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Harriers 1 Stevenage Borough 5 - FA Trophy semi final 1st leg

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Date: 13-03-10gif Venue: Aggboroughgif att: 2433gif away fans: 317
The FA should give Stevenage a bye into the final

gifReport by Harry Taylor
Kidderminster Harriers, today, turned out a performance that disappointed many and wasn't worthy of the Harriers fans support.  The home side fans turned out in droves with an attendance of 2433 to witness what could've been a win for the Harriers but it wasn't.

From the word 'go' Stevenage showed more fight, passion and belief than the Harriers and the freescoring side did exactly that as the Kidderminster team folded completely like a badly constructed tower of cards.  Now, with a 5-1 goal deficit, 99% of fans severely doubt our chance of progressing to the final and who can blame them with a visit to Broadhall Way greeting them in 7 days, a place where Stevenage haven't lost in sixteen months.

As mentioned, straight from kickoff Stevenage showed more effort and were first to the ball and forced chances within minutes but the Harriers defence was initially equal to it and kept Boro out.  The home side created a good chance with fifteen minutes gone when Brian Smikle attempted an acrobatic volley which went just over the crossbar and if on target, would've caused Stevenage keeper Chris Day problems.

However the resilience and resistance to the oncoming Stevenage attack only lasted until midway through the half as on twenty six minutes Stevenage finally took the lead.  An attack down the right hand side saw the ball played back only as far as Michael Bostwick who then put in a superb curling cross which was met by David Bridges as he won an aerial battle with Smikle to send a fantastic header past Ross Atkins in the Harriers goal to give the away side the lead.

Neither Kidderminsters fans nor team let their heads drop though as three minutes later they had got an equaliser.  From a corner the ball eventually found Gavin Caines outside the area.  The goalscoring centreback hit a piledriver of a shot which Day initially got a hand to but, such was the power of the shot, his hand only further diverted the ball into the net and the ball found the top right hand corner and levelled up the game.

Straight after kickoff though Mitchell Cole could have got sent off as Harriers regained possession only for Cole to take exception to this and lashed out at Darryl Knights to nearly provoke a fight.  The referee, Mr Woolmer, only gave him a yellow card despite a large section of the home support calling for a red.

Following the equaliser the Harriers fans started to believe they could improve and try to get something out of the game.  A little under a year ago against the same side the Harriers came back from two goals down to win 4-2 but that was a different team to the one we have now and Stevenage continued to attack and they nearly got a third when Chris Beardsley robbed the ball off Caines and hit a powerful shot straight at Atkins who palmed the ball away.

Little did he know that if he scored this, he would've had a hat-trick against his former club.  Subsequently ten minutes later the lead was Stevenage's again.  Beardsley got past both Gavin Caines and Martin Riley and his pace gave him the edge over the Harriers centrebacks, to then squeeze a ball across the face of goal for it to be turned into the net by the Nigerian Striker Yemi Obubade.

Just before the half time whistle Stevenage increased their lead further following a corner that was sent across to the far post.  Un-marked, Bridges easily headed the ball into the Harriers goal for the third.

Now the home fans were worried as the whistle blew to take them into half time.
  HT: 1 - 3
Despite all the problems of the first half there was nothing changed for the second half as continual long and high balls were pumped up to Knights who had little chance of winning them in the air against the tall defensive line of Stevenage.  Adam Boyes showed nothing upfront and just topped off the Harriers impotent forward line with a poor performance.

Kidderminster continued to have more possession in the Stevenage half but did nothing with it, instead opting to pass the ball backwards or sidewards instead of hitting it forwards.  This wasn't helped by the poor movement off the ball from some of our attacking players.  The only chance from this period worthy of mention was when Smikle got past the Stevenage defence to hit a shot which some started celebrating but unfortunately it rolled just past the far post.

Robbie Matthews was then introduced in the sixtieth minute for Boyes and immediately he did well putting himself about against a physical Stevenage defence who weren't strangers to pushing but this didn't stop Stevenage scoring a killer fourth goal.

A ball was crossed in from the right and Andy Drury, on earlier for Joel Byrom, put a hard header straight onto the bar.  The rebound came straight back and was met by Beardsley, who had eased past Caines, to head into an empty net with Atkins completely out of position.

This was met with Harriers trying to get back into the game with a Martin Riley header from a corner but it went straight at Chris Day who made an easy catch.

The Harriers still continued to have more possession although they didn't create anything apart from a futile shot from Dean Bennett from thirty yards out.  This spell of possession didn't stop Stevenage getting a fifth goal when late on Riley dallied with the ball well into his own half.  Beardsley tackled him and again his pace took him away from Riley instantly.  His shot powered into the bottom corner of the net with Atkins having little chance of saving it and giving Harriers little chance of getting anything back in the away leg.

Beardsley should have been given a yellow card for over celebrating as he ran into the advertising hoardings to celebrate with the Stevenage travelling support, something Neil Mackenzie got booked for last season against Ebbsfleet at home.

Five minutes of added time were given at the end of the game much to the dismay of the Kidderminster 'faithful' who by this time had voted with their feet and left the ground.  A shame for a club who are so eager to attract new home fans.

The overall game and result was gifted to Stevenage because the Harriers played with very little passion and effort.  Something that is definitely needed in a game of this magnitude.  Again this wasn't helped by Stevenage's time wasting but you cannot blame them.

After all the positive build up to the game on the day the Harriers were awful and it will be a legendary comeback if they can win 5-0 at Broadhall Way.

Can it be done? We'll have to see come 5.00pm on the 20th of March.  If they do manage to get to Wembley that day will go down in history.
  FT: 1 - 5

 Goals for Harriers: Caines 29
 Goals for Stevenage: Bridges 26, 43, Odubade 38, Beardsley 70, 83


The Harriers Online MotM is:

gif Brian Smikle
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Harriers  subs   cards      Stevenage Borough  subs   cards 
Atkins     Day  
Courtney     Henry  
Baker     Laird  
Bignot gif     Byrom gif  
Caines     Ashton  
Riley     Roberts  
McPhee     Bridges gif  
Bennett     Beardsley  
Boyes gif     Bostwick  
Knights   Cole gif
Smikle     Odubade  
SUBS:       SUBS:    
Singh     Bayes  
Sharpe     Albrighton gif  
Matthews gif     Drury gif  
Hayward     Vincenti gif  
Lawrie gif     Sills  

REFEREE:
Mr K Woolmer
Northamptonshire




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