Kidsgrove Athletic’s FA Cup dream ended this afternoon in the North East but it wasn’t for the lack of trying as they ran Hartlepool United all the way but went out 1-0 thanks to an early goal from Niko Muir.
Grove boss Ryan Austin named the same side that beat Workington 2-1 in the replay just over a week ago, while Matthew Bates, the Hartlepool United manager, must have been wary of what he saw in Staffordshire when he checked out Kidsgrove v Workington in the replay and named a full-strength line-up which included National League big hitters such as Liam Noble and Michael Woods. While captaining the Pools was former Stoke City man Andrew Davies.
It was the worst possible start for the Grove as they went behind in the 8th minute, when they weren’t able to clear a short corner, which was recycled into the area and Muir stooped to head home.
Kurasik had to be on hand on 16 minutes when he had to punch away a Davies’ effort after he got his head on the ball.
Kidsgrove tried their best to get themselves into the game, but facing an opposition who are three divisions above themselves it was always going to be hard, as Lee Williamson saw his free-kick cleared as he tried to whip the ball into a dangerous area.
Anthony Malbon almost equalised for Grove on 40 minutes when he saw his excellent volley pushed away by former England Under 21s international Scott Loach.
With the words of Ryan Austin ringing in their ears after the interval the Kidsgrove players came out fighting with Chris Budrys setting up Kyle Diskin, but his effort went over the bar before Adam Freeland saw his header go straight into the hands of Loach.
Before Lewis Bergin, who scored a screamer in the Workington replay in the last round, dragged his shot just wide on 57 minutes.
Diskin forced Loach into a fine save on 70 minutes when hit a low free kick, which he had to tip around the post before Bergin saw his flick on saved on the line by the keeper.
As the tie wore on Kidsgrove started to feel it in the legs but despite the pain they weren’t letting it show as they held firm to deny Hartlepool a second as well as trying to create their own last-gasp chance to level up proceedings and force game to a replay, but it wasn’t to be as they bow out of this season’s competition.
Kidsgrove can be proud of their efforts in this season’s competition knocking out league rivals Ramsbottom United, Atherton Collieries, Mossley and Workington
After the game Grove boss, Ryan Austin told Moorlands Radio: “We worked a lot in the week as we knew they would dominate possession and we would to keep our shape and be organised and well drilled and we did that.
“It’s disappointing that we have conceded a sloppy goal and they haven’t had to work for it and I think that we will look back on the fact that we have conceded a really poor goal and they haven’t created a great deal other than that and we potentially had the better chances in the second half and had a right go at them.”
He went onto say: “I’ve just spoken with their manager, Matthew Bates, and he is giving us loads of credit, which is nice to hear at the end of the day and everyone saying we’ve done well.
“But at the end of the day we’ve still lost a football match, but there is a load of positives we can take out of today’s game and when we sit back and evaluate it then if we can perform like we did week in week out in our league and in the FA Trophy then there is no reason why we can’t have a good Trophy run and be right up there in the league.”
I also spoke to Hartlepool United manager Matthew Bates and you can hear what he had to say.
Kidsgrove Athletic: Kuraski, Freeland, Morris, Bergin, Bulter, Rhodes, Diskin, Williams, Budrys, Malbon and Williamson.
Subs: Burzynski, Runmenio (Bergin, 73), Saxon (Budrys, 65), Cole (Diskin, 86), Twyford, Jepson and Austin.
Hartlepool United: Loach, Donaldson, Kioso, Davies, Mangnay, Kitching, Featherstone, Noble, Woods, Muir and James
Subs: Catterick, Richardson, Anderson, Hawkins, McLaughlin (Woods, 65), Hawke (Noble, 65) and Dinanga (Muir, 90).