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Hednesford Town 3-2 Kingstonian

After the embarrassment of Wednesday night's defeat by Forest Green, the K's management team rang in the changes. Somewhat. Sammy Winston came back from suspension to reclaim his number 9 shirt, whilst Eddie Saunders took over from the injured Derek Allan in defence. Also out went Eddie Akuamoah, with David Bass replacing him in the midfield. Meaning that one point seemed to be the order of the day.

Travelling North under their own steam this time, the K's team looked slightly more determined than they had just three days earlier, and started in assured fashion, actually passing the ball to others in a yellow shirt. A vast improvement.

Referee Mr. S.Chittenden was a central figure in this game, and he brought himself to the attention of those watching as early as the twelfth minute. A ball was played down the K's left for Winston to chase, and he was pursued by Ian Robinson. Just as the ball crossed the line, Winston fell to the ground clutching his face and Robinson turned around making a "what is he doing?" gesture. The referee clearly had no idea what had occurred, as he cautioned both players yet gave a free-kick to Hednesford.

K's actually came close to taking the lead early on, when a great run from Pitcher - despite Town's best efforts to bring him down - set Mark Boyce free on the right. His cross was a good one and was met by newly appointed captain Gary Patterson. Unfortunately his header went just wide of the post.

And then K's shot themselves in the foot. Eddie Saunders, who looked so assured during his loan spell last season, collected the ball some 25 yards from his own goal, and inexplicably played the ball straight to Val Owen. He swept past Mark Harris and played in Mick Norbury who had the simplest chance to play the ball over the unguarded line.

Yet five minutes later, K's were level. And in similarly bizarre circumstances. Winston played a ball through for Amara Simba to chase, but it was a poor ball and one which Mark Haran collected easily. He in turn played the ball back to goalkeeper Mark Gayle and Simba made the by-now token effort to close down. Yet Gayle's kick went straight at Simba, struck his backside and flew over the line to equalise. Could this be the slice of luck which changed the season around?

Well no. It took some ten minutes for the enthusiasm to be swept away by the foot of Ian Robinson. The full-back had been played in on the right wing, and faced by Colin Luckett, had looked up and crossed. Richard Hurst had gone too far towards his near post, so when the ball went longer than he was expecting he had no chance to claim. The fact that Robinson was trying to cross should ease Hurst's pain little, as he was woefully out of position to prevent the ball from flying straight into the net to hand Hednesford the lead once more.

Sammy Winston let the frustration get to him and almost got himself his second red card of the season just after. A clear push in the back of Robinson was correctly punished with a free-kick by the referee, yet Winston decided to enter a rather heated discussion with the official over the correctness of his decision. The referee's hand moved towards his card filled pocket, but he then realised that Winston had already been cautioned, so settled for a stern telling off. Chapple was clearly ready to substitute the striker, but for some reason allowed him to stay on. For how much longer nobody was sure.

Norbury almost got his second goal just before the break when a cross from Neil Pointon was swept just wide of Hurst's left hand post. But then K's really should have scored. Pitcher passed to Simba on the left of the area, Simba looked up and saw Winston at the far post. A perfect cross landed on the striker's head, and 6 yards from goal the celebrations could start. Couldn't they? Well no. Winston headed wide, surely making Chapple regret his decision to leave him on the field.

The half ended in comical fashion, when Patterson headed the ball the wrong way and Neil Davis' shot had to be cleared off the line. Yet at half-time, despite playing horribly, K's were just one goal down and had actually created some chances worthy of the name. Better to come in the second half we were sure.

And indeed it was much better. The introduction of Eddie Akuamoah for Eddie Saunders - whether it was because of injury or because Chapple has realised just how poor Saunders really is - livened the team up. By now K's actually had a midfield that would break things up, but would also attempt to create chances for those ahead of them. Luckett was almost the lucky one, when Eddie played him in from the left, only for his right foot shot to go just wide.

Richard Hurst finally made a good save just after, but unfortunately the "shot" had come from Mark Harris, presenting Hednesford with the golden opportunity to score from an indirect free-kick from less than 10 yards out. Luckily, David Bass' back got in the way of the first shot, and then a scramble saw the ball pop up into Hurst's hands.

Kingstonian finally had a good spell of pressure in this half, and they actually looked the better side during it. The second equaliser came courtesy of Winston after a corner from Luckett had been headed back by Harris. Bass challenged Owen and got a hurt head for his efforts, the ball bounced to Winston, who chested down and unleashed a very good right-footed volley past Gayle for the equaliser. Which made Chapple think that maybe he had made a good decision after all.

Eddie almost set up Winston for another just after, but a defender just prevented him from shooting. A Pitcher corner was then met by the head of Stewart, whose header was superbly tipped over by Gayle. Stewart then almost undid all of the good work by playing a terrible pass straight to Norbury, whose shock was somehow blocked by his own player - Neil Davis the one in deserve of thanks.

Stewart came close with his head once more, but the spell of pressure had really come to an end. From now until the end, it was the home side who looked the more assured on the ball, and who created the best chances. Substitute Scott Goodwin had the first when he found himself completely alone on the left of the K's area. Fortunately he shot over. Robinson almost handed K's the lead with a misdirected clearance before Town scored what proved to be the final goal of the afternoon.

A foul by Owen went unpunished, but the following foul from Bass didn't. He was cautioned for his offence, and worse followed when this led directly to the winner. The ball was played to the edge of the area, several defenders looked to have the chance to clear, yet decided not to. Hednesford took advantage when Davis passed to Norbury who struck home from the edge of the area.

K's thought they'd equalised late on when Bass rocketed home a volley, but the flag had already been up for some time when Winston collected the ball in an offside position. And apart from Simon Stewart limping off late on --leaving K's with Mark Harris as the lone 100% fit centre-half - that really was that.

Once again K's had played terribly. It may have been better than Wednesday night, and they might have come close to getting a point, but when the team is analysed player by player, it must be concluded that they're simply not good enough. If Farrelly is out for much more than a week, then surely Chapple should spend every waking moment trying to get a goalkeeper in. He surely must also decide which of the centre-halves he wants to play, and also whether he wants 4 or 5 at the back. Because at the moment, the team is changing every game, and the system is sometimes being altered during the match, which can't help anybody.

Last year, with mostly the same players, there was a pretty settled side, with a definite system in place. This year, due to injuries, poor form or whatever, the team seems to be reacting to events rather than making them happen, and the reactions aren't proving too good. Yes we've all got to get behind them, but surely something must happen before it becomes too late. Because if this continues, K's will be going nowhere but the Ryman League (or the Doc Martens if Woking are involved too), Chapple will leave and then where will we be?

And the news that we won't be allowed to take our rightful place in this season's Auto Windscreens Shield should make people look in the direction of the Directors' Box next home game and ask just who is in charge of this place, and when will they tell us the truth about the ground. Because at the moment, their statements are proving incorrect, and the feeling of "what's going on?" looks to be spreading to the players.

Sat 16th Sep 2000
Key's Park
Football Conference
Hednesford Town3
Simba, Winston
1Richard Hurst
2Mark Boyce
3Colin Luckett
4Eddie Saunders12
5Simon StewartCautioned16
6Mark Harris
7Gary PattersonCautioned
8Geoff Pitcher
9Sammy WinstonCautioned
10Amara Simba
11David BassCautioned13
12Eddie Akuamoah4
13Ronnie Green11
14Lee Allen
15Junior Kadi
16Luke Basford5
Man of the Match
Eddie Akuamoah
Eddie Akuamoah
Match Report By
Gary Ekins