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Harriers 0 Northwich Victoria 1

Date: 31-03-07 Venue: Aggborough att: 1621 away fans: 38
Harriers get the Wembley blues
Northwich gained their revenge for the exit from the FA Trophy at our hands by coming to Aggborough today and finally putting paid to our slender play-off hopes with this solitary goal win.    We did little to stop them getting their own back though, we just stood aside and did nothing.

With one eye on the Trophy final in May we have been playing this way ever since we qualified and with similar poor results against Tamworth, St Albans Burton and now Northwich it appears that must be the reason why.

Even when we had gone a goal down we just didn't seem interested in making a fight of it and it took a halftime rollicking along with an early return to the pitch for what looked like a spot of line dancing to get them to understand that we still need to win games between now and May.

Mark Yates keeps on telling the fans that the last result was just a blip on our play-off hopes so maybe it's time he told his own team because they just don't seem to have got it into their thick heads yet.

The game started in freezing, pouring rain that forced most of the watching crowd towards the back of the stands but that soon cleared to a brightish afternoon.    Yates chose to go with the two remaining new boys - Andy Ferrell has returned to Hereford for treatment to an injury - slotting into the places of Jeff Kenna (Glenn Wilson) and Michael Blackwood (Jon Brady).

Brady didn't last long on the left side of the field and swapped places with Simon Russell mid way through the half.    The upshot was that instead of one wideman performing well and another poorly we now had two widemen playing badly.    Please do not do that again Mark, it didn't work and never will.    Just send Brady back to Cambridge and stick with Blackwood.

In fact I would have bought Blackwood on earlier to replace the very, very awful Jonny Harkness.    We might have at least kept the ball on the pitch and Blackwood would have been able to find a team mate with a decent pass.

With us looking so lethargic it didn't take the visitors long to test a Scott Bevan just back from injury.    Danny Mayman played a long ball into the box for the diminutive Carlos Roca who then laid it back for Michael Carr to send in a shot that crashed onto the bar with Bevan beaten.

It went back into play but fell to Harkness who then tried to clear it but only succeeded in giving it back to the opposition.

The Vics won a free kick on the edge of the area after Stuart Whitehead had clipped the ankles of Roca as he tried to force himself past him.    The referee booked Whitehead as Michael Byrne stepped up to convert the free kick by curling a shot around the wall and past Bevan who for reasons known only to himself was unsighted behind the wall.

The goal seemed incapable of waking the Harriers from the deep sleep that they had drifted into and that was just the fans.    Christie did get a chance to open our scoring on thirty five minutes but was robbed of the chance by Phil Charnock just as he was about to shoot.

Gavin Hurren saw his weak header fail to worry the Northwich keeper, Senior, and the half stuttered to a close with the majority of the crowd having lost interest along with our heroes.
HT: 0 - 1
As mentioned before the team were sent back out early as a punishment and given a few exercises to go through.    I would have sent them up to the fans and got them to apologise for their pathetic attitude towards us.

They did seem to have taken the punishment on board though and played far better in the second half but without really testing the Vics keeper.    Yates had also swapped Russell and Brady back over but the latter was still failing to impress and it's hard to see what part he plays in any future plans at the club.

We had a ten minute spell midway through the half that we should have done better with when Russ Penn sent in a shot that stung the hands of Senior and then a few minutes later when Gavin Hurren sent a header over the bar.

To counter the threat the Northwich manager replaced Jon Shaw with Kevin Townson and in turn Blackwood was sent on for Brady.    We then saw an incident that, if it we had been given a poor ref, could have seen Christie penalised.

A loose ball in the area was chased up by Christie as Senior went down to collect it.    Christie saw the half chance and went sliding into the keeper leaving him injured.

Christie had a proper chance to score just after when he turned brilliantly in front of goal but his snap shot went just the wrong side of the post with everyone on the verge of erupting in thanks.

After that we went back off the boil and Gary Hay came on to work his magic but he hasn't got any so that was a waste of time.    Like Brady he adds nothing to the side that Brian Smikle could.    Ship them both out.

Northwich bought on a couple more defenders at the expense of frontmen and finished the game with eleven men permanently in our half.    They'd got what they had come for and we went home with nothing.

The one bright note on the day was hearing that Stevenage, our opponents at Wembley and this Tuesday evening, had been hammered at Crawley and had also seen Adam Miller sent off.    I still can't see us getting anything at Broadhall Way on this showing.
FT: 0 - 1

 Goal for Northwich: Byrne 15

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Harriers  subs   cards      Northwich  subs   cards 
Bevan     Senior  
Wilson     Battersby  
Harkness     Roberts  
Hurren     Smart  
Creighton     Shaw  
Whitehead gif   Charnock  
Russell     Mayman  
Penn     Carr  
Christie     Byrne  
Reynolds     Brayson  
Brady     Roca  
SUBS:       SUBS:    
S Taylor     Connett  
Sedgemore     Townson  
Smikle     Dean  
Blackwood     Smith  
Hay     Warburton  

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