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Leigh RMI 1 Tamworth 1

By Matt Lawton
September 20 2003

RMI had their third man sent off in two weeks and were in all honesty were lucky to come away with a point from this afternoon's home game against Tamworth, despite leading at half time. The Railwaymen halted their three match losing run but they certainly weren't convincing against what was a pretty poor, but dogged, Tamworth side and were more than lucky to escape with just a point.

RMI will be indebted to former Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Gary Kelly, who was making his debut in place of regular goalkeeper Stuart Coburn. Many questioned the exclusion of Coburn in the pre-match discussions but Kelly certainly proved his salt with a string of superb saves to keep his side in the game and was certainly unlucky when he was finally beaten.

It had all started so well for RMI, with the hosts leading at half time, thanks to Steve Redmond's goal, who headed home from an acute angle directly off a Warren Peyton corner. Although Leigh led at half time, they certainly didn't have it all their way in what was a scrappy first half, although they should've led 2-0 at the break. Former Bolton Wanderers striker Chris Downey, making his home debut after coming on as a first half substitute for the injured Neil Robinson, headed barely inches wide of the far post from only a few yards out after a sublime cross from the impressive assistant coach-player Phil Starbuck, who was making his competitive debut for RMI, shortly after Redmond's opening goal.

The home support hoped that Leigh's half time lead would provide the impetus for RMI to go on and record a comfortable victory, but unfortunately things didn't go to plan.

Tamworth, very quiet in the first half and living up to their position as the side second from bottom of the Conference, seemed a completely different team and spent most of the second half camped in the RMI half, with the hosts barely being able to relieve the pressure and create chances of their own.

RMI 'keeper Kelly produced save after save before he was finally beaten, only for RMI defender Paul Shepherd to prevent the ball going into the net with the use of his arms. A penalty was consequently to Tamworth, with Shepherd going the same way as Wayne Maden and Martyn Lancaster did in last week's defeat at Gravesend and heading for an early bath. Scott Rickards converted the penalty and the scores were level.

RMI struggled with their ten men but Kelly commanded an eventually succesful one man crusade for a point.

Leigh will have to be grateful for the point they managed to receive, because they were certainly very lucky at times and but for the brilliance of Kelly, RMI could've been on the end of an embarrassingly heavy defeat.

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