Stevenage Borough 2 Harriers 1
Venue: Broadhall Way
away fans: 60
Late rally comes too late
On the way to the game the Harriers manager, Mark Yates, received a phone call from Shrewsbury Town requesting that Luke Jones, on loan to us, could not play in this game tonight and was being re-called to his parent club. This shock move meant that Gavin Hurren was called back into the side in his place, rather than the more appropriate Andy Ferrell, and as luck would have it a mistake from Hurren gifted the play-off hopefuls their first goal of the night.
With the rest of the side un-changed from the previous two games the Harriers were hopeful of getting something from this game but, apart from an early goal in the second half from Iyseden Christie and a late, late rally that saw us hit the post and a couple of scrambles on the line, we never really looked good enough against an equally lethargic Stevenage side.
For the first ten minutes of this game on a rain soaked Broadhall Way it was mediocre fare for both sets of fans. In the eleventh minute Mitchell Cole gave warning of Boroughs intentions when his shot flashed across the face of the goal. Four minutes later they had taken the lead.
The ball was played back to Hurren, stood just in front of the area. With Hurren in a world of his own and all day to do something with the ball Steve Morison suddenly rushed up to him, robbed him of the ball and after drawing Chris MacKenzie out cleanly slipped the ball past him.
Hurren redeemed himself a minute after when he got a head to Gareth Grants cross and cut out a ball that was on it's way to causing more damage to the Harriers.
The Harriers were looking very poor and with Darryl Knights seeing very little of the ball it was making his role just behind the front two pointless.
It should have been Stevenage two goals to the good in the twenty third minute when the impressive Mitchell Cole collected a pass from Morison. His shot came in very quickly and Mackenzie didn't see it until late but managed to stop it but it flew up into the air over his head. Somehow he managed to reach back, flip it up and save it.
MacKenzie came to the Harriers rescue again a minute later when he pushed another great Stevenage chance around the post.
Our first shot on goal came from Matt Barnes-Homer after a cross from Darryl Knights was cleared back to him. His shot, although always going wide, flashed across the face of Alan Julian's goal.
Following that the game got into a bit of a rut for both sides until a cross from Simon Russell allowed Christie in. Julian had the ball covered and was shepherding it out but then Christie came rushing in and barged the Stevenage keeper into the advertising hoardings. Christie could count himself not to have received a yellow card for his stupidity.
The half petered out with Stevenage looking un-likely to score again and the Harriers coming nowhere near it.
HT: 1 - 0
We came out for the second period looking much more up for it and took the game straight to our hosts. It didn't take long to get the goal back.
It was a bit scrappy but who cares - they all count. Dean Bennett played Christie in and he surged between two Stevenage defenders but found himself on the floor after they sandwiched him. With the ball just within reach of his foot he kicked out at it and the ball rolled slowly into the net.
Instead of taking the game in both hands we seemed to be happy to settle for the point although the end of the game was someway off. Stevenage stepped up a gear and immediately replied with a shot from Grant that the Harriers keeper was forced to save down low.
Grant didn't do so well just after when he blazed a shot over the stand and out of the ground.
In the sixty eighth minute of the game the Stevenage manager, Peter Taylor, decided to ring the changes and replaced Sammy Moore with Calum Willock. Just after we could easily have taken the lead when Barnes-Homer, now starting to look part of the team, ran onto a loose ball out on the far side of the pitch. Julian, strangely, decided to race out of his goal to stop the threat and MBH calmly fired towards the empty net. Luckily for Borough Ashley Westwood managed to get back to clear it off the line.
Hurren also cleared a ball off the line soon after when another shot from Grant looked goal bound.
A minute or so later and the Harriers went behind again. It was that man Grant again causing the Harriers defence problems after he out paced Jeff Kenna to send over a cross for Willock. The substitute fired the ball goalwards but it looked to be going wide until it somehow struck Mark Creighton and left MacKenzie wrong footed to find it's way into the net.
Stevenage then took off Mitchell Cole after he had picked up a knock earlier on and at the same time we swapped Darryl Knights for Michael McGrath.
We should have won a penalty just after the change when Simon Russell - our best player on the night - managed to wrong foot a Stevenage defender and send in a fierce shot that struck Lawrie Wilson on the arm and then into the hands of Julian. The referee ignored the Harriers claims for the spot kick.
With time now running down fast the Harriers started to realise that they could get something from the game and began to pile the pressure on the tiring Stevenage defenders. We should have scored when a fantastic strike from Russell left Julian for dead but struck the post and re-bounded back into play.
We could now smell blood and threw everything into attack. With the whistle about to blow and the home side hanging on for their lives we repeatedly fired in shots on goal only to see them bounce off defenders, cleared off the line and then finally cleared away just as the full time whistle blew.
Stevenage climbed to second place on the back of this win and the Harriers stayed in thirteenth place. If we had played in the first half like we had played in the second then we could have taken all three points.
As it was we came away with nothing and have now failed to win a League game on the road since November when we beat Burton Albion.