Histon 2 Harriers 1
Venue: Glassworld Stadium
away fans: 120
Creighton sent off as the fans get Histon
The Harriers went from bad to worse in this Sunday afternoon pre-season stroll in the early autumnal sun. The travelling Harriers fans had gone in the hope of seeing some kind of improvement on Tuesdays abysmal display against Halifax but it was not to be.
It was thought that we would be able to raise our game for this one against a stereotypical 'village side' but yet again the fans hopes were dashed with a lack of passion throughout the side. Poor defending let the home side in for both goals and should have lead to more if it wasn't for Mark Creighton heroically sacrificing himself to stop the lumbering Dan Wright from scoring a certain goal. He was forced to bring him down on the edge of the area with his fellow defenders watching helpless and incapable from the half way line.
It had all started so well too with another repeat of the starting line-up from the past two games. Dean Bennett got in an early header from a deft Michael Blackwood cross to test the home keeper and then Constable was inches from scoring when his shot was blocked on the line.
It did look promising but something was clearly wrong with the two main men up front. James Constable looked to be carrying an injury, as proved later, and Justin Richards seemed not to care too much about playing and drifted about waiting for the ball to come to him but not put in any meaningful challenges to win the ball for himself.
Once the home side had scored, somewhat too easily, via a cross from Erkan Okay to the far post for Histons leading scorer Cliff Akurang to rifle the ball home we went to pieces.
Only Michael Blackwood seemed interested in making a go of it and by the end of the half he too had seemingly given up.
HT: 1 - 0
With the start of the second period the writing was now definitely on the wall with the non appearance of the Harriers leading scorer James Constable. Obviously the injury, later talk was that it was a hamstring, had been too much for him to carry on and Matt Barnes-Homer stood on the touchline waiting to come on for what would be his longest time on the pitch so far and a chance to prove his worth.
He acquitted himself well but his defensive team mates didn't when within minutes of the start we went down to ten men with the dismissal of Mark Creighton as he covered for his fellow defenders laissez faire attitude.
The well built Wright had come on for Cliff Akurang just two minutes after the break and with us thinking it was a Godsend that the Histon leading scorer would danger us no longer his replacement proved us wrong. You would have thought that our young lads at the back, Jonny Harkness and Paul Bignot, would be able to cope easily with a cart horse of a man but as Wright ran through on the defence splitting pass Creighton tried to rob him of the ball but caught the player too and he crashed all too easily to the ground.
Being the last man Creighton had to go but it should only be a one game ban and he'll miss the home game against Weymouth next Saturday.
The referee wasn't too sure where the offence had taken place and consulted with his linesman before calling across to the Histon man waiting to place the ball on the spot that it was only going to be a free kick. This was dealt with by the Harriers wall and played back up field to safety.
The respite for the Harriers was never going to last long after that and, unlike Halifax midweek after they went down to ten men, we failed to cope with the Histon advantage and soon after gave away the second goal through poor defending again.
This time Wright turned provider and broke past the re-shuffled Harriers defence once more to send in a far post cross for the unmarked Erkan Okay to head back towards the other post for their second goal. They should really have gone on to score more but wayward shooting let them down and our defenders had now woken up to the fact they were shit and decided to do something more constructive with the remainder of the game Chris MacKenzie also performed heroics to keep out the threat from the home side.
Barnes-Homer is trying his best and winning his fair share of chances but is having to do it all by himself. In an effort to rectify this Mark Yates sent on Andy Ferrell mid way through the half for Paul Bignot.
Again Ferrell does the job and you have to wonder why he never seems to start a game anymore with his ability to be everywhere at the same time and his constant harrying of opposing players. Hereford fans called him Mad Dog and you could see why.
In the eightieth minute MBH had the ball in the net but it was ruled out for offside and Histon should have made it 3-0 just minutes later when Antonio Murray missed an open goal when an Adrian Cambridge cross fell just right for the, again, unmarked man but instead of controlling the ball and bringing it down he opted to head over the bar from three yards out.
With the game going into injury time Barnes-Homer finally scored his first goal for the Harriers although it was disputed by the Histon lads. Michael McGrath, on for Dean Bennett a few minutes earlier, found Russ Penn out wide and then ran on for the return ball to send it into the area where Ferrell played it back across the box for Matt to side foot it towards the goal.
Danny Naisbitt, the Histon keeper, went down for it on the line but the referee said that it had crossed the line and awarded the goal.
The goal was scant consolation for what had, in truth, been yet another poor performance from a team that we know, and should, be capable of better than this. Give Histon their due credit for winning the game but we should be able to cope with the kind of long ball game these teams play without having to revert to it ourselves.
Our paceless defenders can't cope with the ball over the top, as shown by Creighton's sending off, and without a useful midfield, until Ferrell comes on, then we also have to revert to long ball.
Without both Creighton and Constable for the next game then changes will need to be forced on to the team. With almost a full week off now is the time for Mark Yates to try something different and start the Weymouth game with both Ferrell and Barnes-Homer.
And give Harkness and Bignot a kick up the back side too.
Help to keep Harriers Online going