The Harriers squeezed into the 4th round of the FA Trophy after struggling to beat local rivals Worcester City tonight and have now set themselves up with a tough away draw at fellow Blue Square Premier side Oxford Utd. We went through thanks to a goal from Chris McPhee after he managed to divert a John Finnigan free kick and send the City keeper, Jake Meredith, the wrong way.
This game was originally planned to have been played on a beautiful sunny afternoon last Saturday but for some reason the referee thought it would be better to play it tonight when it was freezing cold and following a day that started with chaos on the roads due to an overnight fall of snow. The snow had cleared from the St Georges Lane pitch but it was still badly frozen in parts and was probably in a worse condition than two days ago.
We started the game, after a fifteen minute delay, with Jasbir Singh in goal once more after impressing in the 4-1 win against Grays last week. Out of the side was Robbie Matthews with a migraine and Darryl Knights on the bench to allow Dean Bennett to return to the side. Liam Dolman was missing having been sent out to Corby Town on loan earlier in the day.
For City there was a minor entourage of former Harriers players with Rob Davies, Graham Ward, Wayne Daniels, Marco Addagio and Rob Elvins all having appeared for us at one time or another. Mark Clyde came on as a sub early on in the game to make it quite a familiar City line-up.
The game itself was very poor. A neutral would have thought that instead of the Harriers being the higher standing team that we were both regular competitors in the Blue Square North.
Chances did fall to both sides with perhaps City coming the closest when they struck the post with a shot from Marc McGregor but earlier we had one almost as close when Lee Baker let fly with a fine effort from outside the area that flew a couple of feet the wrong side of Jake Meredith's goal.
If both sides had come close in the opening stages then Aaron Farrell came anything but when he was presented with a golden opportunity to score. Brian Smikle won the ball out wide then passed it inside to Damian Spencer who saw Farrell better placed to score but inexplicably Farrell sliced his shot in front of an open goal and the ball hit an unlucky duck that had been swimming along the canal, behind the goal, minding his own business.
My guess is that Farrell will not be at Aggborough for very much longer.
Soon after that lucky break for City they were forced into making an early substitution when Mark Clyde came on for the limping McGregor. Two minutes later Addagio sent a shot from a good position well over the bar and the Leylandii hedge beyond. Neither side had got their shooting boots on tonight.
Half a hour into the game and the Harriers full back, Duane Courtney, became the first name in the referees notebook when he was censured for pulling Clyde back by his shirt. The game continued in it's own messy way for the remainder of the first half and it was getting so bad out there that the Harriers fans resorted to their own entertainment by bouncing a ball around the terraces to a good deal of laughter.