The Harriers went through to the next stage of the Setanta Shield, and a home draw against old friends Rushden, after beating Hinckley 2-1 but it wasn't without it's drawback though. Stuart Whitehead picked up his second red card of the season, this time for hauling down Utd's Harry Harris on the edge of the penalty area, and will now miss the next two games at FGR on Boxing Day and Oxford Utd next Saturday.
The Harriers manager, Mark Yates, decided to give a game to a handful of fringe players with Matt Barnes-Homer, Jon Munday and Dean Coleman all getting starts along with a welcome return from injury for Jeff Kenna. Scott Bevan and Justin Richards were on the bench and Michael Blackwood, Andy Ferrell and Mark Creighton all went Christmas shopping at Merry Hill.
Hinckley, sitting near the foot of the Blue Square North table, are usually pre-season opponents of ours and this was the first time we had played each other in anger for twenty years. The last time being a FA Cup qualifying game back in 1986 that we won 1-0.
After a tentative opening period it was the Harriers that got in the first real chance of scoring when a Jonny Harkness free kick was back heeled by Matt Barnes-Homer to Simon Russell. His shot was then blocked by Jamie Lenton but Jon Munday was well placed for the follow up and fired in a strong shot that the Utd keeper, Sean Bowles, pushed out of play.
Dean Coleman, getting his first game since Droylsden in mid September, saved the Harriers blushes soon after when he dived at the feet of the former Worcester City striker Leon Kelly and foiled his chance of scoring.
There was a moment of panic soon after when a mix up between Coleman and Munday ended up with Coleman having to rush out of his area to stop Kelly from getting a shot in but eventually Munday managed to clear the ball away.
Eventually the first goal came and James Constable celebrated his enforced return to the side with a simple tap in after Barnes-Homer had sent over a cross that Bowles flapped at and missed. Beano almost added a second goal soon after when he turned and shot, following Brian Smikle's cross, but Hinckley's Richard Lavery put himself in front of the goalbound effort to stop it from going in.
In the thirty fourth minute Hinckley pulled a goal back. We had came close to scoring again when Simon Russell had powered in a thunderous shot that was pushed onto the post by Bowles, then rolled across the area to be hit back in by Jon Munday. Bowles got to the ball this time and then kicked it upfield for Owen Story to run onto. Jonny Harkness got to the ball first but then poor control let the ball run on for Story to slot it into the net from fifteen yards out.
Hinckley then found a new spirit and started to get on top. Their best chance of taking the lead came when Kyle Storer picked out Jamie Lenton on the left of the penalty area, but Stuart Whitehead got in quickly to block the danger and end the half all square.