Harriers 2 Woking 1
away fans: 200
Atieno debut reaps the reward
The Harriers new loan signing, Taiwo Atieno, came off the bench with the Reds 1-0 down to stun battling Woking into submission with two goals in ten minutes. After a first half of rain soaked entertainment it needed something special to lift the spirits of the Harriers faithful and those two goals hit the spot with his second stunning everyone with it's simplicity and power.
Up until then it had been a dour struggle for both sides to produce good football with the rain sleeting down and lying in pools on the Aggborough turf. Try they did though and at times it produced glimpses of what we can look forward to this season with a leaner (slightly) and fitter Iyseden Christie using all his tactical nous to beat the Woking rearguard, Martin O'Connor, Wayne Evans and Daryl Burgess giving us a far more solid look in defence and Simon Russell impishly terrorising as only he can.
We had a bit of a shock within the first two minutes of the opening gambit when Woking managed to get the ball into the net. The ball bounced awkwardly in front of John Danby but he managed to get a fingertip to it to push the ball into the air above him only to see Justin Richards come storming in to head the ball home but fouling Danby on his way in.
The ref rightly discounted the effort much to the disappointment of the handful of Woking fans.
With the rain getting worse by the minute there was not much more serious action apart from a chance from Richards again when he managed to get a shot in after being fed by Ian Selley. Amazingly Danby managed to get down to stop the ball with his legs.
By the end of the half the light was getting bad and we really needed the floodlights on to see what was going on at the far end as Michael Blackwood managed to get his head onto a Wayne Evans cross but sent the ball well wide of goal.
HT: 0 - 0
The rain had eased off by the time the teams returned to the field and the sun was trying hard to shine through the heavy grey cloud cover. The pitch was still sodden though with the water struggling to drain away.
Again it was the same story with a goal in the opening minutes of play but this time there was nothing wrong with it and the goal was allowed to stand. It came about following a mix up between Danby and Mark Jackson with both capable of going for the incoming ball but both leaving it to the other as Richards nipped in to roll it into the empty net.
Although we were now a goal to the bad it didn't look like the end of the world and we watched as Christie and Russell kept plugging away. Simon had a great chance to equalise with a speculative lob over the off his line keeper but the ball just wasn't high enough and the keeper managed to grab hold of it, he then had another chance with a shot that was deflected away for a corner.
That corner could also have resulted in a goal but the strong header from Christie was blocked on the line by Liam Cockerill.
The feeling from the crowd was that Christie could do with some help up front now because he was getting into some good positions but continually found himself up against three men all the time. Stuart Watkiss acted on that by bringing on the Walsall loanee, Atieno, in place of Lee Thompson.
That move paid dividends almost immediately when the Harriers were awarded a penalty. Christie burst through the Woking defence yet again but found himself heading for the byeline without any real chance of making a diversion towards the goal but for reasons known only to himself Liam Cockerill took him out.
With the ref pointing to the spot Tai stood there staring at the Cards keeper while behind him the ref was trying to make sure that everyone kept their toes the right side of the white line.
Atieno calmly struck the ball to Jalal's left with the keeper just about getting a hand on the ball but not enough to stop it ending up in the net.
It was all Harriers now and you could sense that we were about to win this game. That winner came in an astonishing fashion in the dying embers of the game.
Wayne Hatswell sent over a pin point cross from the left and into a ruck of players. Gazelle like, Atieno rose way above everybody else to send a downward directed header into the back of Jamal's goal leaving the keeper open mouthed in shock.
It was a good way to end the game and a good way to start our season back in the Conference. I think today gave a lot of fans the confidence that we could regain our League place by the end of the season but it's early days yet so we'll see how we get on against Exeter first before making predictions.