Kettering 1 Stevenage 3

Gascoigne's cup runneth out

Having won his first league match as the boss of Kettering Town a week ago, Gazza yesterday endured his first defeat as Stevenage Borough, who play a division above his Conference North side, comfortably won this first-round tie.

"It was disappointing because I know my players can do better than that," Gascoigne said. "They are a bit upset but I'm pleased about that because it shows they care. The difference was that we are as yet only a semi-professional club, training two nights a week. In terms of preparation and fitness it is bound to show, and the sooner my players are full time the better."

The 4,548 attendance was double the crowd for Gascoigne's debut win over Droylsden, more than four times the previous average. Gazzamania has taken hold. The game was less than three minutes old when the first chorus of "Gazza, Gazza, gi'uz a wave" arose from the home fans on the popular side.

Cheerily, he obliged. Dressed in a pale blue shirt and dapper tie, Gascoigne clearly does not see himself as a tracksuit manager. Mostly, he lurked at the shoulder of head coach Paul Davis who was wearing a tracksuit and stood throughout at the front edge of the technical area. At one point, however, Gascoigne wandered off along the touchline towards the Stevenage goal, pursued by a bemused fourth official, who reminded Gazza that he was off limits.

Kettering's fate now depends on how their players cope with the spotlight Gascoigne's presence will shine on them. Yesterday they did not respond well.

Darryn Stamp headed Stevenage in front from a George Boyd cross after eight minutes and, although Christian Moore equalised for Kettering six minutes later, they were behind again two minutes before half-time, Stamp this time setting up Boyd to score with a deflected shot. The result was settled after 69 minutes when the Stevenage substitute Anthony Elding converted a low cross by Bullman.

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