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Southport 2-2 Kingstonian

The start of a run of seven league games in fifteen days that will decide Kingstonian's destination for the 2001/2 season saw just one point gained at a freezing cold and soaking wet Haig Avenue. Should the unthinkable happen, and K's be relegated, at least we will be spared another trip to the hell-hole which is Southport's ground. How people can live and work in those conditions week in, week out, is beyond us mere Southern-Softies.

The K's team which traveled north began the game with a return to the tried and tested "five at the back" with just Gavin Holligan in an out-and-out attacking role. And for the first forty-five minutes things seemed to be working out well. There were chances, but few of enough quality to make it worthwhile extracting hands from pockets to make note of.

Holligan had a couple of efforts well saved by Steve Dickinson low to his right, whilst Ian Arnold missed two fine opportunities after being set up by Mark Stuart and then Simon Parke. The return of Mark Harris at the back seemed to have brought about the return of some much needed organisation, with only a couple of occasions seeing strikers lurking without markers.

The completely-forgettable first-half ended in comical fashion, with Gary Patterson attempting a clearance but managing only to foul Parke. His punishment was an injury to himself whilst Mike Marsh chipped the ball into the penalty area only for Parke to head the simplest of chances wide. Derek Allan held up his hand to admit that he had lapsed in his marking duties.

If anything, the second half was played out in even worse conditions (although us Southern-Softies wouldn't know for sure, as we'd sought shelter in the main stand). With just a couple of minutes gone the home side had a good shout for a penalty turned down when Allan and Arnold chased a Peake flick-on only for both defender and attacker to tumble. Referee Mr. S. Proctor-Green wasn't interested.

And then on fifty-two minutes K's grabbed the lead. Phil Wingfield, who was looking very much back to fitness, crossed from the left only for Dickinson to push the ball onwards. Mark Boyce retrieved and crossed back into the middle, where waiting was Holligan. His head did the rest as the centre of the net bulged and K's led.

Southport weren't about to give up the points without a fight though, and they built up a good head of steam as they set about restoring parity. The referee was asked another "penalty?" question not longer after K's had scored when Mark Harris seemed to bring down Peake, but again he answered in the negative. But on 75 minutes - and at the third time of asking - a penalty was given.

Simon Stewart brought down substitute Ben Obong and a foul was immediately indicated. The only question which remained was whether the contact had been inside or outside of the area. The referee's finger showed his opinion, as Mike Marsh was given the chance to equalise from the spot. But Jimmy Glass was in no form to allow the lead to slip, and he turned the penalty kick aside as he dived to his right.

But just as it has so many times this season, good became bad for K's just moments later. The save led to a corner that led to a second, and from that Southport equalised. Obong crossed and Mark Stuart turned the ball in despite the attempted goal-line clearance from Mark Harris.

Eddie Akuamoah was introduced for the tiring Wingfield as the management team signaled that one point was not really good enough. And what do you know? That one point looked like becoming three again when the lead was claimed back once more.

A foul on Holligan, some twenty-five yards from goal, was punished with a free-kick and whilst the wall was arranged there was much discussion amongst the Kingstonian players. Pitcher thought that he'd have a crack, but Eddie clearly thought that he deserved a chance at a shot. He even had a bit of an "Eddie-stress" as he jumped up and down with fists clenched. But Pitcher was having none of it as he strode up and hit a superb low drive into Dickinson's bottom right-hand corner. Five minutes remained and thanks to Pitcher's genius K's were back in front. Now they just had to hold on.

Both Ian Duerden and Sammy Winston were brought on for Ronnie Green and Gavin Holligan - both of whom had run themselves into the ground. Simon Stewart was by this time sporting a headband after stopping a Marsh rocket with his forehead (he later required four stitches) as K's fought to hang on.

By now into injury time the fight was taken slightly too far by Pitcher as he brought down Obong twenty-five yards out. For this he was cautioned but this became just the first punishment as the resultant free-kick was chipped into the area, turned across goal by Stuart and then turned in by Obong. Another injury-time goal had seemingly stolen two more precious points.

There was still time for more controversy though, as Eddie got the ball and led a surge goalwards. Three attackers were running at just two defenders and all of a sudden there was a chance that the lead could be snatched back once more. Yet suddenly the whistle went, play was halted and attention turned to the middle of the K's half. There brawling were several players from each side with Winston and Dave Linighan looking most angered. The referee showed a red card to Linighan but K's had already received their own punishment by not being able to complete their attack.

Just seconds later the game ended, and as the players trooped off Winston was brought off under tight control by the physio, whilst Mark Wright launched his regular torrent of abuse at the referee. But none of that really mattered. What was important was that K's again let leads slip, and again ended up with only minimal reward for a good display. Oh for a bad display which ends in a win.

Sat 14th Apr 2001
Haig Avenue
Football Conference
Holligan, Pitcher
1Jimmy Glass
2Mark BoyceCautioned
3Colin Luckett
4Derek Allan
5Simon Stewart
6Mark Harris
7Gary Patterson
8Geoff PitcherCautioned
9Ronnie Green14
10Gavin HolliganCautioned15
11Phil Wingfield12
12Eddie Akuamoah11
13Adrian Blake
14Sammy Winston9
15Ian Duerden10
16David Bass
Man of the Match
Simon Stewart
Simon Stewart
Match Report By
Gary Ekins