hayes box expecting a cross to the far post, there was a clear route to goal from Patterson's position. Gothard made it even easier by walking a couple of paces to his left to get nearer to the anticipated cross, and when the shot came in from Patterson, he was unable to recover his ground. The shot was perfect - just inside the left-hand post, and K's had equalised in the last minute.

The celebrations started as the players realised that the nine of them had done what eleven had failed to do. Patterson duly got the most congratulations, but amidst it all Derek Allan apparently went up to the referee and told him what he thought of him. The result was that, as most of the yellow-shirted ones walked back for the kick-off, Allan walked towards the tunnel as everybody realised that he had become the third K's player to be red carded. Again, if he did what he is reported to have done then he can have no complaints, but again there is no way that he would have reacted as he did had the referee not started on his own personal road of destruction.

The whistle went just seconds after Hayes had kicked off and the referee was immediately surrounded. As he made his way off the pitch, the K's players - or those that remained - thanked their followers for their support. Gavin Kelly came somewhat closer as he said his own personal farewell to the fans - he is certainly a player who will be missed, and one with an exceptionally promising future.

And so both Hayes' and K's totals were increased by a point. It was - as one cynical ginger man commented - two points lost, but at the end of the game there must have been a feeling amongst the players that they had actually achieved something. To come from one goal down with just nine men is a great accomplishment, and hopefully one that can inspire a full compliment of players in the next match.

Of course, the downside is that, in two weeks time (Telford away), K's will definitely be without Derek Allan, Mark Beard, Gary Patterson and Geoff Pitcher. That quartet will probably all miss the next match (currently Rushden away) and both Allan and Beard will miss the next (currently Dover at home). Add this to the now vacant goalkeeping position and it becomes clear that maybe two points weren't the only things lost on this cold night. But at least we didn't lose the match, and at least we saw some fight. We'll need some of that over the next few weeks.

Tue 27th Feb 2001
Church Road
Football Conference
1Gavin Kelly
2Mark BeardSent Off
3Colin Luckett
4Derek AllanSent Off
5Eddie Saunders
6Mark Harris15
7Gary PattersonCautioned
8Geoff PitcherCautioned and Sent Off
9Ian Duerden
10Sammy Winston16
11David BassCautioned
12Mark Jones
13Adrian Blake
14Simon Stewart
15Eddie Akuamoah6
16Ronnie Green10
Man of the Match
Sammy Winston
Sammy Winston
Match Report By
Gary Ekins