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Stevenage Borough 2-5 Kingstonian

With both the players' and supporters' coaches taking a somewhat bizarre route to Broadhall Way, the Kingstonian team - and the majority of supporters - didn't arrive at the ground until 2.45pm. This led to a five minute delay to the kick-off and will almost certainly lead to a fine for K's. Following Steve Farrelly's operation, Adrian Blake wore the number one shirt, but the rest of the team was that which over-ran Brentford just seven days earlier.

But it was Stevenage - who had only lost twice in the league this season - who were on top in the early stages. In fact it took them just eight minutes to open the scoring, when the ball fell to Dean Martin some 40 yards from goal and out towards the right touch-line. Whatever it was that he was trying to do, it can't have been to score in the top-left corner - yet that's what he did. The ball must have gotten caught up in the wind, Blake had no chance and Stevenage took the lead. But after another eight minutes, it was the visitors who led. And by three goals to one.

The fightback began after being behind for two minutes. Eddie Akuamoah intercepted a Sam McMahon pass on the edge of the K's box and sprinted forward. He got to the half-way line and played in Wingfield, who was lurking out on the left. His first time square pass found Pitcher and his right-footed shot from 25 yards gave Paul Wilkerson no chance. The ball rocketed into the net and K's were level.

Just moments after, a foul on Pitcher was punished with a free-kick, again 25 yards from goal. Wingfield did exactly what everybody knew he was going to do by touching the ball square to Pitcher, the number eight struck his shot right-footed and for once managed to miss the wall. Wilkerson may have been unsighted, or perhaps he's just not very good. Whatever, the goalkeeper got nowhere near the beautifully struck shot and K's led two-one.

Another three minutes ticked by and so it must have been time for another. A shot was fired in from Phil Wingfield, but a defender managed to block the ball and send it out to the right. Quite what Colin Luckett was doing out on the right-wing is unclear, but his left foot shot was well struck if slightly off target. Yet after it struck Mark Smith's back it went exactly where Luckett wanted it to go - in. Wilkerson was still going after the undeflected shot and was nowhere near the ball as it crossed the line to give K's a remarkable three-one lead.

Adrian Blake proved his worth just after this, when a Stevenage corner allowed ex-Woking man Darren Hay to get in a shot. The effort was well blocked, and K's almost capitalised further, when a Phil Wingfield break almost allowed Winston to get in a shot.

The chance for Pitcher to complete what would have been a twenty-minute hat-trick came just after, when a superb cross from Mark Beard landed on his head at the far post. Competing against a defender at least a foot taller, Pitcher did superbly well to connect, yet Wilkerson produced his first save of the game, tipping over for a corner.

But there wasn't much longer to wait for the fourth. A great run from Wingfield saw him unleash a shot from the edge of the area, Wilkerson dived left and tipped the ball away, and there following up - from his favourite right-wing position - was Colin Luckett. He had the whole goal to aim at, and he didn't disappoint as he extended K's lead to three. And all of this in the first half an hour.

Blake was called upon to make another good save when a cross from Martin on the right was again met by Hay. His header saw Blake diving left and he did well to prevent the goal. And so after one of the most amazing opening forty-five minutes of the season, the whistle went as K's left the field four-one up.

It was clear that Stevenage needed to raise their game in the second period, and they didn't disappoint as they came out challenging for everything. The early attacks were weathered as Blake saved a volley from Paul Armstrong only to see the ball off for a corner. From this Nathan Bunce headed goalwards but Blake produced another fine save at the expense of another corner kick. This one was a poor one, and Gary Patterson cleared. But Rob Miller turned it back in, Bunce shot and Blake could do nothing more than watch as the ball flew in.

Stevenage certainly held the upper hand at this time, and were threatening to negate K's good first half. They even thought that they might be awarded a penalty, when a David Phillips cross from the left saw Mark Harris and Hay come together. The red shirted ones appealed, but referee Mr S Castle waved them away. Correctly so.

But Mark Harris looked to be in the mood to cause controversy, as just a minute later he jumped with Martin. A free-kick was awarded, but Harris wasn't happy with that as he waved his arm in the direction of Martin's head. A less lenient referee might have produced a red card, but Mr Castle seemed happy with just the yellow and so Harris survived.

From the aforementioned free-kick Stevenage came ever closer to pulling another goal back. The ball went towards the far post, where Harris and Derek Allan competed to clear. Neither managed it as the ball was flicked on to the post. It rebounded to the head of Armstrong who somehow managed to head over the open goal from half a yard. To be fair, the ball did come to him very quickly, but he was still embarrassed enough to walk away with his head in his hands.

About five minutes later, Darren Hay produced an even worse miss. A pass into the area saw him and Blake compete. Blake did well and diverted the ball towards the Stevenage right. But Hay had got up, and as the ball came back to him had the easiest chance to score in the open goal from three yards. He didn't, as he cleared the bar and must have wished that the linesman had raised his flag as he should have. Hay was clearly offside, but thankfully enough it turned out not to matter, as he's clearly no good either.

Just as things were beginning to get somewhat worrisome, K's did exactly what they needed to do. They broke away and scored a fifth. Pitcher played in Beard on the right and his superb cross was met by Winston at the far post to put the result beyond doubt. This goal signalled the end of the match as a contest, and after that the only question was over whether K's would score six. They didn't, but it wasn't from a lack of effort. Wingfield went close twice but couldn't quite do it, and when K's made three separate substitutions within a couple of minutes it was clear that everybody was happy.

And so a fine performance in what was a slightly bizarre match. Kingstonian deserved to win, if only for that twenty minute first half period where they were in total control. Every attack looked to have a goal at the end, and Stevenage quite simply had no answer to Pitcher. The second half was tougher, but it was always going to be, and the fact that K's not only held out but finished on top shows that these particular three points were well deserved.

Sat 25th Nov 2000
Broadhall Way
Football Conference
Stevenage Borough2
Pitcher (2), Luckett (2), Winston
1Adrian Blake
2Mark Beard
3Colin Luckett
4Eddie Saunders
5Derek Allan
6Mark HarrisCautioned
7Gary Patterson15
8Geoff Pitcher
9Sammy Winston12
10Phil Wingfield13
11Eddie AkuamoahCautioned
12Ronnie Green9
13Mark Jones10
14Mark Boyce
15David Bass7
16Simon Stewart
Man of the Match
Geoff Pitcher
Geoff Pitcher
Match Report By
Gary Ekins