Gavin Hurren found himself back in the dressing room earlier than expected tonight when he was sent off for what the referee perceived as a professional foul but to many looked a clumsy fifty/fifty challenge. He had come on in the 79th minute to replace Russell Penn and ten minutes later he was dismissed for the first time in his career.
In what was never a dirty game the idiot in the black dished out three other bookings to the Harriers for dubious reasons and gave decisions that at times baffled. His assistant on the right was also equally guilty of ignoring obvious offsides by the one Droylsden player that stood out, the creative Chris Denham.
In goal for the Reds was Dean Coleman for the second game running after Scott Bevan was again ruled out through injury. Stuart Whitehead was back to add much needed stability in midfield and on the bench was Simon Russell awaiting his chance after being out since pre-season with, the soon to be fashionable, IT Band injury.
After a short period of hoofball we settled down to pass the ball around and cut through the Bloods defence with ease - it was just the final ball that was letting us down again. In the first thirty minutes we only tested the keeper once and then he saved easily from Justin Richards soft header.
The wake-up call came just before the thirty when the tubby little Jody Banim fired in a shot that looked to be going in but rebounded off the junction of crossbar and upright. Seconds later came the repeat alarm when Gavin Salmon sent a shot just over the bar but three minutes later we had taken the lead with a superb goal from Jonny Harkness.
Michael Blackwood sent over a cross that landed perfectly for Richards but the big lad hesitated over his shot and when he did finally find the right foot to kick with the keeper was ready and pushed the ball away. A little luckily he had inadvertently set up Harkness with the chance to send a curling shot into the net from outside the area, giving Phillips no chance of stopping.
To their credit Droylsden didn't give up and came back at us with a reply ten minutes later. The dangerous Denham saw his chance to score but could only hit the post for Banim to tidy up and send his shot into the roof of the net.
With the halftime whistle fast approaching came the first moment of controversy that showed Mr Hooper up for the out of his depth novice that he is.
Jonny Harkness slipped the ball to James Constable just inside the area and the Harriers striker turned to make his run but two defenders converged on him and fell down on the ball. As James tried to get at the ball between their bodies the ref ran over just as the keeper fell down with no-one near him and the ref handed James a yellow card for trying to get a ball that was being unfairly smothered by the defenders.
Maybe he should have just waited for them to stop rolling around theatrically first because that's just what the cheating keeper was doing in an attempt to get Beano sent off. The keeper deserved all he got in the way of catcalls and jeers from the Harriers supporters.