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Harriers 0 Oxford Utd 0

Date: 10-10-06 Venue: Aggborough att: 2264 away fans: 653
Exhilarating game ends all square
This was a game that we had waited three years for.    I can't honestly remember a game that was so exciting and absorbing since we were in the Football League.    It had all the skills and passion that we used to see regularly then when we came up against other sides similar to Oxford Utd.

For three years we have been fed insipid third rate football that has left the average Harriers fan leaving the ground despondent and thoroughly depressed.    Tonight we saw a Harriers side that wanted to win and to do so with skill, passing ability and the ambition to please their long suffering fans - all we needed was some goals.

We also saw Paul Bignot get sent off for a tackle on the irritating Chris Hargreaves that I thought was a touch harsh but it was hard to see from where I was.

It was basically the same side that started against Grays on Saturday with the sole exception of the new loan signing from Doncaster, Craig Nelthorpe, replacing Mike McGrath out wide.    He'll take time to blend in but tonight I was hard pressed to see any difference between McGrath and Nelthorpe.

Right from the very first kick of the ball it was all action from the Harriers but it was Utd that were to get the first sight of goal around five minutes in when a decent cross from Hargreaves was headed just over the bar of Scott Bevans goal from close range by Oxfords leading scorer Robert Duffy.

Andy Burgess was the next one to try his luck for his team but the shot was wayward and missed the target by some way.    Then almost immediately after, Bevan pulled off a stunning save to stop Barry Quinns goal bound header from going in.

We had ridden out the best that Oxford could throw at us and it was now Simon Russells turn to pop a shot in at the ex Rushden keeper, Spilly Billy Turley.    The shot wasn't firm enough though and Turley collected easily.

All the while there were some niggling fouls taking place and the referee was having a field day dishing out cards.    In the space of twenty minutes he had booked Hargreaves for persistent pushing, nudging and generally 'un-sporting conduct', Brevett and Duffy along with Nelthorpe for us.

His decisions were some times mystifying.    What he let go was disappointing and what he stopped the game for on occasions was interrupting the flow of the game.

Hargreaves had another chance to open the scoring with a twenty yard snap shot that whistled into the side netting and on thirty minutes Paul Bignot sent over a cross that was headed over by Reuben Reid.

With the end of the first half drawing near Utd came so close to scoring when Carl Pettefer sent over a cross for Duffy.    His strong header was, in turn, headed away from under the bar by the Harriers powerhouse defender Mark Creighton.
HT: 0 - 0
The second half was not as frenetic as the first period but it was no less exciting for that.    Russ Penn was the first to try his luck with a shot that was looking to be on it's way out wide but took a deflection that put it back on course.    Spilly Billy saved it well though.

The game then settled down to a midfield battle with neither side seeing much in the way of goal mouth action.    Nelthorpe had a shot that Turley just managed to hold on to and Oxford didn't really get in any shots at all in this half.

Mid way through the half came the sending off after Bignot bought down Hargreaves in a tackle on the half way line.    Not in a dangerous position and not really a dangerous looking tackle either but the ref had been wanting to send someone off all night.    In a tactical switch Jake Sedgemore came on for Nelthorpe.

The Oxford fans were calling for another sending off ten minutes later after Russ Penn and Turley collided for a fifty-fifty ball in the area but after quite a while the treatment to both players ended and the ref never even spoke to either of them.

In the dying minutes of the game Oxford put tremendous pressure on Bevans goal but we held out for the draw.    Substitute, Yemi Oudabade should have received a yellow card for a blatant dive in the area but the in consistent ref didn't bat an eyelid.

At the end it was a fair result for two hard working sides that served up a feast of football.

It's not known yet how long Bignot will be suspended for but he'll definitely miss the trip to Aldershot this Saturday.    We could really do with him there if we want to continue this good run.
FT: 0 - 0

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Harriers  subs   cards      Oxford Utd  subs   cards 
Bevan     Turley  
Bignot gif   Anaclet  
Blackwood     Quinn  
Hurren     Hargreaves gif
Creighton     Willmott  
Whitehead     Gilchrist  
Russell     Pettefer  
Penn     Brevett gif
Christie gif   Basham  
Reid     Duffy gif
Nelthorpe gif   Burgess  
SUBS:       SUBS:    
S Taylor     Tardif  
White     Day gif
Sedgemore     Hutchinson  
Reynolds     Dempster  
Smikle     Odubade  

Mr G Lewis

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