Harriers 1 Crawley Town 0
away fans: 33
Caines leads the line and scores
Report by Harry Taylor
A game which was heading for a draw was surprisingly turned on its head at Aggborough today. Forced into making changes, manager Mark Yates brought Gavin Caines and Aaron Farrell into the side for Chris McPhee, who was out injured, and Robbie Matthews, missing through suspension, respectively.
Following the previous week's large turnout for the big clash, against Luton Town, the ground was relatively empty even for a normal league game like todays. The start to the game much reflected the atmosphere, flat and lacking inspiration with neither sides capturing the crowds excitement. Crawley threatened the home goal first, with the useful looking Callum Willock going close before Barry Cogan forced Dean Coleman into a save, tipping the ball onto the post much to the Harriers fans relief.
The Harriers also had chances to take the lead with Matthew Barnes-Homer hitting a shot straight at Simon Rayner in the Crawley goal and a series of corners taken by Darryl Knights which came to nothing for the home side.
The Harriers best chance of the game came in the 38th minute when midfielder John Finnegan was put through and all he had to do was put it past the keeper, but he shot straight at Rayner and the ball was palmed away straight at Knights but he couldn't control it and capitalise on the rebound.
Mere minutes before the break Dean Bennett then had a superb powered drive tipped away for a corner as Harriers began to press for the opening goal and then seconds later perseverance from Lee Baker almost resulted in his first Harriers goal when he evaded a series of tackles on the goal line, jumped over one and then stumbled as he unleashed a stunning shot that hit the base of the post and flew over the bar to safety.
The referee David Drysdale blew the whistle on the forty five with the score at 0 - 0. Harriers clearly missing Robbie Matthews, with Farrell not seeming an adequate replacement and the team as a whole were also lacking real creativity with only Knights being the spark for the Harriers.
The events of the first half weren't enough to excite the fans and so the atmosphere was as flat as two year old Coke.
HT: 0 - 0
The second half began with neither sides prepared to have a go and the game slowly turned into a drab, dull affair that seemed to be destined for the stereotypical 0 - 0 draw. Both sets of fans had to wait until the 60th minute for the first shot which Barnes-Homer hacked well wide of the far post.
Just after that the dangerous Willock appeared to have put the ball into the net but luckily for us it had already been flagged for offside and the home fans breathed a sigh of relief. Shortly after David McDermott came on for the largely unimpressive John Finnegan, this was Maccy D's first appearance since the shocking challenge in the Wrexham game, a month ago, that saw Silvio Spann sent off.
Immediately McDermott's energy, pace and skillfulness was prevalent as he made Wilson look silly with a stepover dummy that won a corner but Knights failed to convert. The Harriers then began to pile on more pressure with both Gavin Caines and Duane Courtney both striking shots over the bar.
Barnes-Homer also had a good chance as he nicked the ball of Rayner to round the keeper but as he tried to square it, it was intercepted and cleared by the former Harrier Glenn Wilson, but this gave the Harriers fans their voice for the first time in the game as the chants started to come down from the Town end.
Then as Kidderminster's momentum was starting to decline once again Tom Sharpe came on for the mediocre Aaron Farrell. He had failed to impress on his first start for the club since signing in the summer and one wonders how long he will be at the club once January arrives. Gavin Caines was pushed up front to add a bit more of a presence and win headers.
This gave Harriers more initiative and a sign of things to come came via McDermott as he got behind the Crawley defence to send a a shot wide of the near post. Then a series of corners came that would change the game.
Knights took the first corner, but it was cleared by the tall Adam Quinn for another corner. Given a second chance he then lofted the ball over and it was headed away as far as David McDermott who sent in a half volley that got deflected off a defenders legs and went straight to the barely onside Gavin Caines. He just about controlled it and smashed it home from inside the six yard box, not far from the far post, and the goal sent Harriers fans into raptures of disbelief as the players celebrated wildly by the corner flag.
Crawley failed to have any meaningful shots on goal due to the Harriers control of the remainder of the game and despite it originally looking destined for a draw it somehow ended up with another three points for the Reds and a climb up to seventh place in the table. We have a break form the League next week with the visit of Fleetwood Town in the FA Cup and we're going to have to play a darned sight better than this if we hope to progress to the next round.