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Gainsborough Trinity 2 Leigh RMI 1

By Matt Lawton
October 11 2005

RMI's Northolme hoodoo continued on Tuesday evening as they were dumped out of the FA Cup by Conference North rivals Gainsborough Trinity. After Saturday's game between the two sides ended in a 1-1 draw at Hilton Park, RMI's youthful side travelled to Lincolnshire confident of landing a plum tie at home to high-flying Conference side York City in the next round, despite losing 2-1 in their previous visit to Gainsborough this season in a league meeting in September.

It was RMI who were on the attack virtually straight from the kick off, earning a couple of corners in succession whilst failing to add the killer touch in a goalmouth scramble. However, those early exchanges didn't give much of an indication of what was to come. The hosts won a free kick to the right of RMI's penalty area when young full back Steve Howarth gave away a free kick, with the cross being headed in to the goal within the first five minutes of his home debut for Gainsborough by striker Stanley Udenkwor.

As was the case during the encounter on Saturday afternoon, Gainsborough looked very comfortable on the ball and further strengthened their reputation as a decent footballing side, with their confidence boosted further by their early lead. That lead was quickly doubled when RMI captain Andy Roscoe, again deputising in the centre of midfield for the injured Gareth Stoker, played a suicidal pass across the face of his own goal, straight to the feet of Charlie Trout who caught RMI goalkeeper John Lamb off-guard and fired an unspottable thirty yarder in to the net, much to the delight of the majority of a crowd that was some two-times larger than the crowd at Hilton Park for the first game.

That goal finally sparked RMI in to action and they had a credible appeal for a Gainsborough handball and possible appeal turned down before Ryan McDowell missed a golden opportunity to pull a goal back, firing wide at the back post after the ball had broken to him.

Leigh were getting back in to the game more and more and started to create a few more goalscoring chances, with striker Lee Thompson frustratingly spurning a couple of decent chances to halve the deficit. The first was a deft header that dropped agonisingly wide of the post, while the second was another chance at the back post, this time Thompson managing to slide at the ball, only for his strike to fly wide of the goal.

The Leeds-based referee then finally agreed with one of RMI's many appeals for a free kick around the edge of the box, but Ryan McDowell passed up on the opportunity to score, firing the ball wildly over the crossbar from a good position after usual set-piece specialist Andy Roscoe dummied a shot on goal. With that being the last goalmouth action of note in the first half, the home side were relieved to in at half-time two goals in front, keeping a clean sheet in the first period despite some decent chances for RMI.

Being two goals down in a knock-out game, RMI came out for the second half with nothing to lose and everything to gain, with a cheque for 5,000 and a lucrative game at home to York in the next round being the considerable carrot dangled in front of each side.

Leigh immediately set out to attack and had a half-chance when Lee Thompson, despite facing the wrong way, managed to flick the ball towards goal, only for the Gainsborough goalkeeper to save it, before the hosts quickly went up the other end and spurned an almost identical opportunity.

After McDowell missed a first half free kick, this time it would be Andy Roscoe to have a go at goal when RMI were awarded a free kick in an excellent position close to the edge of the area after Thompson was fouled. Again McDowell and Roscoe were over the ball, but this time it was McDowell dummying for Roscoe, who promptly sliced his shot completely and sent the ball out of the ground.

Leigh boss Andy Nelson brought on three substitutes as RMI tried to chase the game, but as they pushed up they left themselves in trouble at the back and should've gone 3-0 down when a flowing Gainsborough counter attack was ended by Matt Cauldwell firing the ball high in to the stand behind the goal with Lamb stranded and virtually the whole goal to slot the ball in to and extend the lead.

Again RMI were relieved to survive and again attacked the Gainsborough goal, McDowell missing another chance from a decent position, firing an ambitious volley over the bar after the ball reached him on the edge of the penalty area.

With time quickly running out, RMI saw their FA Cup hopes slipping away from them by the second. With several players from both sides suffering from cramp late in the second half, a mammoth amount of injury time was added on to the 90 minutes, and RMI finally got a bit of hope in the 95th minute of the game when defender-cum-striker Neil Smith latched on to a terrific through ball and expertly slotted his shot past the onrushing goalkeeper, showing coolness in a one-on-one situation that belies his fairly recent move from the back line to the forward line.

With one last ditch attack to force an equaliser against the odds and take the game in to extra time, RMI forced a corner kick, only for the referee to controversially blow the final whistle before Leigh had time to take the corner.

Although obviously disappointed with the eventual result, tonight's experience will hold Andy Nelson's charges in good stead for the future, and who knows? There's always next year!

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