Harriers 3 Halifax Town 1 FA Trophy Quarter Final
away fans: 293
Russell inspires Harriers Trophy win
The Harriers made their way into the Semi Finals of the FA Trophy today at the expense of Halifax Town after going into half time 1-0 down. Three second half goals, and a return after injury for Iyseden Christie, saw the Harriers gain the upperhand against their fellow Conference side but we were made to work hard in defence to gain the victory.
Starting with an un-changed side from the one that lost to Dagenham on Tuesday evening the only difference was on the bench where Iyseden Christie took over from Luke Reynolds. He was making his comeback, and not before time, after suffering a leg injury against York City in January.
It was the Harriers that started the game in a more positive frame of mind with James Constable getting an early chance to open the scoring but just as he was about to shoot a defender threw himself in the way. Danny Forrest found himself in a similar situation for the visitors just moments after but this time it was Stuart Whitehead to the rescue with a great block.
The first shot on target came from the Yorkshiremen just before the half hour mark when Felix Bastians, on loan from Nottm Forest, sent over a cross for the tall central defender Chris Billy to get a head to but Scott Bevan was equal to the downward header and smothered the ball at the foot of the post.
Mark Creighton almost found himself in the referees note book just after when he went in strongly on former Harrier, Darryn Stamp, but the official chose to just have word in his ear about what would happen next time.
The Harriers had a call for a penalty turned down mid way through the half when James Constable chased a ball into the area and was challenged by Neal Trotman but the referee deemed that Constable had dived over Trotmans legs and turned the appeal away. Russell Penn was then given his thirteenth yellow card of the season when he crudely fouled Killeen near the halfway line.
Both sides were struggling to get any kind of momentum going and Simon Russell, although trying hard to get something going, was finding himself closely marked every time he had the ball at his feet.
With one minute of extra time being announced Halifax took the lead when they were awarded a corner on the left. Taken by Tom Kearney, it was floated over to the near post and met by Trotman who found himself in acres of space to soar above the defence and bury the ball into Scott Bevans net.
HT: 0 - 1
The second half belonged to Simon Russell after he ripped Halifax apart with some excellent creative football. Scholesy has his detractors but he's the one player we have that can turn a game with some decent ball control and his ability to take a player on and turn him. When he does lose the ball he makes every effort to chase after the player and retrieve the ball.
It was Russell who's initial cross got us back into the game and then minutes later another fine cross helped to give us the lead.
The first, and equalising goal, came on fifty one minutes when Russell sent a cross over the area to the far side of goal where Michael Blackwood met the ball with a superb volley that was worthy of praise itself. The ball cannoned into Craig Mawson, the former Hereford goalkeeper, and then fell for Constable to turn the ball into the net for his first goal in five games.
Halifax knew then that they could not sit back but had to go onto the attack if they intended to win the game. A mistake in defence, with a combination of Harkness, Whitehead and Kenna all leaving the job to each other, let in Danny Forrest who was only stopped from scoring by a typical Bevan save with his legs.
We took the lead on fifty seven minutes when Russell jinked past a Halifax defender to send a cross over to the near post. For once we had bodies in the area and Gavin Hurren was on hand to force the ball from the clutches of Mawsons hands with his head and into the net for his fourth goal of the season.
In our next attack Constable had another penalty claim waved away when he was fouled by Cresswell, just as he was about to shoot for goal. For reasons known only to himself the ref didn't see anything wrong with stopping a player from scoring by attempting to break his legs and waved the calls away yet again.
Now James had scored he went all out to add another and came close with a volley that skewed just wide of Mawsons upright. Gary Hay also went close with a toe poke but the effort went well over the bar.
Town were still not giving up and were determined to get back into the game. For a ten minute spell they attacked the Harriers goal at every opportunity and it was only some last ditch defending that kept them out. Crosses were coming in from every angle but the likes of Kenna and Whitehead, who should both have enough experience in these things, failed time and again to clear the ball away cleanly and it kept coming back to them.
With a break in the play came the substitution that we had all been waiting for when Christie returned to the fray after his time in the First Aid room. With almost his first touch of the ball though he went and got himself booked.
Somewhat unfairly the referee said that his challenge on the keeper, to get at the ball when he wasn't even holding it at the time, was illegal. Christie said something to the ref and the idiot booked him.
He'll now miss next Saturdays six pointer against Gravesend.
With four minutes of injury time to play, and Halifax still going all out for an equaliser, the Harriers put paid to Towns sojourn in this seasons FA Trophy with a goal from Russ Penn. A break saw him collect the ball on the edge of the area and, looking at wasting a bit of time, he took aim at the Halifax goal. To everyone's surprise the ball was fumbled and dropped by the one time Hereford keeper to confirm the Harriers progress into the semi finals.
With the draw being made at lunch-time on Monday we have a choice of Northwich or Stevenage and the winners of the Welling/Grays match being played tomorrow. With two legs in the next round any team we get paired with is going to be tough but I think that this is our year and I don't care who we get.
It's just a formality.
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