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Staines Town 2-2 Kingstonian

It is now thirty-nine months since Kingstonian were last beaten in the FA Trophy, but this match at Wheatsheaf Park was probably the closest they have come to a defeat in that considerable time. Staines, of the Ryman first division, showed from the start that they were not over-awed by their visitors, even after a week where many local - and even some national - news programmes contained pieces on the FA Cup fourth round minnows. But of course, in the FA Trophy, Kingstonian are nothing like minnows. Two Wembley victories in a row should have made this game a mere formality, yet none of the assembled K's fans though it would be so.

And so it proved. The match started with a slightly different K's side out, with Mark Harris ruled out by injury and Sammy Winston, suffering from flu, could only make the bench. This did though make room for Simon Stewart at the back, and for Ronnie Green to make his first start since October - and even that was only in the Nationwide Variety Club Trophy. So at least there were a couple of players presumably looking to make a name for themselves before the trip to Ashton Gate.

To be fair the holders did start brightest. Colin Luckett played an early one-two with Phil Wingfield and Mark Beard met the cross at the far post. Staines' goalkeeper - Matthew Lovett - saved well with his feet and Mark Costello completed the clearance providing K's with just a corner. The next "attempt" at goal was a somewhat amusing one when (uh-uh) Simon Stewart shot from deep inside his own half. For a second it looked as though K's might be making more headlines, but then the ball dropped on the edge of the area and Lovett caught.

Fourteen minutes were on the clock when the referee awarded the home side a free-kick on the edge of the box. For some reason or other, Russell Canderton disputed the decision and was given a caution for his efforts. Still, he must have been happier a moment later when his team was one up. Ex-K Steve Talboys took the kick, sent it into the defensive wall, the wall split, the ball deflected left, Kelly was wrong footed, the ball crossed the line and Staines led. It looked as though the deflection came from Gary Patterson's head, but nobody in yellow cared who it had hit. They were winning.

K's tried to come straight back into the game and really should have levelled just minutes later. A corner was awarded on the right, Pitcher sent it to the far post and there arriving was Derek Allan. It was an easy chance, yet somehow the defender managed to head wide. His comment as he ran into the net, whilst somewhat in the "foul and abusive" category, was spot on.

Although most of the possession was with those in red and white, there were still some chances for Staines, most notably when a cross from the left was met by a totally-unmarked Mark Butler. His header was a good one, but Kelly was alert enough to save low to his left.

Mark Beard picked up a needless caution for his petulant response to not being awarded a throw before Gary Patterson fired a chance not far over/wide after good work from Wingfield. The half ended with Kingstonian appeals for punishment to the home goalkeeper when he came out of his area and chested/handled a through ball for which Ronnie Green was chasing. Desperation indeed.

Presumably reeling from some half-time abuse at the hands of Messrs Chapple and McDonald, the team wasted no time in showing the crowd of 767 just how they can play football. A good attack on the left saw Phil Wingfield make a good tackle, the ball was deflected to the edge of the area and Geoff Pitcher swept the ball home with his left foot. Relief covered the faces of both players and supporters as the world regained its familiar shape.

Wingfield had a chance to further please the travellers when a great ball from Patterson saw him through on goal. Lovett did well to spread himself and the ball was deflected up by the goalkeeper's legs. Eddie Akuamoah met the rebound but could do no more than head the ball up into the air.

With twenty-five minutes remaining there were a couple of similar incidents one after the other. A long ball through Staines' defence saw Lovett run out of his area and clear with his head. The ball landed with Akuamoah, and he was clearly fouled by a defender. The referee disagreed and play continued. Straight down the other end, and a long ball through Kingstonian's defence saw Kelly run out of his area and clear with his head. The ball landed with Mark Butler who shot into the empty net. Simon Stewart was chasing back but couldn't get there and so Staines had the lead once more.

Eddie Saunders was given the chance to restore parity a couple of minutes later when he headed a Pitcher corner wide from close in and then Simon Stewart made it a hat-trick of centre halves heading wide from easy chances when his effort from a Wingfield corner went the wrong side of the far post.

Ronnie Green departed - presumably until some time in April - and Sammy Winston appeared as the nerves began to fray. Simon Stewart went close with another long range effort, but this one was from merely twenty-five yards out. Lovett produced a fine save to his right and K's only reward was a corner. This save was followed by an even better one when Winston was set free on the right. He looked up to see Pitcher advancing at the far post and his deflected cross was met by the midfielder's head. Doing everything exactly right, Pitcher headed the ball in the direction from whence it came, yet Lovett had read his mind and flung himself to the left to deny K's the equaliser.

There were but four minutes remaining when the equaliser finally came. After a good deal of K's pressure - including one mad scramble in Staines' box - Patterson crossed from the right and Pitcher connected with his head from some twelve yards out. Mark Costello got in the way, and after the ball had struck him it crossed the line with Lovett over the other side of the goal.

Over the ninety minutes the equaliser was probably deserved, but coming so late it was harsh on Staines. Lovett in particular had produced a couple of very decent saves, and Staines' defensive display had been similar to that produced by K's last week. Still, the chance remains for them to cause an upset at "fortress" Kingsmeadow on Tuesday night, and on a day when so many Conference sides slipped up, K's should probably be delighted that they will still be in the hat for Monday's draw.

Sat 13th Jan 2001
Wheatsheaf Park
FA Trophy 3rd round
Staines Town2
Pitcher (2)
1Gavin Kelly
2Mark BeardCautioned
3Colin Luckett
4Derek Allan
5Eddie Saunders
6Simon Stewart15
7Gary Patterson
8Geoff Pitcher
9Ronnie Green12
10Eddie Akuamoah
11Phil Wingfield
12Sammy Winston9
13Adrian Blake
14Mark Boyce
15David Bass6
16Luke Basford
Man of the Match
Phil Wingfield
Phil Wingfield
Match Report By
Gary Ekins