The Harriers put paid to an abysmal Burton Albion side today in a thrilling two goal win but the day was marred by a senseless sending off for Dean Bennett, on loan from Chester City, following a rash challenge on the half way line. The referee, swayed slightly by the baying Burton crowd, handed Deano a red card and he could now miss the next three games, including Ware, for violent conduct.
This win for the Reds also brings to an end a fourteen game un-beaten run for the home side. A better run than our twelve game un-beaten run from last season.
Mark Yates went with Michael Blackwood in place of Jonny Harkness and also Michael McGrath out wide in place of Blackwood. This had worked well against Vauxhall last week and the fans had been hoping it would be repeated this week. Mark Yates obviously thought so too and ran with it and didn't it work out well.
The only other change to last week was Matt Barnes-Homer dropping to the bench in favour of Dean Bennett.
With the team starting the game in a 4-5-1 formation it was a tentative start for both sides but it didn't take long for us to take control and then stay in charge for the remainder of the game. Burton were desperately poor but it wasn't a case of them making the Harriers look good - we were good.
First out of the blocks for us was Justin Richards who had a shot on goal that took a deflection and ran free to Brian Smikle but, taken by surprise, he could only manage a weak shot at the elderly Kevin Poole in the Albion goal.
The home side replied with a header from former Harriers target, Jake Edwards, but it was well saved by an assured Chris MacKenzie in the Harriers goal.
Everything the Harriers were doing worked right. The passing was spot on and on the ground, the midfield had it all tied up and the defence were as solid as they could ever wish to be. Burton were just not getting a look in.
We could have gone two goals up before the inevitable goal finally did arrive in the nineteenth minute. Both 'goals' were scored by Russ Penn with the first one being struck off for offside and the second one should have been allowed but the referee thought that the fifty/fifty chance for the ball on the edge of the area was actually a foul against their man even though he had tried to barge Russ off the ball.
This didn't put off a rejuvenated Russ though and within minutes he had opened the scoring for a dominant Harriers side.
A Richards header across the box to Brian Smikle was then played on to Penn who turned his marker, Tony James, inside out to shoot across the goal for the ball to nestle in the far corner of the Burton net. As fine a Russ Penn goal as you'll ever see.
The goal spurred Burton into action for a while but good defending kept Gilroy out from putting in any decent crosses and also the fact that Burton couldn't string two passes together didn't help matters. Slowly the Harriers got back on top.
Justin Richards had a shot from the edge of the area well saved and then he managed to get behind the Burton defence to put a great ball across the face of the goal but sadly there wasn't a Harriers man within reach to tuck the ball home.
With time running down to the end of the half came a moment of true Harriers magic. Wideman come temporary defender Michael Blackwood picked up the ball near the halfway line and went on a surging run.
He beat first one man then another and when you thought he wouldn't be able to beat a third Burton defender he did. His mazy run took him all the way to the byeline from where he beat yet another flailing, bewildered defender to put in a pin-point cross for Russ Penn to fire just wide of Kevin Pooles goal.
The half ended with a rousing cheer for the boys in Red while the stunned Burton fans just stood in silence hardly able to raise a cat call between them.