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Mansfield Town 3 Harriers 3

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Date: 24-04-10gif Venue: Field Millgif att: 2734gif away fans: 144
1st half horrors, 2nd half whizz kids

gifReport by Harry Taylor
At Field Mill, Mansfield, the final game of Kidderminster Harriers season was played today with a game of epic proportions and good to watch at some point for both sets of fans.  The game itself resembled the Harriers season, either very good or absolutely awful, and it only took fifteen minutes to change from one to the other.

There were two surprises in the Kidderminster line-up with a completely new defensive partnership of Chris McPhee and Tom Sharpe, who was given the armband, in place of Martin Riley who was on the bench and Luke Prosser who was dropped altogether.  Also returning to the first team squad was Dean Coleman who, whilst playing on Thursday night against Halesowen in the Harriers victorious WSC cup win, hadn't played a league game for Kidderminster since mid-February due to an operation on his groin.

On a sunny and warm day the Harriers fans were in fine voice straight from kick off and a slight party mood in the air with some sections of the away support in fancy dress, (I was a penguin).  The game originally had a typically end-of-season feel to it with the ball being passed around with little pressure put on it, John Finnegan had a volley spoon well-wide for the Harriers, but it was Mansfield who took the lead after seventeen minutes.

In the centre of the field Gary Mills passed the ball to Jake Speight who took the ball forward and, as Harriers backed off, the front man hit a hard shot from outside the area which went straight past Coleman into the goal.  Whilst the goal may've been unfair on the Harriers they proceeded to completely collapse when seven minutes later Mansfield doubled their lead with the same man again, Speight.  He picked the ball up on the right flank and ran forward past Lee Baker and Sharpe and then continued to home in on goal.  The ex-Droylsden man shot towards Coleman's near post as the Harriers goalkeeper produced an arguable error diving too early and showing Speight where to put the ball as the finish seemed almost effortless.

As he and his team-mates celebrated in the middle of the Harriers half the fans may've been wondering why they made the journey up the M1 to see their team implode.  Things could only get better surely?

This wasn't to be the case as, whilst Robbie Matthews had a shot straight at the goalkeeper Alan Marriott, Mansfield were clearly the better side as they seemed to carve Harriers open time and time again with Speight causing the Kidderminster defence endless problems with his pace and trickery on either flank, or through the centre, so it wasn't a surprise when on the forty fifth minute he sealed his hat-trick with another goalkeeping error, this time more definite than the possible one for the second goal.

The ball was put over the top of the Harriers defence and Speight ran onto it along with McPhee who managed to get a touch on the ball which should've been an easy catch for Dean Coleman.  However, instead of catching the ball he dropped it and guided it into his own net with the goal being credited to Speight despite Coleman having a hand in the goal, literally.

At half time Mansfield held a comfortable 3-0 lead, one which was demoralising the Harriers fans by the minute and despite the party-atmosphere with the costumes the scoreline wasn't really one to party about and celebrate.  There were chants of 'We're going to win 4-3', but of course we wouldn't be able to get three goals back.  Would we?
  HT: 3 - 0
Steve Burr responded to the scoreline by taking off the ineffectual Matthews who, despite blocking a shot on the line, didn't do enough in the first half to warrant being kept on in the second half.  He was replaced by Martin Riley in what could be his last game for the club with rumours rife that he may be off to join his old manager, Mark Yates, at Cheltenham.

Riley swapped for McPhee who went upfront and within five minutes Kidderminster had grabbed a goal back.  Following some good work on the left hand side Brian Smikle crossed the ball into the area towards Marriott's far post, Jack Byrne rose above his marker and headed the ball past the Mansfield goalkeeper to grab a goal back for the away side and give the fans supporting the Harriers something to cheer about.  Still though, two goals left to draw?  It couldn't happen could it?

The momentum was swinging towards the Harriers now and Lee Baker had a drive go just past the Mansfield goal, which for a moment looked as though it may threaten the goalkeeper.  Two minutes later and we had grabbed another one back.

Much like Mansfield's first, Finnegan in the middle of the park, passed the ball to Darryl Knights who then ran at the Mansfield defence, and despite having Chris McPhee in support of him, chose to hit the ball towards goal and it flew past ex-Lincoln keeper Marriott to cue more wild celebrations and heighten hopes that Kidderminster would grab an equaliser.

Mansfield weren't going to go down easily though and after the goal they pressed Harriers on numerous occasions and looked very dangerous when doing so but none of the chances came to anything and the Harriers managed to escape unscathed.

In the seventy first minute the unthinkable happened.  Chris McPhee was in the centre of the field following a well worked attack from the Harriers, Darryl Knights received a chipped ball from Baker and the goalscorer knocked the ball back to McPhee who hit a perfect volley which looked as if it took a deflection that helped it loop into Marriott's top right hand corner and gave the Harriers fans something to cheer about, something which was unthinkable twenty five minutes previously.

Ten minutes later and Mansfield should've got a winner through Speight again when he drove the ball towards the left hand side of the goal but this time Coleman atoned for his earlier mistake and got a firm hand to the ball to divert it out superbly for a corner which thankfully came to nothing.

After this the Harriers continued to attack in hope of grabbing a winner.  Lloyd Kerry (on for Finnigan) having a shot late on straight at the keeper and another substitute, Marc Goodfellow, curling in a shot from the right hand side in the dying moments which was an easy catch for Marriott.

With four minutes added on hundreds of Mansfield schoolchildren invaded the pitch in a weird fashion as the home club hadn't won anything!  With the pitch being invaded the referee silently ended the game and ushered the players to the far side of the pitch without actually blowing the final whistle on the game.  So, in effect, the game is still being played right now because it hasn't legally ended yet!!

It was a great way to end the season with and it truly was a game of two halves with the first half being Speights half as he ran Harriers ragged and put in a superb performance.  In the second half the Harriers switched on for the first time in ages and proved what they can do when they try.

Now its time for the big clearout which everyone seems to think will follow and pre-season for what could be the Harriers season - finally.
  FT: 3 - 3

 Goals for Mansfield: Speight 18, 25, 45
 Goals for Harriers: Byrne 51, Knights 54, McPhee 74


The Harriers Online MotM is:

gif Darryl Knights
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Mansfield Town  subs   cards      Harriers  subs   cards 
Marriott     Coleman  
Silk     Courtney  
Foster     Baker  
Mills     Finnigan gif  
Burgess     Sharpe  
Garner     Byrne  
Briscoe gif     McPhee  
Somner     Bennett gif  
Duffy gif     Matthews gif  
Speight gif     Knights
Williams     Smikle  
SUBS:       SUBS:    
Collett     Singh  
Shaw gif   Lawrie  
Istead gif   Goodfellow gif  
Perry gif     Kerry gif  
Nix     Riley gif  

REFEREE:
Mr P Wright
Merseyside




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