Littlejohn comes to Pilgrims' aid

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The Independent Online
TREVOR HAYLETT

Kingstonian 1 Plymouth Argyle 2

The FA Cup has abandoned all notion of romance at the second-round stage. At the Kingsmeadow stadium yesterday, Plymouth survived with their dream of glory intact but there was no question who were kings for the afternoon.

For long periods of a tie that reached heights of great excitement, it seemed Kingstonian of the Icis League would succeed against league opposition where seven of their non-League brethren had succumbed 24 hours before.

Some of their approach play put their Third Division visitors to shame. Kingstonian recovered from their early blow, fought back to claim an equaliser just before half-time and at that stage a greater prize appeared to be within reach.

But their big day in front of the TV cameras carried a savage twist. Five minutes remained and a replay, which would have been poor reward for their effort and enterprise, was beckoning when Adrian Littlejohn finally lived up to his advanced billing.

The pounds 200,000 summer signing from Sheffield United had scored 12 in the league before the start but this was his first in the Cups. It would have looked good in the highest company: a neat chest control and an over-the- shoulder hooked finish into the corner of the net.

Littlejohn needed to produce something then, otherwise he was destined for a severe ear-bashing. ''Our front players were a waste of time, a waste of space in the first half but I knew as long as they began to function, we would be OK,'' a relieved Argyle manager, Neil Warnock, said.

After Chris Leadbitter angled a low drive in the eighth minute, Kingstonian began to come more into the game and move the Plymouth defenders around at will. Phil Wingfield displayed astute touches but it was to their speedy winger, Eddie Akuamoah, that they looked to enforce the kill.

Sure enough, on the stroke of half-time, his cross was delivered accurately to the far post for Jon Warden to score via an upright. Immediately after that Wingfield carved out a clear opening but shot into the side-netting and, at the start of the second half, Danny Brooker was acrobatically denied by Kevin Blackwell.

As the visitors' greater fitness began to tell Littlejohn took over, allowing Warnock to dream of third-round riches.

Kingstonian (4-4-2): Root; Finch, Warmington, Nebbeling, Riley; Brooker, Luckett (Stevens, 86), Fisher, Akuamoah; Wingfield (Bolton, 80), Warden. Substitute not used: Jasper.

Plymouth Argyle (4-4-2): Blackwell; Patterson, Heathcote, Hill, Williams; Billy (Magee, 81), Clayton (Logan, 90), Mauge, Leadbitter (Baird, 69); Evans, Littlejohn.

Referee: R Harris (Oxford).

Bookings: Brooker, Fisher (Kingstonian);

Clayton (Plymouth).

Man of the match: Warmington.

Attendance: 2,961.

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