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Stevenage Borough 3 Harriers 1

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Date: 21-04-09gif Venue: Broadhall Waygif att: 2530gif away fans: 250 ?
Play off dream on a knife edge
The Harriers saw the first glimpse of the play-offs slowly receding tonight when they were well and truly scuppered by a Stevenage side intent on banishing the defeat at Aggborough out of their mind and also intent on making it into the play-offs by winning the game.  Something that we failed to do at Histon on Saturday and instead seemed happy to settle for the point.

With everyone's preferred line-up starting the game - that's any team that includes Martin Brittain - we started looking very shaky and suspect at the back.  Boro were going all out for the early goal and it wasn't long coming.

Andy Drury played a great ball past Lee Baker for Ronnie Henry to send a low cross to the edge of the area.  Darren Murphy then sent it goalwards and destined for the back of the net but then struck Steve Morison on the back.  With the Harriers looking for the offside flag, that was never going to come, Morison quickly spun round and fired the ball beyond Adam Bartlett from eight yards out.

The home side had got the early goal they wanted and now they were out for a second.  Morison almost grabbed it when he bought the ball down with his chest and then, from out wide, sent in a dipping, swerving volley that looped over Bartlett and came crashing back off the bar.

Mitchell Cole was the next in line and he also sent in a powerful shot towards the near post that Barts did well to push away for a corner.

We were being run ragged and couldn't seem to get out of our own half.  Such was the pressure our defenders were getting from the Stevenage front men and also from the referee who seemed hell bent on giving every decision to the home team.  One particular incident in the first half saw Martin Riley bought down, two footed, from behind in the penalty area and the referee just waved play on.  Later on in the game Dean Bennett got booked for protesting about the way Stevenage scored their third goal,

Slowly the game settled down and the early urge had gone from Stevenage's play so allowing the Harriers to get into the game more.

On the stroke of halftime we managed to pull a goal back against the run of play and so give us fresh hope.

Justin Richards had already given warning when he collected the ball just past the halfway line and raced towards goal.  His low shot wasn't strong enough to beat Chris Day in the hosts goal though.

The goal did come just seconds later when Justin was given enough space in the area to fire the ball beyond Day and send us in for the break all square.
HT: 1 - 1
As in the first half, and as we also did at Histon, we switched off in the opening few minutes.  Boro made our lapse in concentration pay following a series of corners awarded to the home side and when one corner was played out to the dangerman, Lee Boylan, he didn't need telling where the goal was and from thirty yards out he sent in a shot that beat Bartlett at his left hand post.

We had a chance to redeem our mistake soon after when Scott Laird attempted a back pass that failed miserably and fell just right for Matt Barnes-Homer to run on to.  Matty's shot hit a Stevenage player on the way towards goal and spun out over the top of the goal.

On sixty five minutes the game was over for us - and maybe the play-offs too - when Boylan grabbed his brace and put his side 3-1 up.

Andy Drury sent Mitchell Cole racing down the left side of the pitch from where he played an inch perfect cross to Boylan.  His glancing header found the back of the net, coming off the inside of the far post on it's way in.

Just after the goal we made our first change of the night and Brian Smikle came on for Russ Penn.

We also had appeals for a penalty turned down, of course, when Chris McPhee was pushed over in the area by Michael Bostwick but again the referee could see nothing wrong with such a challenge.

We were now starting to tire and the team couldn't seem to lift themselves any further.  More changes were made with Darryl Knights and Stefan Moore coming on for Keith Lowe and MBH respectively but it was all too late and the game almost ended with a fourth goal for the Boro when their substitute, Junior Mendes, almost beat Bartlett with a shot at the near post.

Our first defeat in fourteen games couldn't have come at a worse time for us because we now have just one game to put put things right if we want to make the play-offs.  We must beat Kettering at home on Sunday but we must also hope that Burton and Mansfield can do us some good by beating Torquay Utd and tonight's opponents, Stevenage in their games.

A win for either side would mean the premature end to our season and another year spent in the Blue Square Premier.
FT: 3 - 1

 Goals for Stevenage: Morison 4, Boylan 48, 65
 Goal for Harriers: Richards 45


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Stevenage Borough  subs   cards      Harriers  subs   cards 
Day     Bartlett  
Roberts     Lowe gif  
Laird     Baker  
Henry     McPhee  
Bostwick   Creighton  
Albrighton   Riley  
Murphy     Brittain  
Cole gif     Bennett
Morison     Barnes-Homer gif  
Boylan gif     Penn gif  
Drury gif     Richards  
SUBS:       SUBS:    
Bayes     Ferrell  
Wilson gif     Jones  
Mendes gif     Moore gif  
Willock gif     Knights gif  
Vincenti     Smikle gif  

REFEREE:
Mr B Malone
Wiltshire




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