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Kingstonian 0-2 Stevenage Borough

The previous week's victory at Belle Vue, Doncaster had allowed the Kingstonian fans to spend a week believing that relegation fears were now to be quashed. A two-nil away win must be the signal for the start of an impressive league-climbing run mustn't it? Well no. This home match with Stevenage proved, if ever there was real doubt, that Kingstonian face a huge fight to keep their Conference place for next season. And on this showing, the outcome of that fight is anything but certain.

The team which defeated Doncaster was on show once again - apart from Mark Boyce replacing the injured Mark Beard - allowing Ian Duerden to start alongside Paul Fewings, who was making his home debut. But that was really the end of the similarities between last week and this.

The match was played out, once again, in front of a sub-one-thousand crowd and the apathy of the supporters seemed mirrored by the K's players. The sooner that everybody realises that they are fighting for their lives the better. Stevenage, on the other hand, looked to be an accomplished team. They did what they had to do, and it was fairly clear that, had they needed to do more, they could have done so with ease.

And it took them just twenty-four minutes to take the lead. A shot from Neil Illman on the left took a wicked deflection off of Sam McMahon, but Gavin Kelly proved equal to the task as he produced a very good save to his left. The ball bounced out towards Derek Allan, and the danger was presumably about to be cleared. Except Allan took a big swipe at the ball, missed completely, allowing Darran Hay to steer the ball home past the floored Kelly.

Almost from the kick-off K's provided Boro' with another very good chance, when Mark Harris fouled McMahon on the right wing. The free-kick from Adrian Clarke was met by Robin Trott as his flicked header looked to nestle in the bottom right hand corner of the net. Fortunately Kelly was awake as ever as he produced his second stunning save of the afternoon to turn the ball aside for a corner.

But alas, the corner found Illman in the area, and after cutting inside Harris, his left-footed shot rocketed into the top-left corner and Stevenage led two-nil. And the game, as a contest, was by now over.

K's did try to respond, and Fewings went close with his head after he met a Geoff Pitcher corner on the penalty spot, only to just clear the bar. David Bass had the best K's chance of the half just before the break when a good cross from Patterson on the left - after fine play from Pitcher - was flicked on by a defender allowing Bass to volley from the edge of the area. It wasn't the easiest of chances and Bass probably wasn't the player who would be chosen to have the chance if choices were allowed. Still, he almost scored. But the ball just cleared the far post with Paul Wilkerson beaten.

Just before the break 'flu victim Fewings was replaced by 'flu victim Eddie Akuamoah, leaving many in the crowd to wonder exactly how K's were expecting to pull back a two-goal deficit with just one out-and-out striker on the pitch.

The second half became something of a non-event, with no real passion being displayed by either side. Duerden headed a Boyce cross just over early on, when maybe a goal would have inspired a fight back and then Pitcher displayed his petulance for all to see. He collected the ball in the middle of the pitch and attempted to run through the sandbox centre circle when he lost his footing and fell to the ground. As there was a Stevenage player within five yards he clearly felt that he should be awarded a free-kick for getting his hands dirty, but the referee - amusingly named Mr A. Conn - correctly waved play on. Pitcher disagreed, spat his dummy to the ground before launching abuse towards the man in black. A yellow card was the obvious result, one which may prove costly in the coming weeks.

K's finally reverted to two up-front when Sammy Winston replaced Derek Allan with some twenty minutes remaining and Winston was given a half chance within minutes. Patterson - himself cautioned just before - played a fine ball down the right, and Winston had done very well to stay onside. He got to the ball first and started to cut in towards goal, but to be fair he was at a horrible angle when he tried to shoot. And at the same time the challenge from Trott came in resulting in just a corner.

But said corner provided the easiest chance of the afternoon for K's when the ball looped over everybody and landed on Winston's right foot about two yards away from the far post. But instead of touching the ball home in the bottom-left corner - which seemed the obvious thing to do - Winston tried the spectacular twenty-foot lob into the top-right corner resulting in a good save from Wilkerson for just another K's corner. But in truth it was a terrible miss from the striker as he had an almost open goal to aim at but completely sliced his effort.

The game ended with Stevenage going close via both Illman and Clarke, but once again Gavin Kelly came to the rescue with a fine double save. But his efforts mattered little in the end. Two goals will always beat none - especially when the none come from a side seemingly unable to create chances, and seemingly unable to show any sort of fighting spirit whatsoever. The facts are simple: eighteen games, and fifty-four points, remain to fight for. Whether there will be any fight is another matter.

Sat 17th Feb 2001
Kingsmeadow Stadium
Football Conference
Stevenage Borough2
1Gavin Kelly
2Mark Boyce
3Colin Luckett
4Derek Allan15
5Eddie Saunders
6Mark Harris
7Gary PattersonCautioned
8Geoff PitcherCautioned
9Ian Duerden
10David Bass
11Paul Fewings12
12Eddie Akuamoah11
13Adrian Blake
14Simon Stewart
15Sammy Winston4
16Ronnie Green
Man of the Match
Gavin Kelly
Gavin Kelly
Match Report By
Gary Ekins