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Harriers 1 Cambridge Utd 3

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Date: 17-02-09gif Venue: Aggboroughgif att: 1361gif away fans: 161
Cambridge draw the curtains on the play-offs
Yet another poor display saw the Harriers slump to their third defeat in a week and possibly start to drift out of the reckoning for the play-offs.  This 3-1 home defeat to a sharp looking Cambridge showed us how far away from actually looking any good we really are and that we are not capable of improvement on what we are now.

Once again our forward line looked lethargic and it wasn't until ten minutes from the end that I noticed that Justin Richards was on the pitch.  I didn't see a midfield either come to that.

The only two changes from the side that failed so miserably at home to Northwich on Sunday were Dean Bennett and Brian Smikle returning to the starting eleven at the expense of Darryl Knights and Michael Carr.  If we were hoping for wholesale changes to the side then we didn't get it, just a tinkering and replacing un-inspiring like with like.

The game started scrappily for both sides as they found their feet but it wasn't long before Utd claimed the advantage albeit from an extremely dodgy penalty.  It started with a mistake from Adam Bartlett when he kicked a clearance straight at Scott Rendell.  The Cambridge striker managed to gain control of the ball with Keith Lowe attempting to intervene at the same time.  Lowe only touched Rendell slightly and the forward made a meal of it and fell into the box.

Cambridge were on top now and pressurised our back four continuously by exposing our lack of pace and our lack of ability in passing the ball to one of our own players.  In the end it was left to Lowe and Armstrong to just boot the ball away to safety every time a Cambridge player came near them.

On the stroke of the half hour Utd went two up.

Jai Reason played the ball through to dangerman Rendell who then forced Bartlett to parry the ball away into the path of Chris Holroyd.  With his back slightly to goal Holroyd hooked the ball over his shoulder and into the net.

The Harriers looked a despondent bunch now but the home fans were still trying to gee them up to better things. It didn't seem to work at first and we continued to lose out in midfield and our lone striker, MBH, was getting no-where.

And that's where our solitary goal came from.  No where!

Brian Smikle got hold of the ball and, forgetting all his coaching, ran with the ball before releasing it to Andy Ferrell who in turn actually passed it to his own team mate.  MBH easily slotted the ball past the stationary Danny Potter.

For the remainder of the half we started to play with a bit of long overdue self belief and Utd found themselves on the back foot.  We were now playing as a team and it was Martin Brittain doing most of the inspirational stuff around the box.  It was looking better for the second half.
HT: 1 - 2
That purple patch towards the end of the first half was not carried on into the second period and Utd, once more, took charge of the game.

It took only two minutes for Rendell to get in a shot on goal with Bartlett once more coming to the Harriers rescue with another fine save.  That was just the first warning of a third goal for the visitors and the second warning came soon after when again Holroyd had another chance to score with a shot that went just over the bar.  He didn't spurn the third warning though and this time he made no mistake latching onto Reason's pass and heading the ball beyond Bartlett at the far post.

With the Reds now 3-1 down it should have been the ideal time to make some substitutions but it took a further ten minutes before a change came.  Brittain and Smikle left the field and on came David McDermott and Darryl Knights.  Knights first move was to take a free kick on the edge of the box but it was poorly taken and wasted.

Strangely another change was made no more than two minutes later when the very disappointing Craig Armstrong came off for Lee Baker.  A like for like move that had no rhyme or reason.

Cambridge seemed happy to sit back and soak up what little the Harriers had to offer and even came close to adding a fourth goal when Rendell fired in a shot that Barts tipped over superbly.

Now was the time for us to pile some kind of pressure on but, as with Northwich on Sunday, we had neither the skill or the interest to do so and the game ended with the fifty year old un-beaten at Aggborough record smashed to smithereens.  Cambridge were worthy winners by the end and showed us just why we are no where near ready for the play-offs yet and not likely to be this season anyway.
FT: 1 - 3

 Goal for Harriers: Barnes-Homer 38
 Goals for Cambridge: Rendell 20 (pen), Holroyd 30, 56


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gif No. 'Fraid not
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Harriers  subs   cards      Cambridge Utd  subs   cards 
Bartlett     Potter  
Lowe     Gleeson  
Armstrong gif     Tonkin  
Ferrell     McMahon  
Creighton     Bolland  
Jones     Hatswell  
Brittain gif     Beesley gif  
Smikle gif     Reason  
Barnes-Homer     Rendell  
Bennett     Carden  
Richards     Holroyd  
SUBS:       SUBS:    
Knights gif     Challinor gif  
Moore     Pitt  
Baker gif     Coulson  
McDermott gif     McAuley  
Carr     Willmott  

REFEREE:
Mr R Fletcher
Derbyshire




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