Harriers 1 Cambridge Utd 0 FA Cup 1st rd
away fans: 300
Rip roaring Harriers squeeeze through
The Harriers eventually made it into the hat for the next round of the FA Cup despite a stern test from an impressive Cambridge side that matched us all the way. With just a solitary converted penalty to rely on we were, at times, being put to the sword by a United side that wanted this win just as much as we did.
It was thanks to a match winning performance from Adam Bartlett that saw us through and we can only hope for an easier game in the next round.
The only two things to mar the day was the apparent attitude of Russ Penn after he was taken off by Mark Yates for his own safety from an official that had got it in for him and for that official himself who hadn't noticed that the yellow stripes on his shirt had gone missing.
Penn had already been booked for catching the ankle of Paul Carden as he ran with the ball and then got a talking to after a rash challenge on another Cambridge player. With his card obviously marked he was doing himself no favours with a further rash challenge so Yates sent on Dean Bennett and called Russ off. Russ pushed Yates away and then went down the tunnel in anger.
Truth was Yates had no choice but to bring him off. It was either that or see him sent off and down to ten men before the half was out.
As it was a well taken penalty from Justin Richards was enough to see us through after he was bought down by the former Harriers favourite Wayne Hatswell. Richards had collected the ball from a forward pass from Martin Brittain and advanced into the area at high speed only to get bundled over as he sped past Hatswell. He took the penalty himself and sent Danny Potter the wrong way.
We continued to dominate the first period with chances going begging through some poor finishing and stout defending from the Utd back line. Martin Riley went close with a header just over the bar, Richards had a shot that was well saved by Potter and we should have had another penalty shortly after when Richards was yet again bought down, this time by the keeper, but the incorrectly dressed ref booked Richards for supposedly diving instead.
In the dying seconds of the half Keith Lowe got his head to a Brittain corner but it went just wide.
HT: 1 - 0
Cambridge came out for the second half all fired up and for most of the first fifteen minutes the Harriers goal was under assault. We did get a chance when Richards and Brian Smikle combined but Juniors effort was far too weak to trouble Potter.
Gary Brabin, the Cambridge manager, decided that he had seen enough and bought on Felimo Jardim in place of Rob Willmott. The little Dutchman looked too small to be of any danger but dangerous he was. With his first touch the Harriers fans almost had a heart attack when his thunderbolt shot from twenty five yards out struck the crossbar then down to the upright and back out again.
Phil Bolland had a header tipped over by Bartlett and he then saved well from Mark Beesley's shot - he had come on in place of Danny Crow - only to have to make another great save from the same player minutes later. How he got to Beesley's point blank shot we'll never know and neither will the Cambridge fans who were starting to realise that they were never going to beat the Harriers at Aggborough.
We were still trying to gain the safety of a second goal and that almost came from an unlikely source when Andy Ferrell saw his chance to have a pop on goal from the edge of the area but his shot went narrowly over the bar.
The two substitutes were still creating danger for us with Jardim sending in a volley that Barts kept out and then Beesley stormed into the area and looked almost certain to score until our England C keeper threw himself in front of him to smother his shot.
With just ten minutes remaining we looked to be on the racks and tiring. Brittain, Barnes-Homer and Smikle seemed to be out on their feet but MBH still had a chance to put the winning ball away only to see it once more go over the bar.
Yates sent on Stefan Moore in the dying minutes to try and run the game down and eventually it did. We had managed to hold out in one of the best games seen at Aggborough in a long, long time and that was due to two well matched teams with the hunger to win.
We now go into tomorrows draw and whoever we get will not be looking forward to meeting us.