The curse of Amy Rayner struck the Harriers again at Oxford tonight when a dubious penalty decision was given in the struggling home sides favour to give them their first home win against us since January 2004. The former Harriers player, James Constable, was caught between Mark Creighton and Martin Riley as he chased a ball into the penalty area and, at first, Rayner waved it on but then when her assistant flagged for a foul she changed her mind.
Changing their prerogative is a female offence when it suits them but not on the football field please.
She booked Mark for the 'offence' and then totally ignored a similar situation when Russ Penn was bought down by Matt Day on the edge of the area a few minutes later. In her defence she didn't punish Stefan Moore for an obvious elbow either.
Moore was the choice to start the game following the injury to Justin Richards on Saturday and alongside him was Darryl Knights with Matt Barnes-Homer dropping to the bench. Martin Riley continued next to Creighton and Luke Jones had to be content with sitting down once more.
Following a messy opening twenty minutes the game finally settled down with just the one chance to show for Utd after Lewis Haldane sent an effort from twenty five yards out well over Adam Bartlett's crossbar. James Clarke also had a weak effort easily saved and in reply we had done very little.
Then came the 'penalty' decision and, after Rayner had booked Creighton, Constable stepped up to put an un-stoppable shot past Bartlett for the only goal of the night.
A bit of niggle started to creep into the game and already Rayner was beginning to lose control. Martin Brittain thought that he had been unfairly tackled by Constable and then once recovered he then tackled him from behind. Rayner booked him for the offence but then proceeded to ignore any fouls made on a Harriers player.
With just over thirty minutes gone we came very close to pulling a goal back. Darryl Knights raced onto a through ball from Brian Smikle, that Stefan Moore had stepped over, and then fired in a shot that beat Billy Turley but cannoned back off the upright. It was played back in but no one could get to it to finish the job off.
Utd came back with a header from Constable that went wide and Matt Day denied Smikle a chance to score when he won a sliding tackle just before Smikle was about to shoot.
The half ended with one final chance for Utd to score when Yemi Odubade got free on goal but a similar tackle by Lee Baker denied him the chance to score too.