It’s been a busy week at realfacup’s semi-detached council flat, what with actual work, battles with content thieves, serious drinking and going to football matches. We’ve already told you about our weekend games and had a guest report and here’s another one from us!
After a rudimentary 1-1 draw in Thanet, Margate and Kingstonian reconvened just 2 (two) days later to decide who was to meet Hertfordshire’s finest, St Albans, in QR3. QR3 sounds much cooler than 3rd Qualifying round, innit? Take note FA.
After finding out the disappointing news that our usual pre-Kingsmeadow gourmet shop, the brilliant Fat Boys caff on the Cambridge Road, was closed, I decided to hit the ground in search of sustenance. Simon made the schoolboy error of generic kebab/fish/burger/pie/rat/filth shop that sold him some sculpted fat with a hint of food colouring and flava. I thought he might have a turn until a fruit boost brought him back round to his full-on paparazzi sharp shooter best. Phew.
The Ks flew out of the blocks and dominated for most of the first 25 minutes and Jamie Turner in the Gate goal gave a hint of what was to come with some fine saves, catches, blocks and general dominance on his 18 yard manor.
Keister was lucky not to be carded and there was an interesting little battle brewing between the attacking force of Kingstonian’s Matt Gray and Margate’s holding midfielder Jay Saunders. Gray was on top but occasionally tried to take on too much responsibility.
Then, out of nowhere, Wayne Wilson curled and dipped a Beckham-esque free kick over Kingstonian’s otherwise solid wall, down off the underside of the cross bar and in to Rob Tolfrey’s net. Picking the ball out of the net was about the first thing Rob had to do and it was Margate’s first shot on target.
It was around this time I noticed Alan Shearer, collar up, lurking near the dugouts honing his punditry skills into a dictaphone, keeping it real. I asked Alan his opinion of the goal and he told me he hadn’t seen anything quite like it since his days at Southampton when MattLe used to caress the ball with the lightness and deftness of touch only usually seen in a burlesque dancer feathering a punter.
Al pondered the impact K’s left wing back Tom Bird was having on the game. “Big!” He told me. “Whipped in crosses, clever positional sense, penetrative forays down the wing and a free kick that asked serious questions of defenders”. I retreated in awe of the cream of Auntie’s crop, too scared of his insight to remain and without the shades required to be so close to such luminessence.
Despite the setback of the goal, Kingstonian’s trusty band of 100 or so fans were locked together behind the goal as if the end was packed and sung their merry hearts out for the entire game. With a song book repertoire and particular care taken not to repeat songs too soon, they were making an already good game an event worth savouring.
My words couldn’t really do justice to all that happened but there were four things of note in the last 10-15mins of the first half.
Firstly, another dangerous Bird free kick was cleared to the edge of the box with some force. Gray was lurking but the ball came quickly and he had to leap and swerve his body in mid air to volley back towards the goal with power where Turner pulled off a reflex save to match.
Secondly, the ref was having a good game. There was some tough tackles to go with the tight play and he often settled for a talk where he could have got his cards out. The fact that there wasn’t much argument from either side on any occasion signals he was getting it right. Us gobshites don’t give the refs enough credit.
Thirdly, Turner made some more excellent saves and cross claims that seemed to disillusion the Ks players and as the half wore on and they ran out of ideas about how to beat him.
Finally, there was a massive sign on the back of each perspex dug out that said “Anyone striking the dugouts will be ejected”. Margate’s booming gaffer Iain O’Connell (is this the man with the gruffest voice in football?) should have been out of the stadium at about 8pm.
Martin Tyler hoisted his lanky frame from the Kingstonian bench for the first time in the second half. Not sure what he said to the gaffer but, whatever he did say, he did so with his hand to his mouth as if holding an imaginary microphone. Unlike the Alan Shearer bit, this bit is not, I don’t think, a figment of my fertile imagination.
Just as Margate were getting a proper foothold in the game Hall rasped a 20 yarder just inside Turner’s post. 1-1. The steward and his other half standing next to us went mad and their pram-bound toddler responded with the kind of glee usually reserved for chips or a piece of that popping stuff, you know the stuff you wrap stuff in so it doesn’t break … why can’t I remember the name of it, it’s ruining this paragraph. Tsk.
The proverbial kitchen sink was deployed and Turner took centre stage. A fingertip save from a Lodge header, another from a neat turn and shot by the same striker, another from a Bobby Traynor clip from a long ball over the top and another from a header. Traynor then missed a sitter from inside the six tard box and we were heading to extra time. Margate did come back in to the last few minutes and Kinsgtonian had seemingly run out of ideas again.
Extra time was incident packed, Turner made the now obligatory saves that would have made Gordon Banks blush, Rob Tolfrey in the Ks goal was now getting in on the act and Margate’s Welford got sent to the stands for a yellow that owed as much to persistent fouling as the tackle that broke the referee’s resolve.
“Is Damon still on the line” I just about heard Caroline say. I was, but distracted by the commotion of fans swapping ends could remember not one of the weekend’s FA Cup results. Doh! Meanwhile, the aforementioned steward got sprightly and retrieved an errant ball with some panache. His colleague arrived and he swelled with pride, describing in great detail how he had just scored the winner, well it sounded like it. You can keep your anonymous Premier League experience, such small moments are swallowed.
So, penalties. Like photographing waterfalls, describing a penalty shoot out loses something with the lack of 3 dimensions. But Kingstonian were up first and so the hero of the day was now under the spotlight again. Five penalties were dispatched with relief and it was 3-2 Ks. Then Rob Tolfrey saved Osborne’s penno! This wasn’t how it was supposed to pan out. Never fear, Turner saved Gomez’s, then Tolfrey saved again, then Turner saved again … 9 penalties down and it was still 3-2.
Laurence Ball, who’d had a good, if tough, game just about dealing with Lodge and Gomez, had to score to send it to sudden death. It was a decent penalty but at a “nice height for keepers”. Tolfrey hurled himself to his right got a finger tip to the ball and, SMACK, the sound of ball on upright. Where would it go? Unfortunately for Ball, ball went outwards. In a game with a clear man of the match, Turner, his opposite number had out done him when it mattered.
It was the right result but you had to feel very sorry for Turner who, along with a superb display, had to endure some fearful/amusing banter from the Ks fans who, sportingly, at the end sung his praises.
For me, game of the season so far. Good luck to Ks up at St Albans in the next round and good luck to Margate with working up the league. £9 well spent.