On a bright mild October day, reminiscent of the start of October in the previous year when record temperatures were recorded, Kidderminster Harriers' paid a visit to the Stonebridge Road Ground for this important tie in the Blue Square Premier league relegation battle with Ebbsfleet United. Harriers, languishing just above the drop zone, were coming off a run of seven games unbeaten but unfortunately only two of those games had produced wins for the boys from Worcestershire.
Harriers took the field with the same 4-3-3 formation that they had started with against Macclesfield the previous week. It was the same back four of Mickey Demetriou, Josh Gowling, Cheyenne Dunkley and Lee Vaughan. In midfield, alongside Keith Briggs and Jamie Vincent, in came Adam Watkins for his first start - Callum Gittings taking up a place on the bench having suffered in the week with a nagging injury. Up front were Nathan Blissett, Ryan Rowe and Anthony Malbon. Nathan Vaughan had also been playing well enough to cling on to the goalkeeper's jersey. Richard Peniket was back on the bench after returning from mother club Fulham, clear of a groin strain while Marvin Johnson was the unfortunate player to miss out completely, having been injured in training as a result of a Lee Vaughan tackle.
Ebbsfleet welcomed Craig Stone and Liam Bellamy back into the fold but there was no place for Phil Walsh nor Neil Barrett. The Fleet fans got their first sight of Louie Soares at Stonebridge Road and they would have been impressed with the on-loan Grimsby wide man as he was the most creative player as Fleet enjoyed a good opening spell of play.
Both sides were desperate for all three points but it was the home side that began by putting Harriers under plenty of early pressure and inside the first three minutes Moses Ashikodi powered into the box and set up Nathan Elder. Fortunately for Harriers Cheyenne Dunkley intervened just in time as the former Hereford loanee was getting ready to pounce. Six minutes later Joe Howe made his way through the Harriers defence and his ball into the box fell to Tom Phipp who forced Nathan Vaughan into a smart save.
The Harriers keeper was in great form again but he would have had no chance in preventing Elder heading the Fleet in front. Unfortunately the tall striker sent Stone's inviting cross just over the bar when well placed. Then on eighteen minutes Vaughan again spoiled another good Fleet attack when Liam Bellamy managed to get behind the Harriers defence and attempted to place an effort around the keeper but Vaughan pushed it wide.
Harriers weren't there as mere spectators however and twice we sent balls across the goal with the first headed narrowly wide by Anthony Malbon and the second was hit low and just wide by Ryan Rowe. Ebbsfleet were still well in command and Soares again fired low towards the post, with Vaughan parrying the ball to safety for a corner.
Against the run of play the goal then came the way of the visiting team. The powerful Nathan Blissett charged through the middle and laid an excellently timed ball off to Malbon who fired home past Preston Edwards.
Unfortunately however, the lead lasted only six minutes for the Harriers. Fleet forced a corner and from it Elder rose high above the static Harriers defence to send a bullet of a header flying into the net for his sixth goal of the season. That's at least the third time this season so far that Harriers have conceded a goal as a result of a header following a corner - Dartford, Cambridge and again now at Ebbsfleet.
After conceding the goal the visitors sought to exploit the Fleets eagerness to add a second goal and right on half-time Burr's men had three shots in quick succession from Malbon, Rowe and Briggs as the ball bounced around the home box before Ram Marwa cleared the ball to safety upfield.
The hosts had one more chance to score just before halftime when Howe again found open space down the left and fired into a packed penalty area. The Harriers managed to scramble the ball clear before an Ebbsfleet man could get on the end of the ball.