Harriers 2 Darlington 1 (LDV Trophy 1)
away fans: 65
Why can't we play like this every week
The Harriers got over the shock of an un-warranted penalty early in the game to overcome a somewhat relaxed Darlington in the LDV Trophy tonight with goals from Wayne Hatswell and a second half penalty from Gareth Sheldon. In truth with the amount of pressure we put on Darlington in the second half it could easily have been five.
Against all expectations Stuart Watkiss decided that the only change to the usual line up would be the replacement of John Danby with Danny Lewis. To his credit Lewis didn't do too much wrong and he can be very pleased with his contribution tonight even though he didn't have a shot to save.
The only downside to the game was the petty refereeing that ended up with a fistful of yellow cards for us including a fifth yellow of the season for Iyseden Christie that will mean he will be forced to miss the FA Cup game against Southport on Saturday.
Daryl Burgess was the first in the book within seconds of the game starting for what looked a fair, but hard tackle when he took the ball cleanly from the feet of Simon Johnson but bringing him down in the process.
Another clean tackle, this time from Mark Jackson, conceded the penalty. He got booked for that and Ndumbu-Nsungu scored easily from the spot to give Darlo the lead.
We tried to get back into the game but a strong Darlington defence wasn't giving Christie much sight of the ball with three men surrounding him for most of the time. On forty minutes our game picked up and we saw a shot from Hatswell go just outside the post followed by a shot from Gareth Sheldon that Sam Russell, in goal for Darlo, did well to hold. Burgess then went close with a header that was stopped on the line by a defender and from the resulting corner Wayne Hatswell got highest to power the ball into the net.
The lads went into the break all square and both sides equally matched.
HT: 1 - 1
For the second half there was a change for us with Laurie Wilson coming on for Martin O'Connor.
Right from the re-start there was more effort in attack for us and Christie went close with a shot that went wide from twelve yards out. We were now starting to find some holes in the visitors defence that Christie, Sheldon and Simon Russell were exploiting with ease.
The only problem was the age old story of our inability to shoot on sight and pass it around rather than go for the jugular. On fifty eight minutes we had a great chance to grab the lead when Christie was bought down just outside the area by Matt Clarke. Sheldons free kick beat Russell but hit the post and went out for a goal kick.
We had another free kick ten minutes later that could so easily have been a penalty. The dangerous Christie was again bought down, this time on the white line, but the free kick was well saved by Russell this time.
On eighty three minutes we took the lead following a handball in the penalty area from Shelton Martis and this time Gareth Sheldon made no mistake with a coolly taken penalty that he stroked into the top left of the net with Russell motionless.
Darlo tried to raise their game but they just were not good enough and we could have gone further ahead when a speculative shot from Simon Russell saw his namesake off the line as his dipping shot struck the bar with a crash.
The final few minutes were played out with possession football and our name will go into the draw for the next round on Saturday morning. I'm not sure if it was Darlington allowing us to play football but we put together some nice passing moves tonight and also some good performances from all the side. The ball hardly spent any time in the air and that made it a decent spectacle for the handful of fans that turned up.
More of the same at Southport please.