Ebbsfleet Utd 0 Harriers 0
Venue: Stonebridge Road
away fans: 73
Harriers held by Cronin masterclass
Report by Morgan Nock
The Harriers were denied a second win of the season in a feisty and frustrating clash with Ebbsfleet United at Stonebridge Road today.
The home sides goalkeeper, Lance Cronin, claimed the Man of the Match award from both sets of fans after making a string of good saves to deny the Kidderminster forwards.
Matt Barnes-Homer was pacy (as ever) but was caught offside unnecessarily several times during the opening exchanges and we had an early claim for a goal waved aside. A slick through ball from Brian Smikle was turned home by Barnes-Homer just as the linesman raised his flag to the dismay of the Harriers faithful.
New signing Robbie Mathews was playing a big part in the Harriers attacks holding up the ball well to build up the play.
On twenty five minutes James Lindie pounced on an error by the Kidderminster centre back Gavin Caines and flashed a shot just over the bar from twelve yards although 'keeper Dean Coleman had it covered. This came in a short spell of 'Fleet dominance which saw some decent link up between Ricky Shakes and Ishmael Welsh.
A clearance from Martin Riley saw Darryl Knights slide a ball into the path of Matt Barnes-Homer who found himself one-on-one with 'keeper Cronin who could only parry a fierce shot. Barnes-Homer retrieved the ball and from the edge of the area smashed another shot low towards the bottom corner of the goal. A stupendous one-handed save from England C star Cronin again saved Ebbsfleet's lines.
Moments before half time the Harriers won a corner which was driven in by Darryl Knights and met by the head of Brian Smikle who saw the header saved.
HT: 0 - 0
Harriers again pushed for a goal straight from the off with Chris McPhee, playing against his former club, picking up the ball on the edge of the area before off loading it to Robbie Matthews who flashed a shot across the face of the goal. As Harriers were pushed onto the back foot Dean Bennett miscued a clearance which ended up in the middle of Harriers box only for a Dean Coleman to make a comfortable save from Ishmael Welsh's header.
Magno Viera was then played in as Ebbsfleet started to push for a winner but a superb recovering tackle from Duane Courtney kept 'Fleet out.
Kyle Hadley and David McDermott were introduced but McDermott proved ineffective against the physical presence of Leon Crooks in the Ebbsfleet defence. Hadley also struggled physically until he broke free late in the game. From a through ball, by Chris McPhee, Hadley found him self free at the near post and as he shot half of the ground thought he'd won it for Kidderminster but again Cronin denied the visitors that vital goal.
Gavin Caines immediately jumped at the opportunity of a first goal in Harriers blue but saw his shot fly wide of the mark.
In injury time, just seconds after Cronin had been given the MotM award, he excelled himself even further. McPhee latched onto a brilliant pass from Courtney and side footed the ball towards he Ebbsfleet goal. Cronin was wrong footed and the ball looked destined to be going in but somehow the keeper managed to get to it and pushed it out but only as far as MBH. His follow-up was also heading for the back of the net but an amazing piece of defending from Salmon was enough to send the ball wide.
All in all a disappointing result but a performance, which on other days, could easily have seen the Harriers securing three points and a hefty tally to add to the goal difference.
Good signs for the rest of the season, onwards and upwards!