Harriers 1 Aldershot Town 2
away fans: 413
Harriers shot down on opening day
The Harriers lost their opening day fixture for the second year in a row today when the visitors, Aldershot Town, went home with all three points after going into the lead just after half-time with a sucker punch of a goal from Scott Davies. A second goal ten minutes later from the big number nine, John Grant, put paid to the Harriers hopes of getting anything from the game. A consolation goal from Mark Creighton fifteen minutes from the end was as good as it got.
It had all started off promisingly too, even allowing for the funereal monotone of the PA man, with the Harriers looking the more likely to score in the first half.
After the obligatory opening day nerves it was the Harriers who should really have taken a deserved lead in the eighth minute. James Constable, widely tipped to be this seasons leading scorer, couldn't believe his luck when he was handed a gilt edged chance following a poor backpass to the Shots keeper, Nicky Bull. Beano pounced on it, quick as a flash, went around the keeper and then somehow shot into the side netting.
In his favour he did look to be slightly off balance but it's still a chance that he knows he should have buried.
For the visitors they hardly had a sniff of goal with a strong defence of Jeff Kenna and Paul Bignot keeping the Shots front men well shackled. Rhys Day and Scott Davies both went close for Aldershot with chances from free kicks but they were meat and drink to Scott Bevan.
The one that was catching the eye was the one that shouldn't be. Yes, the Conference refs are still with us and this Mr Coote was a right old bird with incessant whistling and mystifying decisions. Luckily for us it was mostly in our favour with the bookings Hampshire bound although Constable did find himself booked for complaining about being clattered in the Aldershot area and not being given a penalty.
We had one more chance to score before the kettle boiled for the half-time cuppa when Michael Blackwood could only hold his head in despair after his pile driver cannoned back off the underside of the bar.
HT: 0 - 0
What went wrong? memories of Wembley came flooding back as right from the re-start Aldershot took an un-expected lead. With the home side still tidying their shorts around their waists, and tugging on the top of their socks, Aldershot kicked off without warning us and Scott Davies waltzed through the static Harriers defence to send a hard hit shot past the equally static Scott Bevan.
The Shots went on to score again a little over ten minutes later when Bignot made an error to allow Rob Elvins in to shoot from just outside the area. Bevan got his fingers to it but not enough to stop it falling just right for John Grant to bundle the ball home from close range.
As against Stevenage we had under estimated the opposition in relation to changing their tactics after an half-time pep talk. We expected them to carry on as before but, as we found out in a far more important game, that just ain't so.
Aldershot were piling on the pressure now and we hadn't really got a clue how to stop them.
Time for a change and first Constable went off in exchange for Iyseden Christie. Not the biggest brainwave ever when we were crying out for someone in midfield to take control of the game again. Have we really got anyone though.
A couple of minutes later Michael McGrath came on for Andy Ferrell. Was he the midfield supremo we were looking for? not on your Nelly. Soon after came a third substitution as the Harriers Online main man, Matt Barnes Homer, came on for Michael Blackwood and then things started to happen.
We again began to look stronger than Aldershot and that strength paid off with the consolation goal from the big guy, Mark Creighton, when he forced himself over everyone else to meet Jeff Kennas corner and send a powerful header into the top right corner of the Shots net.
We piled on the pressure after that but with time running down we just couldn't get past a resolute Aldershot defence.
Let's not take this win away from the visitors. They work hard for each other, they're strong at the back and have potential up front.
They'll be around the top come the end of the season but also judging by some of our play we shouldn't be too far away either. All we need is a midfield general.