The fate of Kidderminster Harriers
The fate of Kidderminster Harriers play-off campaign was summed up in a single strike at Aggborough yesterday -- A 94th minute strike from Hartelpool's Eifion Williams.
Going into the match, the league leaders from the North East had only won once in their last handful of games, and the returns of J.J. Melligan and Bo Henriksen set the scene for a potential Harriers victory.
If the opening moments of the game were anything to go by, Harriers seemed more than confident of that victory by storming the game with an electric pace. The crowd in the North Stand thought their side had gotten off to the perfect start when Andy Bishop looked certain to score, but unluckily, his effort pounded off the cross bar and bounced on the wrong side of the line before being cleared by the Pool defence. Leading scorer Bo Henriksen was next to attempt an effort on goal, but was sent flying into the penalty area by a United player. Instead of giving the penalty the referee chose to book the Dane for diving.
Kidderminster's relentless pressure eventually paid off on twenty-two minutes when they opened the scoring. Sam Shilton proved his worth with a decent cross which reached Andy Bishop; Bishop's effort fell inches past 'Pool Williams, but Bo Henriksen was on hand to score from close range and send the home support into an absolute frenzy.
As the sunshine beamed down on Aggborough, the afternoon got better and better with a strike of sheer excellence from loan-man Andy Bishop just five minutes later. The Walsall man capitalized on a defensive error from Hartlepool to smash an unstoppable half-volley into the net, completely silencing the already hushed United travelling support.
The theme was continuous right up to half time and Harriers dominated the league leaders and were lucky not to have scored more.
HT. 2 - 0
Rather predictably however, Harriers failed to continue this dominance into the second half and they were left to rue their earlier missed chances. To be fair Hartlepool did look a better side after the interval but there's no doubt that if Kiddy' had played as well as they had in the first half, then you would've needed two hands to count the score line.
This was sadly not the case, and on 63 minutes, Darell Clarke fired a volley past Stuart Brock in the Harriers goal, to wake up their travelling fans and send a wave of nervousness throughout the Harriers team and supporters. Kidderminster had goalkeeper Stuart Brock to thank for keeping them in the lead as the former Villa man was on good form to deny the Hartlepool attack.
The North end was as noisy has it's been for a while as the Reds looked to have just about secured the points after seeing out four minutes of injury time, but a mistake from Dion Scott and some sheer bad luck saw what looked at one stage to be certain victory, snapped away from them.
Hartlepool United claimed a share of the points as their leading scorer Eifion Williams raced onto the end of a poorly executed pack pass from Dion Scott to fire the ball home, and silence the home crowd, sending the supporters into complete and utter shock.
You could say Harriers only have themselves to blame. A terrific first half performance made the leaders of our division look distinctively average and at 2-0 up, you could've been forgiven thinking we were home and dry. Credit where its due to Hartlepool, they took a valuable point that keeps them top of the league, meanwhile Harriers have it all to do to catch a play-off spot.
My Man Of The Match: Stuart Brock - Not at fault for either goal, and if it hadn't been Brockie in goal you have to believe we wouldn't have even had a point from this game.
Matt ''Moo'' Wall.
FT. 2 - 2