Harriers 1 Stevenage Borough 2
away fans: 83
Inconsistency strikes again
The Harriers, with two new players on show to a chilled home crowd, slumped again at home to a very ordinary looking Stevenage side that won the game with their only two shots on target. With the bottom of the table looming ever near we must be dreading next weeks game at a resurgent Gravesend that now sit in third place in the table, making them what must be this seasons surprise team.
The inconsistency of the Harriers is now becoming something of a mystery to all our fans and, even when the front men are playing well, the lapses at the back are worrying. Both of the Hertfordshire sides goals came from defensive errors today and it's these basic mistakes that need to be sorted asap.
The first, from a corner, was played in perfectly for the second tallest man on the park, Oliver, to run in on and send past Bevan when he should have been singled out as the danger man and marked more closely. The second could have been down to a bit of bad luck but Bevan should not have come that far off his line with the penalty area as heavily populated as it was when Boyd had the easy task of lifting the ball over his head from the edge of the area.
On loan James Constable tried hard to get on the scoresheet for us in this half but could not get the ball on target with the three main chances that he had. You found yourself agreeing with the Walsall fans comments when they knew about him coming to Aggborough that he could play all day, have a thousand shots at goal and still not hit the target.
Even though we eventually lost the game there were still some nice touches being played by us. One such move was a cross field succession of passes that ripped the Stevenage defence apart and ended with Gavin Hurren diving full length to meet the final cross from Kenna with a header that went just the wrong side of the post.
Russ Penn also did well to rob Barry Fuller of the ball and go on to send a shot whistling just over the bar. Sadly Fuller got injured as he tried to regain the ball, when Penn jumped over his leg, and after limping around while the Stevenage bench dithered over the substitution, he went off.
Apart from a weak mis-hit shot from Iyseden Christie we did nothing more in the first half and went in for a break hoping that the second half might bring us something a bit more exciting.
HT: 0 - 1
That excitement came soon after the whistle blew for the next forty five minutes when a sublime piece of skill from Christie saw him knock the ball down from a Michael Blackwood cross, collect it with his RIGHT!! foot and whip it into the top of the net, all in one sweet move.
This should have been the signal for us to step up a gear and take the lead with our next move of the game but that never happened and the game became bogged down once more into a midfield battle and no one in a red shirt prepared to shoot on sight.
The level playing field lasted just short of ten minutes before Stevenage grabbed what was to prove the winning goal.
Jeff Kenna gave away a needless free kick on the edge of the area and the ball was played into the area only to be cleared as far as George Boyd. Bevan came out to block him with three defenders better placed to do that and Boyd easily slipped the ball over his head and into the empty goal.
Boyd could have put his side further in front minutes later when a poor header from Mark Creighton was picked up by the Northampton loanee Bradley Johnson to whip back in for an unmarked Boyd. This time the Stevenage star player was not so accurate and his shot went high and wide.
For us the luck was still not there in front of goal and Constable again had a decent shot well saved by Julian and soon after Christie had a chance but his weak shot was never going to trouble anyone.
We lost the ever present Stuart Whitehead midway through the half when he went to ground clutching the back of his leg. What looks like a hamstring injury could see him missing a handful of games in the coming weeks.
With the game drawing to a close in normal time we again had a certain penalty turned down. The ball was played into the area by Christie and even from the other end of the ground we could see an arm go up as the ball struck it but the referee, who until then had had a decent game, waved play on and what was our last good chance to draw level passed us by.
Even with five minutes of injury time added on from who knows where we still couldn't get the ball into the Stevenage area and the game ran out with us back at square one and being dragged down to the relegation zone once more.
It could be said that the soggy conditions underfoot took it's toll on the game with the ball forever sticking to the ground and crosses stopping short of the intended targets. The game did get bogged down at times but I think the biggest influence on a poor first half was the fact that again we played in the wrong direction.
This mis-guided idea, from who knows who, that we have to play away from the home fans in the crucial final minutes of a game when we are desperately looking for an equaliser or a winning goal is a loser all the way. This was proved by the morgue like atmosphere throughout the game from the Harriers fans and we have got to return to tradition for the next home game before it gets any worse.