Burton Albion 3 Harriers 2 Setanta Shield 3rd rd
Venue: The Pirelli Stadium
away fans: 60
Quick exit in the Setanta Shield
The Harriers went out of the Setanta Shield at the first hurdle tonight at Burton Albion but I don't think we'll be losing too much sleep over the defeat. It means a loss of £3,500 in prize money but the rewards are greater this coming Saturday when we entertain Cambridge Utd in the FA Cup 1st round where there is £20,000 at stake and the chance of even more if we get through to play a money spinning game in the next round.
Tonight Mark Yates elected to go with a team comprised of all the fringe players and a smattering of regulars. On the bench alongside Justin Richards and Matty Barnes-Homer was a young lad promoted from the youth team, Nathan Hayward. One night playing at Lye Town's cows field the next at Burtons.
The game kicked off with all the running being done by the home side and it wasn't long before they opened the scoring through Shaun Harrad. He wasn't marked too well at a corner and his free header gave the Burton Boys the start they wanted.
The balance of the game changed soon after the goal with a moment of controversy when the Albion keeper, Saul Deeney, bought down Stefan Moore on the edge of the box after racing out of goal to stop Moore advancing on an empty net. Incredibly the referee ignored the fact that it was a goal scoring opportunity denied and simply gave Deeney a yellow card.
Following that travesty of justice the Harriers seemed to take impetus from it and controlled the remainder of the half.
Our reward came on twenty five minutes when David McDermott got us back on level terms in a bizarre manner. His shot hit the former Hereford defender Tony James and then re-bounded back to the Harriers player from where it re-bounded once more and over the keeper into the net.
We went into the lead just two minutes before half time when Darryl Knights got past the Burton offside trap to take the ball around the keeper - who didn't bring him down this time but would have got away with it anyway - and slid the ball into the empty net to make this glorious trophy even more worthwhile winning.
HT: 1 - 2
The second half didn't go the way we planned and within five minutes of the re-start Burton had pulled the goal back. Another corner, and again more poor defending, landed on the head of Aaron Webster and then on for Ryan Austin who managed to bundle the ball over the line.
We tried to get back into the game through chances falling the way of Andy Ferrell and Keith Lowe who managed to head wide from Martin Brittain's excellent cross. Seconds after Darryl Knights sent a long range shot just over the bar.
The second card of the night was handed out to Webster after he clumsily bought down McDermott in the centre of the pitch.
Nigel Clough, the Burton manager, started to change his side around a bit with the replacement of Paris Simmons for Lee Morris and then started to turn the screw on the Harriers. The former Harriers loan player Matthew Bailey had a shot blocked by Dean Coleman, playing his first game of the season, and then from the resulting corner Keith Lowe cleared the ball off the line to keep the Harriers in with a chance.
Burton bring another former Harrier as John McGrath replaces Tony James.
We aren't out of it yet though and Stefan Moore completes a great run into the area with a shot that Deeney only just managed to push away and then we make our first change of the night when MBH comes on for Brittain and then soon after Michael Bowler is exchanged for Russ Penn.
It was from a free kick given away by Penn that allowed Burton to grab the winning goal. The former Droylsden striker Jody Banim took the kick and curled the ball over the defence and also over Coleman for their third goal of the night and the goal that sees them through to the next round of the Shield.
With the time now running out all that was left for the Harriers was to give Nathan Hayward his big chance on the big stage with Andy Ferrell making way for him.
Matt Barnes-Homer had one last chance for us when he forced Deeney into a half decent save but it was all over and we can now look forward to the big game against Cambridge on Saturday. We won't miss not being able to take any part in this trophy once we get past Utd and draw Leeds Utd or Leicester City.