The Harriers said goodbye to the only silverware they could have won last season when they went down to an early Stourbridge goal in this disappointing cup final carried over from last season. Hopefully playing this game (if we reach the final again) as a curtain raiser to the coming season makes more sense than playing it in the middle of winter and the very healthy crowd of 2021 bears that out.
With what looked to be an almost full strength side kicking off for us we started tentatively and it remained that way throughout the first half. At the back two of our new signings, Exodus Geohaghon and Cheyenne Dunkley looked less that comfortable and both were continually caught out in possession and when trying to defend against the small and nippy Stourbridge forwards. Dunkley in particular could come unstuck if he continues his tendency to take slight retaliations when beaten.
Stourbridge had already given fair warning before the eighth minute when the scored. This time Geohaghon was slow turning in time to stop Stuart Hendries' shot from well outside the area thumping back off the post for Sam Rock to smash the ball home with Dunkley too slow to react to the returning ball.
The Harriers did gather themselves up following the goal but the visitors still managed to break through our flimsy defence too often to give us any confidence in their abilities when the season gets underway at Lincoln next Saturday. Our strikeforce looked bereft of ideas too with only Ryan Rowe, playing as a lone striker against his former club, showing any kind of threat.
Apart from some chances for us that flew over the bar we failed to get a shot on target throughout the entire first half.
HT: Harriers 0 Stourbridge 1
The second half was better, far better.
Steve Guinan came on in place of Danny Pilkington, giving Rowe someone to play alongside, and Mickey Demetriou in place of Dunkley, giving us far more of a defensive safety net at the back while also giving us a better attacking option down the flanks.
Rowe was the first to attempt a comeback when he headed just wide of the post then Guinan took a shot on goal, our first, that the Glassboys keeper just managed to turn around the post. The best move of the game came from Demetriou when he skipped past some Stourbridge defenders and sent in a shot that cannoned off the joint of the post and bar and back out to be cleared upfield.
Minutes later we had another shot, this time cleared off the line when Paul McCone backed up his beaten keeper to head Geohaghons header away to safety. Minutes later another shot went over off the bar while Ricky Shakes and Ryan Rowe saw their shots go a little higher into the stand.
With time running out we had one more chance through a sharp shot from Guinan but even with five minutes added time it wasn't going to be and Stourbridge took the well deserved honours of the County Trophy and the applause of their noisy fans. And a chicken.
FT: Harriers 0 Stourbridge 1
Lewis, Dunkley (Demetriou), Geohagon, Austin, Williams, Shakes, Vincent, Briggs (Storer), Pilkington (Guinan), Rowe, Johnson.
N Vaughan, Gittings.
Solly, Lloyd, Griffiths, Rock (Dyson), McCone, Bennett, Hendrie (Ward), Geddes, Turton (Dovey), Billingham, Canavan.
Photo © Harriers Online