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Harriers 3 Vauxhall Motors 1    (FA Cup 4th qual' rd)



Date: 27-10-07 Venue: Aggborough att: 1121 away fans: 53
Harriers reward is where? Ware
The Harriers progressed to the next round of the FA Cup today after eventually seeing off a strong challenge from visitors Vauxhall Motors.    Second half goals from Matt Barnes-Homer, Justin Richards and 2nd half substitute Michael McGrath gave us the right for a long trip to Hertfordshire to play Ware FC in the 1st rd proper.

That game will be in just two weeks time with a tough game at Burton Albion in between and we're going to have to start showing an improvement on today's game if we want three points at Burton and a chance to go into the draw for the following round of the Cup.

Missing one of the bigger clubs away - Leeds, Forest, Bradford or Millwall - in the next round was not what the clubs board wanted moneywise but at least we do have a good chance of going further by playing a side three divisions below us.

For today's game against Vauxhall we had a few changes to the side that lost against Weymouth last Saturday with probably the biggest surprise being the total exclusion of Iyseden Christie from the side.    He came on as a late sub in last weeks game and seemed to be clear of injury but obviously he either wasn't or he has picked up yet another injury during the week.

Into the side came Brian Smikle in place of Dean Bennett, who was on the bench, and Mark Creighton back from his one game suspension.    Jon Munday went to the bench to make way for the big man.

Following the first rain for a while during the night the pitch looked to be a bit slippy.    The visitors keeper, Lake, fell over twice and Michael Blackwood also had a problem keeping on his feet but eventually the pitch improved and became more sure underfoot.

It still led to an awful first half for us with countless missed chances to take the lead.    Most of this was down to yet more hesitation in front of goal and it took until the twenty second minute before we had a meaningful shot on goal.

That came from the head of Mark Creighton when he got the highest to meet a corner to send a header thudding goalwards only for Sean Lake to pull out a great save to tip the ball against his upright.

Soon after that close effort came a moment of sheer comedy when we were awarded a throw-in on the right and Justin Richards took it by throwing it to Jonny Harkness.    Harkness, thinking he had been given the ball to throw in then caught it and the referee - poor by the way - gave a free kick against us.

Vauxhall were looking dangerous and were exposing our slow backline throughout.    Dave Roberts was the dangerman for them and he managed to get his first attempt on goal midway through the half when he bought a good save out of Chris MacKenzie and then went and scored a few minutes later.

Paul Bignot gave the ball away on the halfway line and the striker raced down the left wing to slot the ball under and past MacKenzie.

We should really have pulled that goal back almost from the re-start when Barnes-Homer in turn broke free of the visitors defence to send in a shot from the edge of the area that Lake made another great save from.    With time running down to the break Russ Penn got the ball into the net but it was ruled out following a push by Justin Richards on a Motor man.

The half ended with some un-warranted booing from the home fans for what they thought was a poor display but in my mind we had tried to score but probably tried too hard.
HT: 0 - 1
Michael McGrath came on in place of Jonny Harkness at the start of the new period of play and immediately our approach to the game had changed.    Blackwood slipped back into the left back position and we looked far more solid down that side of the pitch.

Paul Bignot also improved in this half following a miserable first half and it was him that supplied a great cross for M B-H to power home a brilliant equaliser for the Harriers.    Richards could have put us into the lead five minutes later but his volley went just over the bar with the keeper well beaten.

Michael Blackwood was the next to go close when he forced Lake into punching a shot away in the sixtieth minute.

The chances were going in thick and fast now and Vauxhall began to tire.    Their management team started to bring on subs to keep them in the game but it was down to a player that had been on the pitch from the start to save them from going behind when Robert Marsh-Evans cleared Brian Smikle's goal bound shot off the line.

To the relief of the long suffering Harriers fans the second goal finally arrived after seventy five minutes.    McGrath came down the left side of the pitch and delivered a brilliant cross for Blackwood to flick on with his head towards Richards who then had the easiest of chances to head beyond the keeper.

McGrath got his reward for a game changing performance soon after when, after sending one good shot just over the bar, he then grabbed his first goal for the Harriers at this level.    Richards and Barnes-Homer combined well to play the ball across the edge of the area towards McGrath who then made no mistake in slotting home the winning goal.

It could have been a 4-1 win for us if Brian Smikles goal had been allowed a minute from the end but the linesman spotted Richards fractionally offside and so the goal did not count.

In the end it was a good result against a side that were prepared to make a go of it.    We go into the next round of the cup and if we get past a tripwire of unknown Ware we could be looking at the pay day the clubs board want and need by a visit to the likes of Wolves or West Brom.
FT: 3 - 1

 Goals for Harriers: Barnes-Homer 51, Richards 75, McGrath 86
 Goal for Vauxhall: Roberts 31


The Harriers Online MotM is:

Michael McGrath
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Latest table and stats here  

Harriers  subs   cards      Vauxhall Motors  subs   cards 
MacKenzie     Lake  
Bignot     Hitchen  
Harkness     Marsh-Evans gif
Ferrell     Field  
Creighton     Kelly  
Whitehead     Hotte  
Smikle     Garrity gif
Barnes-Homer     Heler gif
Richards     Roberts  
Penn     Johnson  
Blackwood     Taylor  
SUBS:       SUBS:    
Coleman     Smith  
Bennett     Wright  
Munday     Dames  
McGrath     Wignall  
Hurren     Clarke  

REFEREE:
Mr R Merchant
Staffordshire




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