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Telford United 0-1 Kingstonian

It was a Tuesday night. It was cold. It was a long way from home. It needed a battle through the jams of people trying desperately to escape from Birmingham. It saw a team with four important players banned. It came just three days after the embarrassment of losing six-one at home. But in the end, it was all worth it.

Although there were few K'sites present to witness this performance, it must surely go down as one of the best of this season. A team missing the most well-known non-league midfield pairing, as well as a couple of defenders, showed that all of the grit, determination and character that was missing against Morecambe on Saturday is well and truly present. The doom-merchants who proclaimed that this relegation battle was over after the six-one thrashing are wrong. This K's team will fight until 4.45pm on May 5th to preserve the Conference status so recently won.

That it was not one of the regulars who was the hero of this night is somehow fitting. Ronnie Green made just his 12th start for the hoops, and in his time (including 26 substitute appearances) he'd scored just one goal. And that was in last year's Macmillan Trophy - that most prestigious of competitions.

The goal came as early as the seventh minute, and it was nothing but deserved. The move which led to the celebrations began with a Telford corner on the right. Jimmy Glass punched out and Colin Luckett completed the clearance playing the ball on to Eddie Akuamoah. He found Green on the left, and in five brief seconds defence had become attack. There was little support for the young striker and so he decided to go on his own. He ran towards the area, cut back inside the two occupying defenders and shot from some 18 yards out. The ball beat Dean Williams' outstretched right hand, struck the left hand post and bounced across the goal-line.

To those watching at the other end, it was simple. If the net bulged, confidence would be restored. If not, then relegation would be back at the front of the minds. Thankfully the net did bulge, as the ball went in off the post to hand K's the lead. The team - and supporters - exploded with joy as Ronnie was covered in yellow shirts. Now that's the way to answer your critics.

The early running was certainly with the relegation threatened visitors, as first Colin Luckett shot just wide, then a cross from Akuamoah saw Simon Travis get his toe to the ball before Mark Jones could double his season's haul and then Ian Duerden headed against a defender at the far post after meeting a Jones cross.

But Telford weren't about to allow the opening of their away stand to be remembered for a defeat, and they started to show just why their home form has been so good. They firstly had claims for a penalty waved away when Travis' right wing cross was blocked by Colin Luckett's body. He'd made his arm as unimportant as possible by putting it down by his side, but still there were sighs of relief when the referee ran away from the area.

Following this, a quick free-kick allowed Travis to get a real cross in, only for Gary Fitzpatrick to miss the ball at the far post. But Steve Palmer was following up, and his quick ball inside allowed Kevin Jobling to shoot against the outside of the post from the left side of the area. Glass' foot was in attendance, but the shot would certainly have been close to going in had it been on target.

With half an hour played Telford were forced to make their second substitution of the match - revealing the fact that it isn't just Kingstonian who are suffering from selection headaches. But the changes seemed not to affect them as the home side came more into the game as the half progressed. Theirs was the last chance too, when a long shot hit Mark Harris and bounced to Jake Edwards. His quick pass allowed Palmer to shoot, again from the left, but this time Glass did very well to turn the shot aside for a corner kick.

The second half saw the teams attacking their respective fans - some 500 behind Glass' goal compared to some 50 behind Williams'. And the half started just as everybody knew it would - with Telford pressure. An early shot from Fitzpatrick forced another good save from Glass, low down to his right, and Simon Stewart was there to complete the clearance ahead of the on-rushing Gary Martindale. But the Bucks' striker needn't have worried - a better chance fell to him just seconds later. A cross from the right saw a total mis-kick from the striker when any connection would surely have tied the scores, and once again Stewart was there to mop up.

The pressure didn't abate as time went on, and there were worries about whether any team could sustain this for forty-five minutes. They probably couldn't, and - if anything - Telford were getting closer, with Fitzpatrick shooting millimetres wide of the right-hand post from the edge of the area.

But K's were still around as an attacking force, and a corner from the left almost led to the second goal. Eddie Akuamoah took it short and Ronnie Green played in a wicked cross. One of the Telford subs got to the ball first, but for some reason headed towards his own goal. He must have been glad when Kevin Davies headed off the line for him then.

Green was presented with another good opportunity as the pressure abated somewhat. Mark Boyce began the attack, and his pass gave Ronnie time and space on the right. Again he was faced by defenders, and again he cut back inside. But this time his shot was a long way off target, although Duerden's head made the miss-margin much smaller.

But the temperature was turned up again (figuratively speaking that is), and the home side tried everything they could to equalise. One superb move, with some amazingly slick passes, ended with a substitute blasting goalwards, only for Glass to dive low to his right to tip the ball around for a corner. This saw a near post flick-on make the ball fly across the face of goal, with attackers and defenders alike standing and staring.

A shot from Edwards produced yet another Glass save as the shots kept on coming in. But K's were still able to play on the break, and they came close themselves a few times. In fact, the best chance of the half for those in yellow again fell to goalscorer Ronnie Green. Jones had headed a pass clear to Duerden, who played a perfect ball for Eddie Akuamoah to run on to. Green was in support, and with two-on-two the odds looked good for K's to double the lead.

Eddie found Green sprinting in to the area on the left, and all he had to do was lift the ball over the sprawled figure of Williams. He tried, and he almost got it right, but the ball struck the goalkeeper's back and bounced agonising inches over the bar. This was the youngster's last real contribution, and after running tirelessly for some 80 minutes, he was replaced by Sammy Winston. Who immediately got shoved in the face by a Telford defender for no reason at all.

The ninetieth minute saw the "4" board held up by the fourth official, but still K's hadn't stopped looking for their second. Winston played in Duerden on the right, and as the sub went into the middle for the return, Duerden "did a Green", cutting behind the defender to get room to shoot. And shoot he did, although he probably should have squared it to Winston, as the ball sailed over.

Memories of Ashton Gate resurfaced in the fourth extra minute, as a long hoof forward saw the ball divert off of Eddie Saunders' shin leading to a right sided corner to the home side. But thankfully Tony Thorpe was nowhere to be seen, as the danger was cleared, and just seconds later the whistle went.

The team - quite deservedly - celebrated much as they did during the FA Cup run at the end. Hugs were exchanged and fists were raised. All fourteen who had been on duty came over to thank the travelling support, as well they might. It had been some turn around from the despondency of Morecambe, but this result may well be the one that provides a true turning point in this most horrible of seasons. Telford played well, and had enough chances to have won. But the team in yellow showed superb character and commitment to come out on top. Oh yes, it was all worth it.

Tue 13th Mar 2001
New Bucks Head
Football Conference
Telford United0
1Jimmy Glass
2Mark Boyce
3Colin Luckett
4Simon Stewart
5Eddie Saunders
6Mark Harris
7Ronnie Green12
8David Bass
9Ian Duerden
10Mark Jones
11Eddie Akuamoah
12Sammy Winston7
13Adrian Blake
14Billy Mead
Man of the Match
Ronnie Green
Ronnie Green
Match Report By
Gary Ekins