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Chester-le-Street Town 1 Leigh RMI 3


By Matt Lawton
September 24 2005

Two second half goals saw RMI survive a tricky tie at Northern League side Chester-le-Street Town to safely make their passage to the 3rd Qualifying Round of the FA Cup. Because of the generosity of the Leigh RMI board of directors, a much higher away following than normal made the long trip to the north east, and they returned home happy with the result, though relieved to be through to the next stage of football’s biggest knock-out competition after a few scares in the second half.

As QPR manager Ian Holloway once famously said, "on a night out, it doesn't matter how ugly the bird is as long as you get her in the taxi". Although it might seem completely out of context, he must've been watching RMI at the time. It wasn't pretty stuff, but RMI "got her in the taxi" and made a jubilant journey home, happy to have claimed a spot in the next round to keep the dream alive.

Playing a side three levels below them in the football pyramid, the RMI side could be forgiven for showing a little complacency, making the job of Andy Nelson all the more important to drill it in to his players just how vital a successful cup run is to a side such as RMI.

The visitors started brightly, threatening the home goal on a couple of occasions early on and forcing a few corners, while John Lamb was virtually a spectator in the RMI goal, only brought in to the action by the odd back-pass.

With the Moor Park pitch having an almost Grundy Hill-esque slope from side to side, RMI had plenty of success with Lee Shillito down the right wing as he tormented the Town left back, running at him down the hill. However, he consistently failed to produce a decent cross and RMI looked to be losing a little faith as the half wore on.

That faith was quickly restored though when Gareth Stoker’s stinging drive from long distance was parried in to the path of the onrushing Chris Simm who slotted the ball home, much to the delight of the travelling supporters. Or at least that’s what I was told…I was in the toilet when the goal went in and simply heard the cheers of the RMI faithful!

The aforementioned complacency quickly set in though and the hosts crept back in to the game thanks to some amazingly lethargic play from RMI’s back four, with that laziness and slack passing finally catching Leigh out when the Cestrians equalised on the stroke of half-time. Everything wasn’t quite as rosy as before by the time the half-time whistle sounded.

RMI, obviously inspired by Andy Nelson’s half-time team talk, arrived on the pitch early for the second half, and they started with plenty more vigour as they began to realise that it was a real possibility that they could be the victims of a ‘giant killing’ in Durham.

RMI made most of the early chances in the second stanza, with Lee Thompson threatening down RMI’s right channel, though his frustration was becoming increasingly obvious, at one point viciously striking out at an advertising hoarding after missing a glorious chance to restore RMI’s lead.

As the hosts sniffed an upset, RMI stepped up a gear and finally got ahead when Neil Smith responded in almost identical fashion to Simm for the first goal, tapping in a shot that rebounded off the goalkeeper.

That finally knocked the stuffing out of the gallant hosts and Lee Thompson ended his own mini-nightmare when making it 3-1 near the end to seal the victory for RMI, a place in the next round and a cheque for £3,750 for the club.

It might not have been pretty, but as that great philosopher Holloway quipped, “let’s grab a coffee”.

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