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Leigh RMI 2-1 Kingstonian

What have become the familiar sights of the M40, M6 and Birmingham were passed for the last time on the journeys to and from Hilton Park, Leigh. Of course Birmingham is a complete dump, and of course we're all glad not to have to go near it again. But every K's fan would put up with more horrible journeys if only they were possible.

Yes, this was the final away trip in K's Conference reign, and it was to a club who many predicted would themselves be relegated at the start of the season. Yet as it turned out, the visitors had of course been depressed since two days previous, and the home side showed just why they are sitting in the top five of the table. If ever there was an indication of the extent of the surgery which needs to be done over the summer, this was it. Unable to even field five substitutes, K's were completely outplayed in this match by a team who survive on even smaller crowds than themselves.

The first chance of the game fell to Sammy Winston, but he was unable to get a touch on Colin Luckett's right wing cross and the ball rolled away for a goal-kick. The striker's next involvement was slightly less encouraging: he pulled down Andy Farrell, who got up to take the free-kick himself. The ball was sent to the middle of K's area, Eddie Saunders (making an unwelcome, but necessary, return) could do no more than flick the ball on and debutant Troy Hayder took one touch to set himself, and one more to lash the ball home. Ten minutes had been played and K's were behind.

Dave Ridings played in Steve Jones just afterwards, but the striker blasted wide when it looked easier to score. But moments later K's shot themselves in the foot for the 88th time this season. Gary Patterson had the ball on the left and did exactly what every six year old knows not to do: he played the ball square across his own area.

Saunders was the unlucky recipient and, under pressure from Jones, lost track of the ball. The striker was still aware enough to get the ball, take it around Jimmy Glass and shoot home into the now-vacant net. Twenty-six minutes gone, two-nil.

Saunders came close to making up for his earlier errors when he headed a Luckett corner just over, but that really was the closest that K's came on a pitch that, in the now-lashing rain, was becoming heavier and stickier. Hayder almost made it three just before the break, but Glass came out and executed a very good tackle on him to keep the scoreline down to just the two.

The second half saw the introduction of Mark Jones for Simon Stewart as K's decided that, already relegated and two-nil down away from home, they may as well attack. Winston had a good early chance when played in by Luckett, but his cross-cum-shot was well saved by Dave Felgate.

K's were handed a lifeline - or would have been had it mattered - when they were awarded a somewhat dubious penalty. Eddie Akuamoah headed on to Winston who ran at Farrell in the area, the defender challenged, the striker tumbled and the referee pointed to the spot. Winston did exactly what he did when he missed an open goal last week, namely laughed out loud.

Still, K's are in no position to look any sort of gift-horse in the mouth, and Colin Luckett dispatched the resulting penalty with aplomb. The wiping-of-brow celebration suggested that he may no longer spend all summer thinking "if only".

From then on, the game became somewhat stuck in the midfield. This is probably due to the fact that the ball would no longer bounce or roll, seen most impressively when the referee gave a drop-ball, only for the ball to make not even the slightest effort to bounce back up once it hit the ground.

K's were by now racking up the bookings, with Mark Boyce, Gary Patterson and Mark Jones seeing yellow. And then, with some ten minutes remaining, there was a flashpoint in the centre of the pitch. A foul by Rick Harris on Patterson was punished with a free-kick to K's, but that was not enough for Patterson who clearly stamped on the offender. That resulted in something of a mini-melee, but when the dust had settled, it was the Leigh man who was shown a red card. And still K's couldn't take advantage. Still, it really didn't matter as they are now firmly cemented in twenty-first place.

It was nice at the end of the match when the players came over to applaud the traveling fans, but it would have been nicer still had it all been spontaneous. But at the end of the day, this game signaled that Kingstonian FC are well and truly ready for the season's end. Leigh have done well this season and K's have not. That fact was made very clear on this trip to the grim North. Thank God we don't have to make any more.

Sat 28th Apr 2001
Hilton Park
Football Conference
Leigh RMI2
Luckett (pen)
1Jimmy Glass
2Mark BoyceCautioned
3Colin Luckett
4Eddie SaundersCautioned
5Simon Stewart14
6Mark Harris
7Gary PattersonCautioned
8David Bass
9Sammy Winston
10Eddie Akuamoah12
11Phil Wingfield
12Ronnie Green10
13Adrian Blake
14Mark JonesCautioned5
Man of the Match
Colin Luckett
Colin Luckett
Match Report By
Gary Ekins