Report from Kidsgrove Athletic website.
This turbulent Saturday afternoon affair had its fair share of thrills and spills only guaranteed in FA trophy football. The opposition, Evesham United FC, had travelled just under 100 miles for this widely anticipated game had travelled from their home ground of the Spiers and Hartwell jubilee stadium.
Usually accustomed to southern league one south opposition the rival team looked confident as they marched onto the field adorned in red and white shirts, black shorts, and all black stockings.
This Aire of confidence was quickly snatched away from the travelling Evesham side as with only six minutes gone, “club talisman” and captain Anthony Malbon made his presence very well-known as he rifled home a header placed perfectly on the six-yard line from a free-kick by new singing Johnston.
There was a significant release of pressure around the stadium as Malbon’s goal flew past the keepers reach, the team crowded each other to celebrate just outside the oppositions box.
From this premature successful passage of play the grove fans could tell this would be no timid afternoon.
Evesham heads had not dropped though, as the first twenty minutes of action saw good
possessional play by the travelling side. After every successive corner and free kick won, Evesham seemed to edge themselves ever so slightly forward of Kidsgrove in terms of game dominance.
This perseverance would be capitalised on when in the twenty third minute Evesham’s number 10, Callum Ebanks, made a blistering run that started on the half-way line and finished with him wheeling away in celebration after cutting inside the Kidsgrove defence from the left and hammering a shot hard and low past the reach of Kieran Harrison in the net.
After a deserved half time break, the grove were ready to go again. But they were not met by the opposition in the usual manner inside of the tunnel before the continuation of the game.
Instead Evesham had set up camp on the centre circle of the Autonet stadium, in the early October sun. The team in red and white were sprawled across the turf as a fiery team talk was given.
Whatever was said at halftime seemed to pay off for the boys in blue, as Kidsgrove had a furiously fast start to the final 45 minutes as John Jonhston made himself known again.
A successive run down the right-hand side wing paid off for john Johnson as a ball fired into a crowd of players was greeted with a sharp blow of the whistle by the referee, this blow was then followed by a finger pointed to the penalty spot. Handball! The ball was calmly placed down by Johnston, who looked un-phased on his Kidsgrove debut, the strike was hard and true.
It pierced right past the gloves of Evesham’s number one. 2-1 Kidsgrove.
The floodgates were now well and truly open. Fan favourite Anthony Malborn had been brought off at half time and replaced with Kieran Brown, a striker in very good form who seemed to constantly be hungry for more. This substitution would later pay off.
Ten minutes after Johnston’s penalty zipped past the keeper, the net was bulging once more. This was thanks to another fantastic run by Johnston who carried the ball into the centre of the pitch into the feet of Will Whieldon, who expertly crossed the ball into the giant leap of Kieran brown. The ball was then placed the ball into the centre of the net with his head.
After a delightful spell of possession wherein the grove utilised a number of combination passes and long balls deep into the heart of the Evesham defence, another goal would come for Kieran Brown in the 62nd minute.
Brown rose to the occasion physically and metaphorically as a ball pinged in by Johnston was easily won in the air, Brown was able to skilfully place the header far out of the reach of
the Evesham number one. As Brown jogged away to celebrate the feeling of relief once again filled the Autonet stadium.
5 minutes of added time greeted the teams at the end of 90 minutes. This extension of play came after an injury was picked up by the referee, this injury meant a spectator took the role of linesman for a short time. Wearing a bright blue polo and white trousers the fan seemed rather out of place in the officiating line-up, but this change of official made no difference to the groves performance.