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Harriers 1 Mansfield Town 3

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Date: 21-08-10gif Venue: Aggboroughgif att: 1487gif away fans: 295
Harriers fall to a second home defeat

gif Report by Harry Taylor
After succumbing to a Southport side on Tuesday night the Harriers fans were hoping that their side would get back to winning ways against a Mansfield side who usually walk away with nothing from Aggborough.  For forty five minutes it looked to be the case, but, after three second half goals and an utterly woeful defensive performance certainly didn't help Kidderminsters' cause.

In terms of the lineup for 'The Harriers' it was the same as Tuesday night against Southport with Chris McPhee continuing to play up front with Marc Williams, who looked lively on his debut, being kept on the bench.  For Mansfield Paul Connor, who was on trial at Kidderminster in the summer, started for them.

For the first five minutes Harriers were under the cosh as Mansfield had the controlling share of the possession but were unable to create any chances and the only respite Harriers really had were a few free kicks given in their favour – although one glaring one wasn't given in the favour of Mansfield when Mike Williams pushed over Louis Briscoe as he chased him for the ball.

The referee was starting to look as though he was favouring the Harriers and that was proved somewhat with a controversial penalty of our own after a mere seven minutes in when Dave Hankin passed McPhee the ball who was then duly barged over by Steve Foster.  The referee hesitated but the linesman on the main stand side overruled him and signalled for a penalty.

Up stepped Tom Shaw who was yet to miss a penalty for us after dispatching two, including the one against Burton in pre-season, and he didn't fail to hit the back of the net this time as he sent Alan Marriott the wrong way completely and struck the ball well into the bottom left hand corner to give Harriers an early lead.

It was as if Tuesday's game had never ended though as constant goal kicks were aimed to Hankin who won his fair share of headers but it got Harriers nowhere with the passing that had dominated the first half of Tuesdays game gone and, despite Wrights endless running, chances for Harriers were scarce.

Mansfield could've been level and were very unlucky not to be when a cross was angled in from Tom Shaw towards Callum Gittings who failed to collect the header.  The ball was caught and distributed to Keigan Parker who ran the length of the pitch with the Harriers defence and midfield continuing to back off from him giving him ample time and space to float a cross across towards Paul Connor.  Connor was at the far post and his header, unluckily for him, was straight at Lewis with the former Redditch Utd goalkeeper producing a point blank save.

In the thirtieth minute we had a shot from twenty five yards out from Nick Wright who collected the ball from Keith Briggs, turned, and ran towards goal but, with few options other than to shoot, he blazed his shot well over the bar.  Such was the end-to-end nature of the game that three minutes later Mansfield nearly scored as the defence went AWOL again.  Connor was a threat aerially once again when he had a header loop over Danny Lewis.  He got a good hand to it, the ball dropped down, and fortunately the ball dropped just in front of Keith Briggs who had his most meaningful contribution to the game when he booted the ball away from the clutches of a Mansfield player who was just feet away.

Jack Byrne was the next to have a shot on goal for the Harriers with a nice piece of interplay between him and Tom Shaw.  Byrne got the ball and, running towards the Mansfield goal, his shot was curling but was close enough to Marriott to palm away for a corner which Hankin took and was too deep and wasted.  His corner taking in the last few games have been consistently poor, something which was expressed by Mark Albrighton in the 2nd half as time and time again there is too much on the crosses and it ends up bypassing all the players and goes harmlessly away as it happened at this time.

Seconds before the half time whistle Mansfield had another glorious chance to be level as they looked to teach Harriers how to take a corner and also to teach them a lesson in marking up at set pieces as Albrighton should've been marking the Mansfield player when Gary Mills swung the ball in to Foster unopposed to give him a free header that he should've got in the back of the Harriers net.

At half time the Harriers went in a goal up but were arguably far from comfortable.
  HT: 1 - 0
This uncomfortable feeling with the lead carried over into the second half as Burr's team-talk had for once seemingly failed to fire them up because eight minutes after the re-start Mansfield had finally got level.  Louis Briscoe ran with the ball down the Mansfield left and Shaw backed off and backed off allowing him to put a ball in with ease towards Luke Medley, who had only been on the pitch for five minutes, who made no mistake in thumping the ball into the back of the net to even up the game.

Alarm bells should've been ringing in the team's ears as they could see that they couldn't continue to not close down players but clearly they didn't and neither did they ring in manager Steve Burr's head as the game was crying out for one of the centre-backs to be replaced with Tom Sharpe who, surely as a taller player, would've been better in the air and would've come into the game with fresher legs to cope with the likes of Briscoe running at the defence.

Up front matters had improved with the introduction of Marc Williams at half time in place of Gittings with McPhee slotting into centre midfield with jack Byrne going to left midfield yet three minutes later Mansfield had taken the lead with a healthy slice of fortune about the goal.  A clearance up field was mistakenly blocked by Albrighton and the ball fizzed away towards the Harriers goal with Paul Connor latching onto the ball, going past Lewis, and slotting the ball under his sprawling body to spark loud celebrations from the travelling support from Mansfield.

