A shocking, spineless decision by the referee Ray Olivier of Sutton Coldfield robbed the Harriers of a penalty and all three points in this fast paced game at Aggborough tonight.
In a moment of sheer ineptitude he first gave the penalty after a blue clad arm was clearly seen to punch the ball out of the melee from a Sam Shilton corner. The ref, who was in the perfect position to see it, immediately pointed to the spot but, as JJ Melligan placed the ball in the appropriate place, the ref found himself being pushed, jostled and snarled at by the Shrewsbury players.
The lynch mob wanted meat and the little man in black was so terrified he staggered across, knees a knocking, to his companion out on the far side of the pitch. The totally unsighted lino, who had never raised his flag for any offence in the first place, agreed that the best option if they wanted to get out of Aggie in one piece would be to reverse the original correct decision and give Shrewsbury a goal kick for a ball that had never gone out of play in the first place.
The sheer incompetence of these people astounded every one in the three sided stadium but it was only one of a catalogue of bad refereeing by Mr Olivier that also included missed handballs, elbows in faces and other missed infringements by both sides.
The game started off at pace with the Reds looking to expand on their wins against Southend and Cambridge. The first few flourishes went to the Harriers with some slick passing but eventually Shrewsbury started to settle down and control the game. The Reds changed their game to the hoof it style and the first half ended up being a frustrating one for the home fans.
The first frustration came on 7 minutes when Shrewsbury took the lead. A free kick from Ian Woan was sent to the head of Wilding who deftly placed his glancing header beyond the reach of Fraser Digby and into the far corner.
It was a good goal but one that we didn't expect. We didn't expect the next one 8 minutes later either.
It was Woan who again set it up, this time for Green Mile Man, Luke Rodgers.
His pass out to the left wing from the centre circle found the Harriers defenders static and flag watching as Rodgers cut inside Wes Morgan and tucked a shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the penalty area. Fraser Digby was also guilty of watching something other than the game because he didn't seem to realise that he was in any kind of danger as the ball daisy cut it's way past him.
In between the goals JJ had missed an easy chance when he headed the ball way off target after good work from Adie Smith
on the bye line.
Shrewsbury had to make an enforced substitution on 22 minutes when Tolley went off injured. Jagielka took his place.
It was Jagielka who set up Rodgers for another chance but he wasted it by sending it high over the stand with the jeers of the Harriers fans ringing around the stadium.
Five minutes after the Harriers wasted another chance to open their account. Danny Williams set Melligan free on the right but Andy Bishop dragged his cross well wide of the mark from 6yds out.
At the other end the Shrews keeper Mark Cartwright came off second best in a one on one with Adie Smith but, as the ball ran free, Drewe Broughton couldnt quite get enough on it to convert the chance into a goal.
Just before the interval Andy Bishop went close yet again when he saw his shot trickle past the outside of the post after a turn and shot from the edge of the area.
It had been a poor 45 minutes for us. Again we were relying on balls over the top too much and, apart from the opening spell, our passing game had gone missing.
Shrewsbury, and Luke Rodgers in particular, were ripping us apart purely by passing the ball around and our answer to this was to boot the ball back to them so they could do it all again.