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Harriers 4 Stevenage Boro 2

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Date: 04-04-09gif Venue: Aggboroughgif att: 2115gif away fans: 209
Harriers comeback seals crucial win
This was the one game that no Harriers fan was really looking forward to.  Although we have been in excellent form lately and in the middle of a seven game unbeaten stretch it was no comparison to Stevenage's twenty four game unbeaten run.

Today we need worry no longer.  Our run has now been extended to eight and Stevenage have seen their own personal best destroyed in tatters by a second half performance from the Harriers that lifted Aggborough to the rafters.  We have also put four points between the sides in the play-off race and set ourselves up nicely for the trip to Forest Green on Tuesday.

Starting with one change to the side, with Martin Riley coming back in, that destroyed Woking during the week, we looked very nervous at first and allowed Stevenage to dominate the game.  That domination reaped it's dividend just seven minutes into the game when a long kick from the Boro keeper Chris Day found Steve Morison near to the edge of our box.  Morison then flicked the ball past Keith Lowe who un-characteristically slipped letting Morison cross the ball to the unmarked Lee Boylan to convert easily.

The goal was something that we didn't want but it wasn't the end of the world and we knew that such a mistake wouldn't happen again and we'd soon pull the goal back.

For the next fifteen minutes we laboured in vain to get anything going.  Keith Lowe tried to erase the memory of his mistake with a free kick that wasn't as good as the one at Woking and Mark Creighton tried his luck from thirty yards out but the ball got beaten away by a defender.  Just when we looked to be about to make the breakthrough a tragic mistake from Adam Bartlett gifted Stevenage their second goal.

Lee Baker played the ball back to Barts but for some unfathomable reason the usually unflappable keeper chose to move the ball across his box rather than kick it upfield.  Mitchell Cole came rushing in and Barts panicked and weakly cleared the ball into the path of Morison.  He played it back in to Cole but Bartlett got to it first but it then squirmed away from him and allowed Cole to follow up and put it into the net.

We were looking defeat straight in the face and couldn't believe how inept our usually strong defence were.  But then a stroke of good fortune came our way.

Russ Penn was trying to rally the troops and showed them how to do it when he cleanly robbed Danny Murphy of the ball on the halfway line.  Murphy got what he thought was his revenge a few minutes later when Russ had the ball in a similar position and went in on him from behind with both feet.

The referee immediately ran over and pulled Murphy away from Russ's angry team mates.  At first it looked like Murphy was just going to receive a yellow card but his persistent arguing changed the ref's mind and a red card came out.

Now up against ten men we should have been able to get on top of the game but we were playing it too narrow down the middle and against Stevenage's defenders we weren't getting a look in.  The free kick from the original offence went nowhere and we managed to get our first corner just after that but it was obvious that a change was needed.

Off went Darryl Knights and on came Martin Brittain to give us a bit of width and that's just what he did in glorious fashion.

Five minutes before the break the Stevenage defender, Ronny Henry, suddenly dropped to the floor for no apparent reason in the middle of the pitch.  The ref went over to him and called for a stretcher so it was certain that he was in some kind of pain but Henry seemed to be refusing treatment and a stretcher so for two minutes we were stood there thinking what was going on.

This inaction was getting to us and the jeers and catcalls started up until finally the apparently injured man left the field and was taken straight down the tunnel.  Mark Albrighton came on in place of him.

With the added width we now started to take the game to Stevenage more and the pace of Brittain was leaving the Stevenage defenders in his wake.  He got to the byeline and crossed to the far post but the ball was put out for a corner and from that corner, which he took, we finally managed to pull a goal back.

Brit whipped in the corner straight to the keeper but Day flapped at it and could only push it out as far as Matty Barnes-Homer.  He doesn't usually turn that kind of gift down and he didn't this time as his header flew into the back of the net at just the right time for us.

We now had forty five minutes to get back into the game.
HT: 1 - 2
We came out of the blocks and went in search of that all important second goal with Brittain sending a free kick just wide of the post.  At the other end Morison should have made it 3-1 with a shot that went wide but then a wonder goal from Russ Penn put us back to all square.

Brittain again played his part when he broke free down the right and sent in a cross that scythed through the Stevenage defence and fell just right for Russ to launch himself horizontally forward to meet the ball and power it into the net with his head.  It was possibly one of the best goals I've witnessed at Aggborough.

Boro responded with a half chance that Mark Roberts put wide, following Morison's initial shot, that was pushed away by Bartlett and then Mitchell Cole saw his shot go just over the bar but then amazingly we went further ahead.

This time it was Justin Richards with the honours.  Lee Baker broke free down the right and sent over a head height cross that went above the head of Roberts and fell just perfectly for Richards to awake from his slumber and put the ball home.

It wasn't going to stop there because three minutes later we killed the visitors hopes of getting anything from the game with another stunning goal.  This time Chris McPhee was the provider of the cross, this time from the left, that dropped and bounced perfectly for Brittain to volley an un-stoppable shot into the net from the edge of the area.

We had gone from being 2-0 down and out of it to going two goals clear and on the verge of maximum points from a game that in the first half we scarcely deserved.

The Stevenage manager Graham Westley made his second change of the game and bought on the Peter Crouch look-alike Peter Vincenti in place of Scott Laird.

It made no difference because for the next fifteen minutes we were un-stoppable and magical.  The ball was being played to feet, we were leaving Boro for dead and they just couldn't cope with us.  Well, they could but that was only by using dubious tactics.

Eventually the game settled back down to one that Stevenage knew by now that they had lost and we just played the ball around and did just the essential things to keep in control.  We had a couple of chances for Lee Baker - his was pushed out for a corner - and Richards who bought an easy save from Day but should really have made him work a bit harder by hitting it harder.  For Stevenage Lee Boylan came close to getting his second goal when his shot was pushed onto the crossbar by Bartlett and then cleared away by Keith Lowe.

For the last ten minutes of the game Barnes-Homer went off to be replaced by Stefan Moore and soon after Michael Carr came on for the hard working Dean Bennett.  McPhee lashed a shot across the face of the goal and late on Morison made one last attempt to score with a chip that went just over the bar.

The game finally ended after five minutes of injury time and the floodlights about to come on.  A great comeback by the Reds had seen off the Stevenage threat and now we have to see what Forest Green can do to stop the mighty Harriers war machine.
FT: 4 - 2

 Goals for Harriers: Barnes-Homer 44, Penn 49, Richards 58, Brittain 61
 Goals for Stevenage: Boylan 7, Cole 22


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

REFEREE:
Mr R Lewis
Shropshire




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