Harriers 3 Oxford Utd 1
away fans: 2009
Harriers inflict defeat on the League leaders
Report by Harry Taylor
There was a carnival atmosphere inside Aggborough Stadium today when, as early as 2.15, Oxford United came to town bringing with them 2009 fans, outnumbering the Harriers fans in the home end. The game was lucky to be put on after a torrid few days of weather in the Worcestershire town with puddles still existing near the touchline by the Main Stand. Kidderminster were without talismanic midfielder Chris McPhee as he served the last of his three game suspension and Lee Baker was also missing for the Harriers after his rash challenge against Fleetwood in the FA Cup.
For Oxford Sam Deering made his first start since injury last Christmas. Mark Creighton also returned to Aggborough for the first time since leaving in the summer for £10,000 (Maths not your strong point?. Admin).
The feeling around the ground in the home end was a defeatist one with many fans not predicting the start that Harriers got as within two minutes of the kick-off Robbie Matthews turned the ball into the bottom right hand corner of the goal following a deflected cross from the left much to the delight and surprise of the home fans.
If the fans didn't see the first goal coming then they would have been shell-shocked at what happened a mere fourteen minutes later. The former Harrier, James Constable, gave away a free kick twenty five yards out and Darryl Knights stepped up to take it. Instead of dinking the ball past the wall he tamely laid it off to Matthew Barnes-Homer who smashed an unstoppable pile driver that was lucky not to break the net and gave Oxford goalkeeper Ryan Clarke no chance.
Soon after the Oxford frustration began to show as Adam Murray put in another harsh challenge on Duane Courtney that could've been deemed two footed. Murray, another ex-Harrier, only got a booking for the challenge.
United then got their foot in the door via a questionable penalty after Sam Deering ran onto a through ball down the left side of the Harriers eighteen yard box and Dean Coleman raced out to meet him. He went down to get the ball and caught Deering as well as getting a slight touch on the ball. The referee, after a brief pause, pointed to the spot and within seconds Constable had wrestled the ball off Dean Coleman and then duly dispatched it past the Harriers keeper to make the score 2-1. He then went on to celebrate with inciting gestures in front of the Harriers fans much to their disgust and anger.
Constable nearly got the equaliser and doubled his tally for the day when he beat two Kidderminster defenders and shot at the near post but Coleman clutched the ball to his chest with ease. Mark Creighton also had a chance shortly after following a Murray corner, the ex Harriers players combining, but it came to nothing as Creightons unusually acrobatic kick putting the ball far wide of the post.
The Harriers had a chance shortly before the half time break to put the game out of sight as Smikle ran onto a through ball but he could only shoot at Ryan Clarke who made a comfortable save. Danny Bulman also came close before the interval forcing a good save from Coleman.
HT: 2 - 1
The second half nearly brought another early goal for the energetic Harriers with Barnes-Homer laying the ball back to David McDermott who chipped a cross across the face of goal but Knights could only put the ball into the side netting from a highly acute angle.
Immediately Oxford them broke into the Harriers half putting a dangerous ball across the face of goal which was asking for someone to put a slight touch on it to divert it in but the Oxford players weren't aware enough to do so and the ball rolled away.
Oxford then failed to press the Harriers, very surprising as expectations were that their manager's team talk would have fired them up. Proof that this had failed was clearly evident six minutes later as Barnes-Homer raced across to the left side of the box, putting a ball across the floor, for the Harriers target man Robbie Matthews to side foot the ball into the net from eight yards out. The ball went through Clarke's legs to send the remarkably few Harriers fans into raptures at the possibility of a seemingly impossible victory.
The Oxford manager, Chris Wilder, reacted to this by putting on the former Histon striker Jack Midson who had scored against the Harriers last season. Midson immediately won a free kick getting Martin Riley booked in the process.
The change made little impact as Harriers still dominated play, passing the ball around and creating problems for Uniteds defence. With fifteen minutes to go a ball was put over the top for Barnes-Homer to run onto and with Kinniburgh chasing he ran onto it only to be hauled down. The foul commanded a straight red to reduce Oxford to ten men and a penalty and both were duly given.
Matthews stepped up to complete his hat-trick but could only put the ball to Clarke's right which forced a superb save from the keeper. Smikle then got on the end of the rebound and a spectacular save from Clarke denied a fourth goal for the Harriers.
From the resulting corner Knights could only cross the ball straight to Clarke. Soon after Matthew Green tried to win a penalty with underhand tactics and the referee rightly booked him for the dive inside the Harriers area. Green then went down soon after needing to be substituted with Adam Chapman making an appearance in his place.
As the end neared the tension inside the ground increased and a sense of relief came over some fans when, surprisingly, there was only three minutes awarded. Kidderminster manager Mark Yates utilised the two remaining substitutes to run down the clock in stoppage time and a combination of this and Robbie Matthews superb holding up of the ball meant that the whistle blew with the score at 3-1 to the Harriers.
This was a fantastic result considering the money spent on the respective squads. It was also a fantastic advert for non-league football, giving more proof that it is a highly competitive league.
The Harriers thoroughly outplayed Oxford making the mighty Reds seem like the side at the top of the league, although Oxfords class was evident at times in the game. James Constable could be lucky to have not seen red after persistent fouling coupled with dissent meant that some referees would have given him two yellows but it was still a fantastic result for the Harriers.
If only there were more people there to see it..