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Harriers 1 Lewes 1

Date: 09-08-08 Venue: Aggborough att: 1503 away fans: 45
Deano hands Lewes a point
The new look Harriers kicked off the 08-09 season with a disappointing home draw against newly promoted Lewes in a game that, during the first half, saw them given a multitude of chances to win the game and a second half that saw them lose the way entirely.

With a tougher game coming up at Cambridge on Tuesday night they're going to have to do a lot better than this.

Although the point was a better return than in previous opening games of the season when we have lost to both St Albans and Aldershot at least we could point to the fact that both those teams were far better than the Harriers on the day which is more than could be said for Lewes.  If it wasn't for Dean Bennett handing them a lifeline with a needless own goal then it would have been hard to see them scoring at all.

Having said that we didn't look too hot in front of goal either with countless chances being squandered and some equally good goal keeping from Rikki (am I as good as my Dad?) Banks.  The Harriers goal from Justin Richards had a suspicion of own goal too when he poked it home as the ball pinged about in the box, off the bar and off the foot of a Lewes defender.

We started the game with both Dean Bennett and Simon Russell in the starting line-up after brinkmanship from both the players and the board lead to neither of them having signed a proper contract yet.  They came in at the expense of the expected debuts of Martin Brittain and David McDermott who were both on the bench.

At the back was Adam Bartlett making his first official appearance for us with Lee Baker and Michael Bowler protecting him from expected raids from the Lewes frontline.  There were also welcome returns for Darryl Knights and Luke Jones following their loans to us last season.

Upfront where everyone was expecting a strong strikeforce we had Justin Richards as a lone striker with Knights and Russ Penn in support.  The man that was expected to be there alongside Richards, Matt Barnes-Homer, was sat on the bench and we were wondering why?

The game got off to a frantic start with the Harriers looking to finish Lewes off within the first twenty minutes but we couldn't seem to get the shots onto the target accurately enough.  Chances fell the way of Andy Ferrell, Michael Bowler and Darryl Knights but it wasn't until just over twenty minutes in that we actually opened the scoring through Richards but it wasn't the cleanest of goals.

Instead of us going on to assert our authority Lewes came back strongly and put the first real pressure on Bartletts goal.  The hearts of the Harriers fans went into their mouths as a shot across the face of the goal by James Fraser, on loan from Bristol Rovers, deceived everyone including his own team mates as it went out of play.

They came even closer to scoring when the former Villa and Walsall man, Michael Standing, latched onto a pass from Matthew Geard but our new keeper earned his corn by quickly diving to his right to save Standings strong shot.  A few minutes later and our defence had been well and truly exposed for the equalising goal.

It was Geard again that played in a pass towards Fraser lurking at the far post and, with our defence having gone missing too far up field, it was left to Dean Bennett to try to slide onto the ball and clear it.  The only problem was that the only place to clear it to was towards our own goal.  Bartlett stood no chance of stopping it as the ball whizzed past him into the net.

After that the game became extremely scrappy with neither side seeming able to conjure up magic of any kind.
HT: 1 - 1
That scrappiness continued into the second half and within minutes the Harriers manager, Mark Yates, sent on Barnes-Homer to bulk up the attack.  The in-effective Simon Russell was the one forfeited for the cause.
We looked sharper up front after his arrival as Knights dropped back just behind but he was still having a poor game by his standards.

Chances came the way of Richards once more but he doesn't seem to have twenty goals a season in him.  He still hesitates in front of goal, shoots over from close range or doesn't hit the ball hard enough when given a gilt edged chance.

At times you ended up thinking, and knowing, that Christie would have buried half of the chances that Richards had.  He did have one excellent shot though that merited an equally excellent save from 'Gordon'.

On seventy minutes Yates made a mysterious decision when he took off the full back Bowler and replaced him with a winger.  Brittain looked like a fish out of water there and would have been better employed in his usual position to whip the balls into Richards and MBH.

With fifteen minutes of the game remaining now was the time to start applying pressure on the in-experienced Lewes defence but we didn't seem to have the urgency anymore.  Instead it was Lewes that could have wrapped up the game when Scott Taylor beat Mark Creighton to the ball in front of goal but his shot just feet from Bartlett was superbly saved by the Harriers keeper.

In the closing seconds David McDermott, who had come on for Knights ten minutes earlier, could also have won the game for us but his snap shot went just past the post to leave the game all square.

In the end it was a frustrating day all round for both fans and players alike.  It was a game that we were expected to win against a side tipped to go straight back down again.  Truth was that Lewes didn't look all that good but they were better organised than us and dominated the midfield and that's where it matters most of all.
FT: 1 - 1

 Goal for Harriers: Richards 22
 Goal for Lewes: Bennett 43 (og)

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Harriers  subs   cards      Lewes  subs   cards 
Bartlett     Banks  
Bowler     Barness  
Baker     Wallis-Taylor  
Ferrell     C Richards  
Creighton     Graves  
Jones     Breach  
Russell     Standing  
Knights     Keehan gif
J Richards     Fraser  
Penn     Taylor  
Bennett     Geard  
SUBS:       SUBS:    
Coleman     Ruddy  
Riley     Fenelon  
Barnes-Homer     Cox  
Brittain     Elliott  
McDermott     Rowland  

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