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Harriers 1 Northwich Victoria 2

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Date: 15-02-09gif Venue: Aggboroughgif att: 1410gif away fans: 79
Northwich Victorious. Harriers hopeless
The Harriers crashed to their third home defeat of the season to a team struggling at the bottom of the table with only one away win to their credit.  In fact they didn't really crash, they gave them the points on a plate to take home with them and help them in their fight against relegation.  They didn't give a toss about our own attempt to get back into the play-offs.

This was a game that had been pencilled in as a 'must win' game and following yesterdays games when all the other contenders for the play-offs won then we needed to do likewise.  We didn't and we never looked like doing so either.

As usual it had all started so promisingly with the Harriers fully in charge for the opening ten minutes and Matt Barnes-Homer crowning that period with the opening goal.  It was fortuitous that it came from a mistake by the Vics' Matt Bailey because if it hadn't been for him losing the ball after robbing Darryl Knights of it then Dazzler wouldn't have been able to play MBH in to score.

As usual once we scored we then sat back to let Northwich back into the game.  Most of their attacks came from Jamie Mullan - a man so small and weak looking he'd find a paper bag too much for him - and he was giving Keith Lowe a torrid time.  His darting runs and crossing was putting our own wing wizard Martin Brittain to shame.

For us Darryl Knights was trying to get something going but both Justin Richards and MBH seemed to have lost the urge to chase anything and when they did they dithered too often over where to go next and ended up either losing the ball completely or misfiring when they did unleash a shot on goal.

Andy Ferrell was also trying his best but then lost it completely when he went in two footed on the Vics Jamie Stevens sending the player crashing to the ground.  The ref almost immediately brandished a yellow card at Fez when it should really have been a red.  He did nothing about the push in Fez's face from Matt Bailey either.  He wasn't a very good referee.

On the half hour Northwich drew level.

Adam Bartlett managed to block a long range drive from Joel Byrom but only as far as the lurking Dean McDonald who then fired in his effort only for Barts to get a hand to as far as Damien Reeves.  It was Reeves that finished the move off by putting the ball into the net from close in.

The goal woke us up and we managed to force a succession of corners but nothing came of them and we settled back into our relaxed, comfort zone once more.  With the seconds ticking away to half time Northwich should have scored once more when Dean McDonald rattled the cross bar with a powerful shot that came crashing back down onto the line and then got cleared away up field.

HT: 1 - 1
We didn't seem to improve that much in the second half and it makes you wonder if they'd actually had a roasting off Mark Yates for the awful first half performance.  Richards still didn't seem interested in chasing anything that hadn't been played to his feet and our new signing, Michael Carr, didn't look match fit and should have been taken off at half time.

The closest we came to scoring in the opening minutes was when a Vics defender almost put the ball into his own net after pressure from Barnes-Homer forced his hand.  Lucky for him he had the former Harriers keeper Ryan Clarke to thank for rescuing him from embarrassment.

It wasn't until the fifty fifth minute that we came close to getting back in front.  Martin Brittain swung the ball in from the right hand side and Richards dived full length to reach it but, although he got his head to the ball, he could only direct it wide of the goal.

Yates took Carr off on sixty five minutes to make way for fresh legs in the shape of Dean Bennett.

Richards missed another easier chance soon after when Barnes-Homer managed to regain a ball lost to a defender and then play a cross over for his strike partner.  From six yards out the 'lethal striker' blazed the ball over the bar.

We made our second change of the day with Brian Smikle coming on for Darryl Knights.  A move that made one wonder if Yates was watching the same game as we were because if we had any good stuff it was coming through Dazzler.

In the eighty second minute the visitors got the goal that had been coming for a long time.  They had been awarded a dodgy free kick on the edge of the area that was taken by Matt Crowell.  He played it in to Dean McDonald who turned un-hindered to send the ball beyond the reach of Bartlett from fifteen yards out.

Yates sent on Stefan Moore in response to this setback and Ferrell went onto the bench as we changed to a more attacking line-up.  It didn't seem to work and we were still being found guilty of wasting chances by dithering around the box.

With time now running out our last chance for a goal came from a defender, Keith Lowe, but his header was too weak and too wide to cause any damage.

The game ended a minute later to another round of booing from the disappointed crowd and who can blame them.  We should expect a decent standard of football by now, seeing as were going for promotion, but this was just awful.

No doubt we'll put on a better show against Cambridge in two days time but don't bank on it.
FT: 1 - 2

 Goal for Harriers: Barnes-Homer 10
 Goals for Northwich: Reeves 30, McDonald 82


The Harriers Online MotM is:

gif Adam Bartlett
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Harriers  subs   cards      Northwich Victoria  subs   cards 
Bartlett     Clarke  
Lowe     Stevens  
Armstrong     Grand  
Ferrell gif   Bailey  
Creighton     Robinson
Jones     Crowell  
Brittain     Mullan gif  
Knights gif     Byrom  
Barnes-Homer     Reeves  
Carr gif     McDonald gif  
Richards     Elam  
SUBS:       SUBS:    
Baker     Steele gif  
Moore gif     Aspin  
McDermott     Lodge gif  
Smikle gif     Stamp  
Bennett gif     Conroy  

REFEREE:
Mr A Bennett
Devon




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