Iyseden Christie dumped Exeter City out of the FA Trophy today with a fine goal midway through this game at a wind swept St James Park. The solitary goal was enough to see off a lack lustre City side with one eye on the play-offs.
With both Michael Blackwood and Gavin Hurren missing from the side that have now chalked up seven wins in eight games it meant starting places for Brian Smikle and Jake Sedgemore. Also on the bench was our latest addition to the side - Daniel McGhee, a free agent who has previously played for Hednesford Town.
This was also the fourth game in a row that the team have kept a clean sheet but at times in the second half of the game it looked likely that wouldn't have been the case today. It was only thanks to Scott Bevan performing more heroics that kept City out.
City had a strong side out with only Matthew Gill missing with a one match ban and their two new cup-tied signings, Steve Tully and Lee Elam, watching from the sidelines. Adam Stansfield and Lee Phillips were both on the bench after coming back from a viral infection but were to make second half appearances.
The game almost started with City going in front from the kick off. Jeff Kenna hesitated over a simple clearance and let in James Mackie with an easy chance to score but thankfully Bevan was on his toes and rushed out to block the strikers chance.
The Harriers responsed immediately with the ball quickly cleared up field for James Constable to strike a venomous shot towards the City goal but their keeper, Paul Jones, tipped the ball onto the crossbar for a fruitless corner.
The Harriers were making the most of the wind blowing in our favour during the first half and peppered the City goal throughout but in a rare breakaway it was the home side that should have taken the lead in the sixteenth minute. Lucky for us a former full back of ours was up to his usual penalty taking form and wasted the chance.
Dean Moxey broke past Kenna but what should have been a routine task for Brian Smikle in clearing the ball away from danger backfired as Mackie stumbled over his outstretched leg. Even though Smikes had cleared the ball away fairly the local, Somerset??? Why???, referee pointed to the spot. Up stepped Billy Jones and sent it well wide of the post.
The game went quiet for fifteen minutes before the next piece of goalmouth action. The ball was played over the Harriers defence, again City exposing Kennas lack of pace, and again Mackie squandered a great chance for his side when he blazed the ball way over the bar and almost over the old fishing nets propped up behind the away end.
From the resulting goal kick Christie grabbed the only goal of the game.
Scott Bevan cleared the ball down towards the City goal and, with the wind in our favour and Christie beating the offside trap, it was a simple task for the on form striker to lift the ball over the head of the exposed keeper. The eleventh goal of the season for the former Rochdale man.
Once City got over the shock of going down they responded with another wasted chance. This time Wayne Carlisle beat our more effective offside trap and fed the ball through to Moxey but his shot from the edge of the area hit the side netting.
Simon Russell then had a good chance from the edge of the area himself but his shot was weak and easily collected by the keeper. A minute before the half time whistle we should have increased our lead further when Danny Woodards cleared the ball off the line following a James Constable header.
All of the Harriers fans were convinced that the ball was over the line but we were at the other end of the ground so our calls weren't all that convincing.