Harriers did try and create chances but time and time again balls were attempted with little direction, they were just hoofed forward towards Marc Williams who, with his minimal height and build, could do little about it but when he did get the ball he was the best player on the park.  His strike partner, Nick Wright, was putting his usual shift in and working himself into the ground to get the ball as the midfield, apart from McPhee, had gone missing.

Hankin was unwilling to take on his man and maestro Keith Briggs is todays winner of the inaugural Lord Lucan award for going missing when needed.  In the second half he might as well not have been on the pitch with his only contribution being flapping of arms and playing a ball out to Hankin about ten yards behind him and then having a go at the winger when he didn't get the ball.  Something Briggs didn't do himself when an equally hopeful ball was played forward to him later on.

Matters then could've got far worse for Harriers in the sixty fifth minute when, in my opinion, Mark Albrighton should've walked when he hauled Medley down and then kicked him whilst he was on the floor.  I realise that a home fan shouldn't say that about their own player but I can't accept it when one of our own players kicks out at an opponent on the floor when you've seen red cards dished out in the past for players brushing past goalkeepers.  For an experienced member of the squad this kind of conduct is unacceptable and shouldn't be happening.

This was made even worse when a high ball came over late in the game, towards Rob Duffy this time, and once the ball had gone Albrighton, who already had his arms all over the ex-Rushden striker, then pushed him away which could've been a second bookable offence.  The referee then later gave fouls against Marc Williams when he was being pushed and had arms around him.  Despite the amount I've dedicated to the refereeing in this he's not to blame for the result.

In the seventy ninth minute the Harriers nearly got an equaliser thanks to more tireless hard work by Nick Wright on the right hand side.  He won the ball from the diminutive left back Paul Stonehouse and came inside with the ball, cutting it back to Marc Williams who perhaps should've got his second goal in as many games but put the ball the wrong side of the post.

Ten minutes later and it was definitely all over in terms of a comeback for the Harriers as Rob Duffy scored following Medley on the left side of the penalty area being completely unchallenged and having the time to dink the ball in towards a diving Rob Duffy who got a good connection on the ball and took it past Lewis to seal the win for The Stags.

The result wasn't a good one but the performance meant we got exactly what we deserved.  Firstly the defence was, again, shown to be far from adequate and, yes, there are people who say the team is yet to gel and whilst that is true some of the errors today from Albrighton, Briscoe and Briggs were absolutely astounding for a side that beat York on the first day.

Both of the centre backs were poor against a good attacking side and the game was screaming for Sharpe to be introduced with a fresh pair of eyes and legs to anticipate the situation and have an effect.  Instead Burr introduced all attacking players in Matt Blair and Marc Williams.  What would he have lost by getting Sharpe on?  We need a dominant 6ft 5 centre back to have a 'presence' and just win nine out of ten headers.

The midfield went missing, there was a severe lack of movement, and the penetrating passes that were seen on Tuesday night had left the side completely which didn't help our cause for goals and its frustrating because it's a talented side.

Briggs isn't a bad player, neither is Briscoe or Shaw who were less than impressive.  There is a lot of potential for good attacking passing football on the 'deck' to be played and it wasn't done today.  Hopefully when John Finnegan returns this will be rectified and we can again kick on and hopefully do something this season because I do believe that for all the shortcomings we have our attack of Marc Williams (if he stays past his initial spell) and Nick Wright are very promising and potent.  If they get the right ammunition they could be firing in goals left right and centre.

Man of the match for me was Marc Williams.  When he came on we had a creative buzz up front and he was one of few players on the park with a spark and a will to score and do well.  He could be a massive player for us even in the next three months never mind if he stays after which would be even better based on what I've seen in the last two games.

Next up is Wrexham away on Tuesday night and if our defence have th same problems again as they did today then they wont know what's hit them.  Andy Mangan and Andy Morrell should be more than a handful for whoever is picked out of Briscoe, Albrighton or Sharpe.  However, if we start at the basics, the football on the floor and establish our midfield again then there's no reason that we shouldn't give 'The Red Dragons' something to worry about.

Keep the faith.
  FT: 1 - 3

 Goal for Harriers: Shaw 8 (pen)
 Goals for Mansfield: Medley 54, Connor 57, Duffy 90


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Harriers  subs   cards      Mansfield Town  subs   cards 
Lewis     Marriott  
M Briscoe     Silk  
Mike Williams     Stonehouse  
Byrne     Mills  
Shaw     Foster  
Albrighton   C Smith  
Hankin     L Briscoe  
Briggs     Thompson
Wright     Connor gif  
McPhee gif     Parker gif  
Gittings gif     A Smith gif  
SUBS:       SUBS:    
Stevens     Collett  
Griffiths     Sandwith gif  
Sharpe     Naylor  
Blair gif     Duffy gif  
Marc Williams gif     Medley gif  

REFEREE:
Mr A Heywood
West Yorkshire





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