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Gravesend & Northfleet 1 Harriers 3

Date: 02-12-06 Venue: Stonebridge Road att: 1160 away fans: 70+
Harkness scuttles the 'Fleet
Jonny Harkness came back to the side for his first start since a defeat at Halifax at the beginning of October, a game that saw him last for just the first half and not to return until last Saturdays home defeat to Stevenage when he came on late in the game.

Now, because of the injury to Stuart Whitehead, he found himself back in favour in a shuffled defence that saw him pair up with Jeff Kenna while Michael Blackwood moved back out wide.    On loan James Constable and Rob Davies again both started.

Jonny Harkness is not the worlds greatest footballer in the eyes of some fans but today he put them in their places by rifling in two of the goals that sunk Gravesend and left them crashing into the rocks (have you spotted the nautical theme yet?).

He was helped in his goal quest by Blackwood who had probably one of his best games for us so far and regularly swept through the Gravesend defence at will.

Both of Harkness's goals came from free kicks and the first one arrived in the twentieth minute when James Constable was bought down by Danny Slatter on the edge of the area.    Known for his prowess at set pieces, Harkness sent the kick soaring into the top corner of Lance Cronins net.

Before the massed ranks of Harriers fans could draw breath we went further into the lead.    The man that had been wronged just a few minutes earlier, Constable, grabbed a second goal for us.

With the home side still shell shocked at the first goal Blackwood again waltzed through the meagre defence to slip the ball through to the on loan Walsall man to fire the ball home.

The home side were spurred into action then for a short while as first Charlie MacDonald had a shot well saved by the tall Harriers keeper, Scott Bevan, and then Ross Smith saw his strong header equally well dealt with by Bevan.

We'd picked up a couple of bookings during this half with first Russ Penn going into the local (Essex!!!) referee's book after fouling Stacey Long and then on thirty five minutes Constable was booked for not retreating at a free kick.    Gravesend also had a booking that should really have been a red card when Peter Hawkins viciously clattered into Michael Blackwood after the speedy winger once more left the home defence for dead.    Incredibly the homer ref thought that it wasn't that bad and bottled it.

In the dying minutes of the half Omome Sodje - another of the Sodje tribe to swamp the footballing world - came close to pulling a goal back for his side.    His shot went straight through the Harriers defence but, lucky for us, Gavin Hurren managed to get a foot to it and stop it entering the net.
HT: 0 - 2
Most sides would have been happy with a two goal lead at half time and just sit back to defend but not the now invigorated Harriers.    Straight from the re-start we went for it and Constable was unlucky to see his header from a Jonny Harkness corner hit the woodwork.

Seconds earlier there was almost an own goal when a Gravesend defender in-advertently back headed the ball onto the bar with the keeper un-sighted.

Twelve minutes into the new half and the game was over for the Kentish crowd.

Another foul from Hawkins on James Constable was rewarded with a free kick to the Harriers twenty yards from goal.    Harkness again elected to take it and Harkness again sent the ball screaming into the goal and left Cronin clutching air.

It could have been three for the man on fire just minutes later when his corner ball struck the post and went out for a goal kick.

Jeff Kenna found himself entered into the referees notebook for a foul on Jon Keeling but the free kick was easily dealt with by Bevan as he punched the ball away.    Blackwood was again bought down un-mercifully by Long who also merited the same punishment as Kenna.

Blackwood himself could have got onto the scoresheet minutes later but his long range strike went just centimetres wide.

Gravesend grabbed themselves a consolation goal in the dying minutes of the game when Hawkins scored from six yards out but it wasn't enough to take the gloss off another fine away win for the Harriers.

Why can't we do this at home?    Will we do it against Alty at Aggborough next week?
FT: 1 - 3

 Goal for Gravesend: Hawkins 87
 Goals for Harriers: Harkness 20, 57, Constable 22

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Gravesend  subs   cards      Harriers  subs   cards 
Cronin     Bevan  
Hawkins gif   Kenna gif
Opinel     Harkness  
Long gif   Hurren  
Smith     Creighton  
McCarthy     Davies gif
Slatter gif   Russell  
Quinn     Penn gif
Sodje     Christie  
MacDonald     Constable gif
Keeling     Blackwood  
SUBS:       SUBS:    
Mott     S Taylor  
DeBolla     Smikle  
Coleman     Reynolds  
Purcell     White  
Moore     Sedgemore  

Mr N Kinseley

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