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Match preview Vs Stevenage Borough - FA Trophy semi final 1st leg

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Date: 13-03-10gif Venue: Aggboroughgif Kick off: 15:00hrs
This game, the first leg of the Trophy semi finals, might not be Wembley itself but the enthusiasm surrounding the game is almost on a par with May 12th 2007 when we played tomorrows opponents, Stevenage Borough, in that ill fated Final.  That game saw us take a two goal lead through James Constable but then in the second half give it all away with Boro scoring three times.

Brian Smikle Many fans that day blamed Mark Yates naivety when he failed to make a defensive substitution when Boro started scoring.  Instead he threw on more strikers and the defence was ripped to shreds.  If he had made the correct decision we could have held on to a 2-1 scoreline but instead ended up losing 3-2.

Don't take it away from Stevenage though.  That second half comeback was truly amazing for a team that looked out of it by the end of the first half.

Of those two sides that day we have just Brian Smikle (left) still with us and Stevenage have two.  The scorer of their first goal, Mitchell Cole, is still with them as is defender Ronnie Henry.

We have had a more difficult route to this stage with our first game coming at Matlock Town in December last year.  We ran out 2-0 winners with lateish goals from Robbie Matthews and Chris McPhee.  On the same day Boro were at home to Ebbsfleet and also won their game 2-0 with goals from the former Harrier, Chris Beardsley and Yemi Oudabade.

The next round for both sides should have been early in the New Year but poor weather meant that we couldn't play Lewes until January 19th, the same evening that Stevenage put six past Vauxhall at Broadhall Way.  We made it a bit harder for ourselves by going into a 2-0 first half lead but then getting pulled back to 2-2 before Gavin Caines scored a last gasp winner to send the crowd ecstatic.

Weather again played it's part in the next round and our long awaited meeting, at the end of January, with Worcester City was called off at the last minute due to a 'frozen' pitch although the ground was bathed in early spring sunshine.  Stevenage went ahead with their game, at home again, to Dover Athletic and won 4-1.  We went to St Georges Lane two days later and put them in their place with Chris McPhee giving us the single goal victory.

A couple of weeks ago we turned in the performance of the round and travelled to promotion hopefuls Oxford Utd and won 2-1 with goals from Brian Smikle and Matthews in front of over 400 Harriers fans.  Borough played Workington and for over ninety minutes the game looked to be going to a replay at a goal apiece.  That was until in the seventh minute of Fergie time Stacy Long popped up with the winning goal.  Oh, that game was at home too.

We'll have two players missing for the game after having previously played in the Trophy this season.  Marc Goodfellow played for Barrow and Jack Byrne played for Redditch Utd.  Dean Coleman is out for the remainder of the season with a groin injury.

Hopefully we'll also be backed up with a decent home crowd behind us and they will roar us on to victory.  We need a good, positive scoreline to take into the second leg next week and with us going through a good spell under Steve Burr I think we can do that.

The only fly in the ointment is that Stevenage seem to be scoring for fun in recent weeks whereas we are struggling.  Burr has strengthened our striking lineup but neither Adam Boyes or James Lawrie have hit the back of the net for us yet so let's hope they start doing just that tomorrow.

Photo © KHFC


Teams:

Harriers from:
Singh, Atkins, Baker, Riley, Bignot, Courtney, Sharpe, Finnigan, Knights, Hadley, McPhee, Bennett, Hayward, Caines, Smikle, Lawrie, Boyes, Matthews.

Stevenage from:
Bayes, Day, Rayner, Wilson, Laird, Odhiambo, Ashton, Albrighton, Murphy, Long, Griffin, Boylan, Odubade, Ryan, Byrom, Roberts, Sills, Bridges, Beardsley, Cole, Drury, Bostwick, Henry, Anderson, Vincenti.

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