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Leatherhead 2-2 Kingstonian

After a couple of United's from the Combined Counties League - in the form of Chessington and Ash - the Surrey Senior Cup semi-finals often pair up the 'big guns', though this season prospective opponents Crystal Palace had seen their hopes of a continued run dashed by a defiant Leatherhead side.

The sides' previous competitive meeting three seasons ago was a long affair drawn out to penalties and the report opened with, "Once again, an 'almost' first team 'almost' managed to let slip a game that really and truthfully shouldn't have caused K's the slightest bother." That statement's inclusion is no word-filler either, for Kingstonian were to once again lay on the drama...

Unable to feature were the cup-tied Chris Whelan and Scott Edgar, along with the ineligible-by-one-day Grant Payne. Also dropping out of the starting line-up were Mark Jones, Bashiru Alimi and Liam Collins.

Matt Bradford and Matt Elverson and Liam Garman stepped in at the back whilst Dave Clarke returned from an achilles injury and Scott Steele featured from the start. Tim Sills, rested at the weekend, returned to lead the attack.

Starting for Leatherhead were a number of familiar names, notably captain Danny Lavender and Iain Hendry at the back - both of whom appeared for K's on a handful of occasions. Manager Alex Inglethorpe named himself up front for the Tanners as their prolific regular strike partnership of Phil Ruggles and Ali Chabaan was broken up by the latter's international call-up by Lebanon.

The game started slowly, but after the first quarter came a trickle of chances for both sides. Matt Elverson - not the most renowned scorer of goals - had a glorious opportunity when Scott Steele lifted a free kick over to his far post position. The header however shot wide of the target.

A strong run by James Pinnock on the right saw the midfielder/attacker-for-the-night send a fizzing ball across Justin Gray's Leatherhead goal where it was picked up by Liam Garman and sent back in for Dave Clarke to fire beyond the target.

Pinnock almost notched a goal when a neat Tim Sills flick sent him through, but the move was adjudged offside by the linesman. Pinnock in turn went about sending in an accurate cross for Sills, but the header across goal was angled a little too much and went wide of the upright.

At the other end, former Woking man Phil Ruggles had set about causing the K's defence numerous problems, and some smart work was required by Lance Key in order to keep his goal intact.

With the half drawing into the latter stages Leatherhead were awarded a golden opportunity to take the lead when Max Hustwick brought down Jeremy Jones on the edge of the box with a loose ball flying around somewhere in the vicinity. Up stepped Ruggles to take the penalty and he made no mistakes, sending Key the wrong way, giving his side an unexpected lead.

As the half drew to a close came Kingstonian's clearest opportunity. Just what did happen was not so clear, as Tim Sills got a close range header onto a cross and Tanners 'keeper Gray somehow made the block as he spread himself in a crowd of players.

The second half started badly for K's with a Matt Elverson backpass putting his goalkeeper Lance Key in great trouble, whose part-clearance was picked up by Mark Charles-Smith with the goal gaping wide open at him. Yet, as the striker prepared himself to dispatch the shot, Key desperately flung himself across goal and made a fine recovery by getting a hand on to the strike to turn the ball round past the post.

The danger was not over however, as minutes later Elverson was penalised for a foul on Alex Inglethorpe on the edge of the box. After some confusion regarding whether the strike would be direct or not, Inglethorpe himself curled a lovely strike past the wall and inside Key's near post to double his side's lead.

The introduction of Liam Collins and Phil Wingfield midway through the half provided the stimulus for what had become an unlikely recovery.

With some twenty minutes remaining, James Pinnock sent in a deep cross from the left which was headed back across the face of the goal by Collins for Wingfield to half-volley home from six yards out.

Matt Flitter almost levelled the scores with the following attack when he sent a header inches wide of the target, but an equaliser was now clearly on it's way. Working hard down the flanks, Dave Clark managed to send in an excellent cross from the left when faced with what seemed a blocked path. The ball was treated with the quality of finish it deserved off the top of James Pinnock's head and Gray was beaten for the second time in just five minutes.

The remainder of regulation time saw K's take full control of the game but the chances had dried up. A final flurry saw Tim Sills volley over after a weaving run by Phil Wingfield, whilst at the other end Phil Ruggles' snapshot was foiled by Key.

Into extra time the game went and the Leatherhead tormentor, James Pinnock, continued in his quest to play his teammates into promising positions, though Collins' shot was gathered by Gray and Sills' effort skimmed wide.

The first period of extra time ended in a scramble similar to that caused at the end of the first half an hour or so earlier. Gray was unable to gather a cross when challenged by Pinnock, leaving first Alimi and then Wingfield to take a pop at goal. Danny Lavender was able to head off the line, though as it happened the linesman's flag had been raised by that stage anyway.

One final effort for Ruggles, dangerous throughout, was dealt with by Key and with penalties looming large once more, the game was to end two-all. And so onto the late-night thrills of penalties, and with both sets of fans gathered behind the covered end, it was Leatherhead who were to start...

Tanners substitute Michael Webb took the first kick of the shootout and fired an ominously good effort into the top corner. Fortunately for home 'keeper Justin Gray, he was long gone by the time Craig Lewington had smashed his kick down the middle of the net.

Lance Key, on the night that his England place was going back to the Conference boys, pulled off a save from John Lloyd's strike and Phil Wingfield ensured that his side took an advantage through to the third round of kicks.

Well-practiced form the match, Phil Ruggles safely dispatched his penalty before James Pinnock - his side's outstanding player - saw his effort come back out after striking the underside of the crossbar.

Jeremy Jones and Tim Sills tucked away their kicks without much trouble to take the scores to three-all, with a penalty missed each.

For a moment it seemed as though Key had stopped Adam Gray's kick, but the ball squeezed through, mounting the pressure on the K's defensive brigade. Up stepped Matt Elverson to convert, taking the shootout into sudden death.

Leatherhead's Vitor Tavares (possibly) scored his penalty, with Max Hustwick burying his in the bottom corner in response. Tanners manager Alex Inglethorpe and K's Bash Alimi were successful from the spot too. The turn of Danny Lavender saw Lance Key once again able to save down to his right before Liam Collins made no mistake in tucking away what was to be the final penalty to seal a hard fought comeback and victory for Kingstonian.

Tue 25th Mar 2003
Fetcham Grove
Surrey Senior Cup Semi final
Wingfield, Pinnock
1Lance Key
2Max Hustwick
3Matt Bradford14
4Craig Lewington
5Matt Elverson
6Matt Flitter
7Scott Steele12
8Dave Clarke
9Tim Sills
10James Pinnock
11Liam GarmanCautioned16
12Phil Wingfield7
13Adrian Jones
14Liam Collins3
15Ronnie Green
16Bashiru Alimi11
Man of the Match
James Pinnock
James Pinnock
Match Report By
Ali Kazemi