Harriers 4 Burton Albion 1
away fans: 460
Harriers take shine off Burtons play-off confirmation
The Harriers took the gloss off Burton Albions play-off campaign tonight when they ran out 4-1 winners in an excellent game - from our point of view. Burton looked a lack lustre side during a first half that saw Darryl Knights grab a duo and Iyseden Christie his eighteenth goal of the season.
In the second half a tactical change by Nigel Clough saw the visitors come back into the game but in the end the result wasn't to matter because the only other team that could replace them, Stevenage, lost at home to Northwich. At the other end of the table it was a short sweet goodbye to Farsley Celtic after they more or less got relegated after just one season leaving Altrincham and Halifax Town to out do each other on the final day.
There were two changes from the side that lost at Weymouth last Saturday. Alex Jeannin was un-well so Andy Ferrell dropped back in his place to allow Darryl Knights to return to the starting line-up. Dean Coleman came back in goal in place of Chris MacKenzie. With Jeff Kenna no longer at Aggborough Paul Bignot kept his place at number three.
The first ten minutes of the game the Harriers looked a bit off the pace and it was Burton who were to pose the most problems at first. Eventually we came back into the game and a fine goal from Darryl Knights opened the proceedings for us.
Matt Barnes-Homer broke down the right hand side of the pitch to send in a speculative cross that the Burton keeper Glynn Poole managed to get to but he collided with his own defender leaving Knights to get his head under the ball and loop it into the net.
A few minutes later and we had silenced the Burton fans by taking a two goal lead when again MBH sent in a cross, a better one this time, and Christie had the easiest of tasks to tap it into the net.
Burton had now lost their earlier momentum and were having a job creating anything at all. Both their star players, Darryl Clare and Keith Gilroy, looked off the pace and when they did get hold of the ball they were coming up against a Harriers defence that was letting very little through.
Their first real chance came via a blatant dive from Clare on the edge of the area following a brush with Simon Russell. After an age sorting the wall out the free kick came to nothing anyway when it came back off the wall twice to finally be cleared away up-field.
The Harriers upped the pressure further after that and could easily have increased the lead on more than one occasion. Christie had two chances to add to his tally when his first shot was well saved by Poole and the next, a few seconds later, was blocked by Aaron Webster on the line.
Three minutes before halftime the Harriers increased the lead to three when Knights scored his second goal of the night.
Russell Penn played in a perfect pass through the area that Christie then stepped over to dummy the Albion defender. It ran through for Knights to crash a low drive beyond the reach of Poole to send us in to the break three nil up against the promotion hopefuls who were now looking at no way back.
HT: 3 - 0
At the start of the second half Clough made a much needed change by taking off the former Harrier, Andy Corbett, in exchange for striker Marc Goodfellow. This enabled them to go to a more attacking 4-3-3.
It seemed to work because the boot was on the other foot now and it was the Harriers who were under the cosh for most of the first thirty minutes of the half. We looked a bit jittery and this was proven when Coleman could only push the ball away from a Darryl Clare shot. It fell for another former Harrier, John McGrath, but he shot wide.
On the hour mark Christie had to leave the field with blood coming from his face after an unseen elbow from Tony James sent him crashing to the floor. The referee immediately sent him off for treatment but amazingly failed to even speak to James about the cause of the injury. Christie never returned to the game and Brian Smikle came on in his place.
Burton also made a change just after with the invisible Clare making way for Matthew Williams.
With the changes Burton went off the boil for a while and it was the Harriers who started to dominate the game once more. Two great chances for MBH to score came his way when he shot from a distance but sent the ball over the bar twice even though there were players better placed to convert the chances.
Burton made another substitution just after but it backfired slightly. Mark Graves had only just come on for Gilroy when, he too, took a bang in the face like Christie and had to leave the field for some stitches only never to re-appear again. Burton played the remainder of the game with just ten men.
It didn't appear to bother them though because they still managed to score although there was more than a hint of offside about it. The ball was played through our slightly flat footed defence for Shaun Harrad to run on to even though another Burton player was stood offside just feet away from him. Harrad couldn't really miss now that he had been given the chance and he volleyed the ball into the back of the net.
The Harriers defence then tightened up for a while so as not to allow them to score again. Michael McGrath came on for a quiet Simon Russell and we seemed happy enough just to play the game out for the final ten minutes. Knights had a good chance to claim his hat trick denied him by Poole although if he had hit the ball more firmly it would probably have gone in.
It wasn't to matter though because with time now running down Gavin Hurren, playing his hundredth game for the Harriers, made all three points a certainty by heading the ball home from a corner.
We were happy because we had done the double over Burton after winning 2-0 there earlier in the season and the Burton fans were happy with the news that Stevenage were losing at home to Northwich and couldn't now make the play-offs.
The game ended with us winning by four goals to one and the players then did a lap of honour around the pitch while the announcer read out the squad names - a nice touch - and thankfully we only have a small squad so it didn't take long.
Just one more game to play now, at Woking next Saturday, and we can then have a bit of a break. Unlike last season when we had a longer season with the FA Trophy to look forward to.
Help to keep Harriers Online going