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Harriers 1 Forest Green 0

Date: 01-01-08 Venue: Aggborough att: 1852 away fans: 194
Forest Green beaten at last
It took a dodgy goal for the Harriers to beat Forest Green Rovers in this return game today.  We played at The Lawns on Boxing Day and came back with a hard earned 2-2 draw but today's game was totally different with the Reds looking jaded and lacking in creative ideas to really convince the floating fan that this was a side looking to reach the play offs this season.

We had just the one change to the starting line-up at Forest Green with Iyseden Christie dropping to the bench to allow Justin Richards to start.  Also on there was Jeff Kenna, who played at Oxford on Saturday but went back to the bench for this one, and Stuart Whitehead coming back from his two game suspension.

For the first twenty minutes of the game the home side just didn't get a look in.  Forest Green were doing most of the running but without getting a clear cut chance on goal themselves.  The one good point was that we were limiting Forest Green to long balls over the top to their leading scorer, Stuart Fleetwood, and his failure to get on the end of these, thanks to a solid Mark Creighton, must have been putting off the scouts in attendance.

It wasn't just Fleetwood not seeing much of the ball, our own leading scorer James Constable wasn't getting much luck either.

The visitors had the first shot on target in the fourteenth minute when Mark Beesley, also being watched by other clubs, managed to hit the post.  Soon after we picked up our first booking of the game when Andy Ferrell went into the petty referee's book for a run of the mill tackle on Paul Stonehouse.  This adds to his fifth booking picked up in the Boxing Day game for which he'll miss the trip to York City next week.

It took until half a hour into the game before we had our first real sight of goal when Michael McGrath sent a shot flying across the face of the goal but not quite close enough to go in.  It took another fifteen minutes for the same player to get the next chance for the Harriers when the ball was played on for him following a back header from Constable.  His strong shot could only be pushed away by Ryan Robinson and the loose ball came to nothing.

The half drew to a close after watching one of the most tedious displays from two sides in ages.  Not exactly festive fun from two sides determined to cancel each other out.
HT: 0 - 0
It could have all been different in the second period when we went so close to opening the score within the first five minutes.  Justin Richards was given the ball on the edge of the area and, with his back to goal, turned and lifted a shot towards goal that Robinson only just managed to get his fingers to.  Slightly more power would have seen it in the back of the net.

FGR responded five minutes later with an excellent shot from Stonehouse that thundered off the base of the upright with Bevan beaten.

Two minutes after that let off we had gone into the lead.

McGrath supplied Justin Richards with the ball on the edge of the area for the big number nine to beat his marker and send in a beautiful cross to the far post where Simon Russell headed it downwards towards goal.  With the ball looking to be heading just the wrong side of the post it took a deflection off a defender and went into the net.

Goal video here

As usual we then sat back content with our lead and let Forest Green come at us.  Their management made a number of substitutions to combat being a goal down with Daniel Carey-Bertram and Mark Preece coming on to give their attack more bite.

It certainly worked because for the final twenty minutes of the game they were all over us.  One shot came in from Carey-Bertram that went just over the bar but the biggest miss of the day went to the Forest Green golden egg, Fleetwood, when he missed an open goal just six yards from the target but by then most of the scouts had probably left the ground disappointed.

For us it was a win to round off the festive package but it was a far from convincing win and we'll have to perform a miracle at in form York City next week when we go there with four first team regulars missing through suspension.
FT: 1 - 0

 Goal for Harriers: Russell 57

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Harriers  subs   cards      Forest Green  subs   cards 
Bevan     Robinson  
Bignot     Lawless  
Blackwood     Tonkin  
Hurren     Jones  
Creighton     Stonehouse  
Ferrell gif   Pitman  
Russell     Beesley  
Constable     Clist  
Richards     Fleetwood  
Penn gif   Brough gif
McGrath     Hardiker  
SUBS:       SUBS:    
Coleman     Burton  
Kenna     Preece  
Barnes-Homer     Afful  
Christie     Rigoglioso  
Smikle     Carey-Bertram  

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