Harriers 2 Weymouth 3 (aet + pens) FA Trophy 2nd rd replay
away fans: 40
Penalty choker - or penalty joker!
A farcical penalty shoot out at the end of extra time in tonight's FA Trophy replay against Weymouth saw last seasons losing finalists, Kidderminster Harriers, go whimpering out of this seasons effort to return to the Glowing Arch of Wembley Stadium.
On the night a full time score of 2-2 was a fair reflection of a game between two sides equally balanced but it was a shocking mistake from the Harriers captain, Stuart Whitehead, that was to be the first turning point for the home side. The second controversial point('s) was the simply abysmal penalties that our three main strikers contrived to cock up.
It had all started so well too as the Harriers, fielding the same line-up as against Farsley on Saturday, took the game to the visitors and seemed intent on finishing the game off within the normal allotted period of ninety minutes. Instead, against the run of play, Weymouth took the lead in the sixth minute thanks to a poorly taken corner kick that deceived the Harriers defence as it stuttered it's way into the area for the waiting Michael Malcolm to slot home through a ruck of players.
The Reds then slogged their way through the remainder of the half without really getting any kind of grip on the game. When we could get through the solid Weymouth defence we then came up against a keeper, Jason Matthews, on top form and determined to see his side win.
The first sign of Matthews skill came soon after the goal when he tipped over a shot from Simon Russell that looked to be goal bound and then made a string of crucial saves following that. At the other end Scott Bevan had to be on his toes too as, unlike us, Weymouth were prepared to shoot on sight with one good volleyed effort from Stuart Beavon that Scott palmed away in the eighteenth minute.
Five minutes from the end of the first half Gavin Hurren came on for Russ Penn after the battling midfielder got injured. With the seconds now ticking down towards the whistle we came the closest to scoring ourselves when a Mark Creighton strike from the edge of the area was flipped over the bar by the Weymouth keeper.
HT: 0 - 1
We came back out for this half with renewed conviction and took the game straight to Weymouth from the off. Simon Russell had a couple of chances to get something going after leaving his marker for dead to get crosses into the area but a mixture of stout defending from the visitors and just failing to reach the ball from our strikers meant the chances weren't converted.
Four minutes in and we'd pulled the goal back after Joel Kitamarike bought down Iyseden Christie on the edge of the area and got booked for his misdemeanour. After what seemed an eternity of arranging the defensive wall Jeff Kenna fired the free kick around it and into the top corner of the goal.
For the first time in the game we took the upper hand and started to show the fans how we can play when inclined to do so. The only down side to our fast attacking was again the final ball into the area and also the lack of an ability to shoot on sight.
In the sixty fourth minute the game was turned around again and this time it was down to a double defensive error from Michael Blackwood and Stuart Whitehead.
Under no real pressure from anyone Blackwood elected to head the ball back across the area to Whitehead who then turned to also play the ball across his own area. With the Weymouth strikers sniffing blood he had made the fatal schoolboy mistake of not clearing the ball to safety and Malcolm needed no encouragement to take the ball off him and round Bevan to slide the ball home.
In answer to this disaster Yates bought on Justin Richards for Michael McGrath and went with three strikers up front in an effort to get back into the game. It worked almost immediately when this time the mistake came courtesy of Weymouth.
A defensive mix up between Kitamarike and Bondz Ngala allowed James Constable, having another quiet game, to nip in between them and go around Matthews to slot the ball home for the equaliser.
The game was now set up for an explosive final fifteen minutes but somehow both sides contrived to miss easy chances to grab the winner. Constable could have scored a second but wasted the chance by hurriedly shooting wide and Christie had a penalty turned down but he did look to have one eye on the Oscars as he went past his man into the area.
The game went into extra time and strangely Weymouth went defensive. They seemed to already know what we were like with penalties and were prepared to sit back and play the added thirty minutes out.
We had a clear cut penalty shout turned down towards the end of the thirty minutes when Challis clearly handled the ball in the area but, wrongly this time, the referee waved aside our claims and awarded us a corner instead that Christie got on the end of to head the ball just over the visitors cross bar.
With all the time now used up it was left to penalties to sort out who would progress towards the next round and a lucrative tie at Ebbsfleet. The omens weren't good when we lost the flip of the coin to decide at which end the spot kicks would be taken and Weymouth, naturally, opted for firing towards their own fans and also to take the first penalty.
Paolo Vernazza converted his easily enough but in reply Christie sent his flying towards the scoreboard situated above the Weymouth fans. 0-1
James Coutts made it two perfect strikes for the away team and for us James Constable did better than Christie by keeping the ball in the right direction but it was too soft and Matthews dived to save it. 0-2
With the Harriers fans sensing the worst Stuart Douglas converted the third one for his side and we started heading for the exits with just a quick glance over our shoulders to see Justin Richards try a similar effort as Constables with an equally similar result. 0-3 and out!
With our season almost done for - No FA Cup money, no Trophy final to gain revenge for and no real chance of the play-offs - then Yates now needs to look forward and do something about this club. With just a few days left of the transfer window to come he's going to have to bite the bullet and listen to the fans.
We want, and need, a midfield maestro. We want, and need, a proper left back, We want, and need, our existing strikers to shoot on sight and not dither about in front of goal.
What will we get? Constable gone! That is now almost certain because the club will now need the money to survive on falling gates and apathy from the fans for a season, and team, that promised so much and has failed to deliver.
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