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Kingstonian 2-4 Rushden & Diamonds

Unbeaten Rushden came to Kingsmeadow at a time when the home side thought that they might just have turned the corner after a poor start to the season. After 90 minutes, the unbeaten record was still intact, but there was further evidence that things are on the up for Kingstonian.

The K's side saw the eleven who finished Tuesday night's game with Dover victorious take the field, whilst Rushden included K's Wembley hero (twice) Tarkan Mustafa on his first return to Kingsmeadow.

The game started fairly evenly, and, if you didn't know any better, it wouldn't have been clear which side was top and which was towards the bottom. The first real hint of a chance fell to K's when a superb move, which started deep in their own corner, ended with Mark Boyce crossing towards David Bass. The ball just cleared the midfielder's head and it was Mustafa who cleared. Moments later and Mustafa was again involved. This time he challenged Eddie Akuamoah in the middle of the field, the foul was given, and amazingly a yellow card was shown. Thoroughly unwarranted.

Rushden almost took the lead through another piece of questionable refereeing when a free-kick, awarded for a innocuous challenge by Bass, was crossed in from the right. Steve Farrelly jumped and was probably fouled while in the air yet no free-kick was given. The ball dropped down to Justin Jackson whose shot hit Eddie Saunders and was hacked clear by Bass.

Another ludicrous dive from Geoff Pitcher got some of the home fans incensed when the protests were waved away, but then things took a down-turn. Jackson got close to the goal line and crossed from the left. The ball went in between Steve Farrelly, Eddie Saunders and Colin Luckett and in popped Duane Darby to open the scoring. With three players around, the ball should really have been cleared, but Darby did well to profit from the indecision.

Worse was to follow four minutes later when a free-kick was swung in from the left. Eddie Saunders jumped for the ball and got nowhere near it and Jackson collected. He sent a ball across from the left just in front of Colin Luckett, who was facing his own goal. With no idea who was around, surely the thing to do was to play the ball off for a corner. But then hindsight is a lovely thing. Luckett left it and Jon Brady nipped in from behind him to tuck away the second goal of the afternoon. And so the good start made by K's counted for nothing.

Farrelly saved well from Jackson as the Diamonds threatened to over-run the home side before Akuamoah was given a chance to pull one back. Pitcher's lob sent him through on the left but his shot was well saved by Billy Turley's legs for a corner. Darby thought that he'd made it three before the break when he stabbed home a rebound after Farrelly had saved a Jackson shot but the linesman's flag came to the home side's rescue.

The half ended with Colin Luckett providing evidence that he can learn from his mistakes, when a cross was played in between him and the goal-line. What did he do? You've guessed it - played it off for a corner.

Despite ending the first half two down, K's came out for the second period looking like they were ready to get back into the game. And it took just five minutes for them to do so. A Patterson free-kick was chipped into the area, Akuamoah headed on and Saunders challenged. The ball dropped to Pitcher who was stood around the penalty area and he launched a volley at goal. Both Gary Setchell and Gary Butterworth threw themselves in front of the ball, Turley dived right, the ball took multiple deflections off of both Rushden players and the ball flew in to Turley's left. If only he'd stood still.....

Two-one almost became two-two just afterwards when Pitcher and Winston combined on the left with Winston being set free. He looked up to see Mark Boyce in the area but the cross was marginally behind the youngster and so the chance was gone.

Turley produced a superb save as K's showed everybody that they were on top. A Luckett throw went to Pitcher who in turn played in Winston. He shot from some 25 yards and the ball was destined for the top corner. Until Turley flung himself left to turn over that is. But it wasn't all K's. Colin Luckett was called upon to clear the ball from his own goal-line when a quick break from the visitors, after a K's corner, saw Jackson cross from the left and Darby shoot.

But then K's shot themselves in the foot for the umpteenth time this season. Steve Farrelly had the ball and kicked clear, but only found Jackson. He rounded Eddie Saunders and Mark Harris with ease and, after also going around Farrelly, despatched the ball into the net to make it three-one.

Yet still K's didn't give up and they were rewarded with a slightly bizarre goal with some thirteen minutes to go. Winston was sent semi-clear on the right and then rounded Ray Warburton to move towards the goal-line. The angle was acute, and when he shot, most thought "why didn't he cross?". Yet Winston knew what he was doing, as he managed to strike the ball exactly against Warburton's legs to ensure that the ball looped up, over Turley and in at the far post. Perfect. He obviously knew what he was doing.....

Yet with just five minutes to go, and with K's still in the hunt for a point, Rushden made the game safe. After yet another poor Farrelly kick, Jackson found himself through on goal. Patterson got back to challenge, but instead grabbed two handfuls of shirt and threw the striker to the ground. The referee was obviously in a lenient mood, as a yellow card was all that was produced, when perhaps a red one might have been more fitting. Still, further punishment was to come as Brady despatched the ball perfectly around the wall to make it four.

The scoring had come to an end, and with it had K's hopes of ending Rushden's unbeaten run. Still, they can take heart from the fact that they started the game on a par with their visitors and were the superior team for the opening fifteen or twenty minutes of the second half. But yet again, individual mistakes from players whom you expect more from proved enough to cost the three points.

Sat 30th Sep 2000
Kingsmeadow Stadium
Football Conference
Pitcher, Winston
Rushden & Diamonds4
1Steve Farrelly
2Mark Boyce
3Colin Luckett
4Eddie Saunders
5Marvin Harriott
6Mark Harris
7Gary PattersonCautioned
8Geoff Pitcher
9Sammy Winston
10David BassCautioned
11Eddie Akuamoah
12Amara Simba
13Richard Hurst
14Junior Kadi
15Gary Drewett
16Ronnie Green
Man of the Match
Mark Boyce
Mark Boyce
Match Report By
Gary Ekins