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Southport 1-2 Kingstonian

With the visiting support increasing roughly twenty-fold from the last knockout visit to Haig Avenue, it was clear that the folk of Kingston were well prepared to see their team make history by making it into the 3rd round of the FA Cup for the first time ever. Southport had brought a few followers too, meaning that the crowd was swelled to over 3,500 by the time three o'clock came. K's lined up as expected, with on-loan Gavin Kelly in goal. The only surprise came on the bench, where Kofi Nyamah re-surfaced after eighteen months in obscurity.

The start was as expected, with the tempo a high one, and the challenges showing the desire of both teams. At a push it could be claimed that K's started the brighter of the two teams, yet it was Southport who had the first chance. Andy Gouck played a ball from left to right and Ian Arnold received. His shot was an easy first test for Kelly, who did what was expected. But he was beaten just moments later when Dino Maamria was played through the middle of the K's defence only to see his shot strike the base of Kelly's post.

But K's didn't allow themselves to be stopped from playing. Firstly Geoff Pitcher cut in from the left only to see his shot deflected over by Neil Grayston, then from a corner a couple of minutes later Sammy Winston's backward header was tipped over well by Steve Dickinson.

A corner on nineteen minutes was followed by another immediately after, Pitcher sent this in from the left, Mark "Go go gadget neck" Harris met the ball at the far post and headed home from a tight angle. It really was a stunningly simple goal, but that mattered little as the players celebrated on their way back to the middle one-nil up.

Eddie Saunders was in commanding mood in the middle of the defence, but he made his required blunder for the day moments after K's took the lead. Maamria was competing with the defender running towards the goal-line, Saunders slipped and Maamria seemed to have the chance to shoot. From out of nowhere Derek Allan flung himself in the way to block, and Saunders had recovered enough to stop the follow up from doing any damage.

Phil Bolland wasn't far away from an equaliser when he headed a corner inches wide from a corner at the far post, but the next few minutes showed just how good Kingstonian can be going forward.

Gavin Kelly threw out to Colin Luckett on the left and the wing-back found himself looking forward into hectares of space. He played the ball up to Winston and collected the return as he sprinted towards the area. There was a huge gap in front of him - and he might have done better to exploit that - but he decided to go for goal and unleashed a venomous shot with his right-foot. Dickinson made himself look good by trying to get to it but was never anywhere near the ball, so he must have been delighted to see it strike the top of the bar.

With ten minutes of the first half remaining Geoff Pitcher was being urged to get involved. This he did immediately as he received a square pass from Wingfield 30 yards from goal. One touch took him within range and the next touch swung the ball perfectly into the top-right hand corner of the net to double K's lead, and for possibilities to become probabilities. It was a stunning goal - and one which proved absolutely vital.

From this point on the game became slightly more heated (although those on the exposed visiting terrace would have done well to notice the increase in temperature). Sammy Winston was booked, presumably for dissent, when he pointed out just how many errors the referee and "assistants" (sic) were making. And the rise in temperature seemed to be working well for the home side.

Arnold was presented with a chance to pull one back for Southport when he was played through the middle of the K's defence by Marsh. But out came Kelly, and he showed the Conference fans just how good third-choice Premiership players can be with a great save low to his left. But sadly the corner led to a goal, when Maamria picked the ball up on the edge of the box and fired a left-footer in.

The last chance of the half saw most of the K's support leaping into the air celebrating their third goal, before Dickinson's hand brought them back down to earth. A superb piece of trickery from Pitcher on the left allowed him to cross towards Eddie Akuamoah. He tried a strange over-headed back-heel of an effort, and unsurprisingly failed to even connect with the ball. But Mark Beard was following up and had half of an open goal to aim at. He got his shot in, and it was on target, but Dickinson did superbly to turn the shot aside.

With most K's fans expecting the second half to last an eternity, it was slightly strange that it was somewhat bereft of incident. K's did have one early chance, when Winston body-checked a defender to allow Wingfield to shoot, but apart from that little of note occurred.

If anything, the temperature had once again been turned up a notch, with some "heavy" challenges flying in from both sides. The referee seemed not to realise, as he gamely allowed play to continue. At one point Kingstonian were down to ten men (with Colin Luckett hobbling along the touchline) and Southport had just nine, with two of theirs out of the game.

With some fifteen minutes remaining Southport started to pile on the pressure. Arnold played in Maamria, the linesman allowed him to continue despite his offside position, but Eddie Saunders did very well to challenge just as he shot from the left. The striker's next such effort caused slightly more concern for K's, as this too was blocked, but it fell to substitute Lee Elan about three yards from goal. Gavin Kelly showed his bravery by diving at his feet and came out on top as the ball bounced away from, rather than in to, the goal. It was a fantastic save.

The pressure continued with corners aplenty. One saw Bolland's shot strike Maamria and the next saw the cross head for goal. Mark Harris did his cartoon style stuff once more as he headed the ball over from under his own bar.

With Phil Wingfield desperately signalling to the bench that his underpants were too tight, he was replaced by Kofi Nyamah. And within minutes the sub found himself with the ball and with nobody between himself and Dickinson. He didn't quite capitalise though, as the defence got back to help out.

Four extra minutes were signalled as desperation set in for the home side. Yet their best chance was perhaps still to come. A cross from the right was deflected by Gary Patterson, Ian Arnold met it at the far post and had a huge target to aim for from some six yards out. Under pressure from defenders he blasted over, fell to the ground with head in hands and secretly the K's players must have known that that was that. Seconds later the whistle blew, and in scenes reminiscent of last year's Trophy replay victory, the players had a race to see who could get to the fans first.

Eddie Saunders seemed slightly over-excited and was heard to shout "They said it couldn't be done, they said it couldn't be done" repeatedly. Quite who "they" are and what "it" is remains a mystery. And he then enquired as to the new goalkeeper's name before congratulating him with a hug.

The players all seemed delighted - and well they might. Against a very good side, K's did all that could be expected of them. They got the goals that their early play deserved and defended in depth in the second half. The fans trooped off with smiles lighting up the night, but these smiles were wiped from many faces when news filtered through that one of the Supporters' Club's mobile saunas (AKA coaches) had gotten itself stuck in the mud.

But nothing was going to depress anybody for long. Kingstonian had won a place in the 3rd round of the FA Cup for the first time ever, and what's more, they deserved it. Bring on the Big Boys.

Sat 9th Dec 2000
Haig Avenue
FA Cup 2nd round
Harris, Pitcher
1Gavin Kelly
2Mark Beard
3Colin Luckett15
4Derek Allan
5Eddie Saunders
6Mark Harris
7Gary Patterson
8Geoff Pitcher
9Sammy WinstonCautioned
10Eddie Akuamoah
11Phil Wingfield13
12Mark Boyce
13Kofi Nyamah11
14Ronnie Green
15David Bass3
16Simon Stewart
Man of the Match
Geoff Pitcher
Geoff Pitcher
Match Report By
Gary Ekins