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Harriers 2 Grays Athletic 0

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Date: 01-11-08gif Venue: Aggboroughgif att: 1400gif away fans: 33
Harriers cheer up a Gray day
The Harriers climbed just the one place in the table following this easy victory against struggling Grays Athletic but that one place was enough to take them within two points of Kettering following their home defeat against Weymouth.  Cambridge's failure to get anything more than a scoreless draw at home to Rushden also helped the Harriers cause no end.

A brace of goals from Justin Richards and Matthew Barnes-Homer gained us the points and also a debut for Martin Riley helped to keep things tight at the back.  Riley was in the side due to the three game ban for Luke Jones following his sending off at Kings Lynn last Saturday.

Grays came to Aggborough without an away win all season.  Along with struggling near the bottom, poor crowds and a 50% pay cut for players they seem to be a club heading for a lower league.

They bought in two players on Friday, both non contract, but of the two only Scott Forrester played and Jamie Slabber was no where to be seen.

In freezing conditions the game kicked off with the Harriers going all out to grab an early lead.  A free kick, on the edge of the area, was well struck by Martin Brittain and went only inches wide of the post and into the side netting.

Justin Richards followed up with two near misses when he should really have done better.  The first when Brian Smikle and Matthew Barnes-Homer combined to set him up but he could only drag his shot wide and then he headed the ball over from a Brittain corner.

Russ Penn then collected Barnes-Homers pass and was about to fire a ball in but slipped at the crucial moment.  He tried to find another Harriers player as he lay on the ground but when he did it was too late and the resulting cross from Brittain failed to find a target.

Grays were showing glimpses of their style of play from former years with some neat passing but luckily for us there was no end product and the only player showing any sign of wanting to score was Forrester.  He had a chance twenty minutes in but his shot went well wide of the target.

The game went quiet for a while and we changed things round slightly with Brittain going to the right side of the pitch instead of playing too far inside.

Brian Smikle fluffed a chance to score when he hesitated after being given the ball by Russ Penn.  Left with just the keeper, David Button, to beat he seemed to be unsure of which foot to strike the ball with and when he finally managed to shoot the keeper was ready and smothered the ball easily.

Mark Creighton was the next to try and break the deadlock when we were awarded a corner but his header, from Brittains kick, was tipped over the bar by Button.

The goal we had been longing for finally arrived just five minutes before the break.  Another corner, taken yet again by Brittain, was this time converted with a header from Richards who sent the ball back across the goal towards the far post and into the net.  That goal put Justin into double figures on the scoresheets.
HT: 1 - 0
Grays came out of the dressing room early after an obviously heated discussion in there and for the first ten minutes of the second half they seemed to have a bit more about them.  They had two chances to draw level when Ken Beaney fired over the bar after Stuart Thurgood had set him up and then came the miss of the game when Forrester headed wide after a great cross from Ishmael Welsh.

That miss spurred the Reds into action and we took control of the game once more.  Grays slipped off the horizon as we doubled the score with a fine opportunistic goal from Matt Barnes-Homer.

Beaney was caught out hesitating on the edge of the area and, under pressure from Andy Ferrell, he passed the ball back weakly to his goal keeper but only as far as the hovering MBH.  He took the ball on and curled his shot around the advancing Button to keep himself in touch with his strike partner in the scoring stakes.

With the weather deteriorating the game settled down to a comfortable win for us and Grays seeming to have no intention of making anything of it.

Ten minutes from the end the Harriers manager, Mark Yates, made a double substitution and replaced Richards and Barnes-Homer with Darryl Knights and Stefan Moore.  It took just seconds for the two to combine in a move that saw Moore shooting just wide following a brilliant defence splitting pass from Knights.

Our last chance to increase the lead fell to Brian Smikle but his long distance effort went just over the bar as the referee blew his whistle on the days proceedings.

The three points takes us back into sixth place in the League and just two points now separate the leading seven teams.  We play the seventh placed side, Cambridge Utd, in the FA Cup next Saturday and we're going to have to raise our game above today's effort if we hope to get into the next round.

Before that we have a meaningless game at Burton on Tuesday night in the Setanta Shield.  Not the ideal preparation for a more important game so we'll probably see a slightly changed side for that game.
FT: 2 - 0

 Goals for Harriers: Richards 40, Barnes-Homer 59


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gif Justin Richards
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Harriers  subs   cards      Grays Athletic  subs   cards 
Bartlett     Button  
Lowe     Davis  
Baker gif     Gier gif  
Ferrell   Stuart  
Creighton     Batt  
Riley     Cogan  
Smikle     Thurgood
Brittain     Elliott  
Barnes-Homer gif     Beaney  
Penn     Welsh  
Richards gif     Forrester
SUBS:       SUBS:    
Coleman     Arnold  
McDermott     Sloma  
Bennett gif     Wilnis  
Knights gif     Gray gif  
Moore gif     Dayes  

REFEREE:
Mr M Haywood
Cheshire





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