The Harriers are facing a £1000 fine from the FA after having eight players booked in tonight's away victory at Stevenage. A victory made all the more sweeter because we'll now be meeting them at Wembley with the psychological advantage of knowing that we have already beaten them recently.
How the London based referee, in charge of a game being played on the outskirts of London, found it possible to book so many of our players yet not one of theirs beggars belief. Even though our second goal came from a penalty no yellow card was shown to the offender the reason why a mystery known only to himself.
As it is Russ Penn now finds himself on fourteen yellow cards for the season and needs just one more to face a another period of suspension of three games. Hopefully he'll get booked on or before the Rushden game in two weeks time to ensure that he will be playing at Wembley. If the fifteenth booking comes after that game then there is a strong possibility of him missing out - something that we do not want or need.
Mark Yates made a number of changes to the side to play at Broadhall Way tonight. Gavin Hurren dropped to the bench to make way for Jake Sedgemore, Jon Brady made way for Michael Blackwood and Luke Reynolds was replaced by Glenn Wilson as the manager decided to go with Iyseden Christie alone up front with Penn in a supporting role just behind him.
The first chance of the night fell to Boro's Ronnie Henry after Scott Bevan, in goal for the Harriers, punched his twenty five yard shot away for a corner. The corner, taken by Steve Guppy, was cleared away to safety.
The first attempt on goal for us came just a minute later after Michael Blackwood hit a shot from the same distance but with more power. This time the Stevenage keeper, Alan Julian, saved well.
With just under twelve minutes gone came the first in a stream of illogical bookings when Jonny Harkness appeared to slip over and fell against a Stevenage player. Amazingly the referee got his yellow card out straight away and waved it in the Harriers defenders face.
Stevenage were now starting to pile on a small amount of pressure on the Harriers and Jon Nurse saw his shot from the edge of the penalty area tipped over the bar by Bevan. From the resulting corner a goalmouth scramble led to the ball being cleared by Mark Creighton only to see it fall for Nurse to send in a similar effort to the one a minute earlier.
On fifteen minutes Iyseden Christie had his first chance of the game when his header from twelve yards out looped over the Borough crossbar. Christie hasn't scored since we beat Exeter City in the FA Trophy in January and would be hoping to break his duck soon.
On twenty one minutes came the goal we had been waiting for when a foul on Creighton by Nurse was taken by Harkness and played long to the Harriers front row. The ball eventually found it's way to Russ Penn who shot low from the left side of the goal to put the Harriers into the driving seat.
Another period of strong Stevenage pressure followed but the Harriers defence held firm until we were suddenly given the chance to increase our lead.
Mark Hughes took the legs from under Simon Russell as he turned away from goal and the ref had no hesitation in pointing to the spot, but not booking the Stevenage player for his foul. Christie stepped up to take it and, following his last penalty take when he missed against Oxford, there was an air of expectancy about how this one would turn out. There were to be no worries though as Issey power blasted it into the centre of goal with Julian going the wrong way to break his goal famine.
Russ Penn picked up his fourteenth booking of the season on thirty six minutes after supposedly fouling John Nutter but the player in question didn't appear to have been fouled, didn't fall over and didn't even notice that he had been fouled. It was all a figment of the refs vivid imagination.
Penn did foul a Stevenage player just two minutes later and the referee didn't even raise an eyebrow.
Nurse was to have the last chance of a goal during this half when his header from only six yards out went well wide of Bevans goal.