Harriers 1 Halifax Town 0
away fans: 41
Own goal gets the Harriers back on track
The Harriers put an end to their unwanted mini run of four League defeats with this League and Cup double over a hard working Halifax Town. In our case it was another poor first half showing that was only brightened up by an unlucky own goal for Halifax's Ryan Toulson.
The game saw the return of Iyseden Christie and Stuart Whitehead to the side after one game bans and again the game was played on a bog of a pitch after recent heavy rain.
Apart from the goal the first half was a total nonentity in terms of footballing skills from the Harriers and one wonders what has gone wrong with our game when the visitors seemed to manage perfectly well but could not deliver the final touch needed.
Our only effort on goal during the early stages came from Russ Penn when he sent in a long range effort on twelve minutes but it was rising all the way and was never going to put Craig Mawson under any kind of pressure. The one that did seem to be under pressure was Jeff Kenna as he made repeated mistakes at the back when caught in possession. Other times he fell over the ball or was beaten for pace continually.
A flurry of bookings started to break the game up and the names of Wright and Uhlenbeek went into the referees book for lunging tackles on James Constable and Michael Blackwood. Jonny Harkness was also guilty of some dubious tackles but got away with it.
We saw a glimpse of us getting back into the game when Mawson had to punch a Harkness free kick after coming under pressure from Christie and Constable. Soon after Halifax had an optimistic claim for a penalty turned down when Steve Torpey burst into the area but was beautifully tackled by Whitehead when he flicked the ball from his path played it onto the other foot and cleared it all in one move. Torpey fell over his bootlaces and then claimed he was tripped.
On thirty one minutes we took the lead against the run of play. Simon Russell played the ball out to the wing for Constable who then sent in a great cross for someone to run onto. It wasn't a Harrier who got there first though, it was the Towns's makeshift central defender Toulson who tried to head it clear but failed to do so cleanly and it spun into the goal with Mawson helpless.
Instead of trying to build on the lead gifted to us we seemed to settle back and allow Halifax to continue coming at us. The half drifted to a close with no further action.
HT: 1 - 0
The second half was more of the same. Christie had been quiet for all of the firsts half and that continued until the hour mark when Mark Yates withdrew him in favour of Luke Reynolds.
It was like an alarm clock going off as we suddenly woke up and started to play. Our passing started to gell and the whole team had a more purposeful look about them and we won our first corner six minutes after the substitution. Harkness took it and Mark Creighton launched himself above the Halifax defence to send a powerful header straight at the keeper.
Tempers started to fray again just after and Michael Blackwood found himself booked after retaliating to a vicious tackle. Strange there was no booking for the instigator of the crime, or was it because the referee didn't see it?
Luke Reynolds also found himself booked when he went in for a fifty fifty ball and caught the player on the ankle. Soon after that Uhlenbeek crunched into Constable yet again but this time got just a talking to after the ref realised that he had already been booked during the first half.
Blackwood had a good chance to score soon after when Simon Russell sent in a cross but Blackie found himself just beaten to the ball by a defender.
With fifteen minutes of the game remaining Gavin Hurren went off injured after being studded on the ankle by Uhlenbeek and Jake Sedgemore came on in a straight swap. Uhlenbeek was also removed from the field as a precaution against being sent off and Simon Parke came on in his place.
With what was almost his first touch of the ball Parke came close to scoring when his header, from a Shane Smeltz cross, went just over the bar.
Our last chance of a goal came from Luke Reynolds when he broke for goal after the referee waved play on following a foul on Constable by Toulson. Luke's shot was superbly saved at the foot of the post by Mawson and the ref then called Toulson over to him and yellow carded him.
In the dying minutes Andy White came on to help run time down and the game finally ended as a first League win in some time for the Harriers. The three points keeps us in eleventh position in the table but still ten points short of the play-off places. Halifax look to be in deep trouble with both Altrincham and Tamworth, below them, picking up points in recent weeks.
We now have what could be the highlight of the season to look forward to with the visit of Northwich on Saturday for the first episode in the Trophy semi finals. We'll need to raise our game if we hope to travel North the following week with a decent goal margin.
That needs an understanding from the team that we are allowed to play during the first forty five minute period of a game and that we are also allowed to pass the ball to each other and not launch it into outer space all the time.