The Harriers lost the first leg of this seasons play off games at Wrexham this evening to a goal from a player that, by all rights, should never have been on the pitch in the first place. The fact that Dave Artell was there was a flagrant flouting of the English FA rules for club that choose to play in England but under Welsh FA rules when it suits them.
Artell had been sent of last Saturday in the closing stages of the final game of the season at Mansfield when he went in head height on one of the opposition and was instantly red carded. That would have meant that he would miss the next three games and effectively put an end to his season. The Welsh FA, seeing yet another chance to bend rules to suit their own clubs, overturned the English FA's decision and said that although the red card stands he wouldn't have to miss any games and that the stress to himself of trying to decapitate someones head was punishment enough.
Now if the English FA had any balls they would overturn this ludicrous decision as soon as possible and re-instate the ban immediately. Problem is we have no balls in this country anymore!
The game itself started with Wrexham fielding a full first team squad after suffering many injuries in recent weeks. There were nine changes to the side that fell to defeat at Mansfield giving you the impression that the treatment room must be equipped with state of the art medical science to get so many players fit again in such short space of time.
We started the game with the same starting eleven that had beaten Stockport 4-0 in a controversial game at Aggborough the previous weekend. In a similar scenario we also started the game slowly and out of sorts with a lack of urgency and passing skills that gave the onlooker queasy feelings about the way this game was going to end.
Wrexham were no better and the opening twenty minutes of the game was scrappy and disjointed until player/boss Andy Morrell tried his luck from distance but the ball going well over the bar into the home fans behind the goal. Artell also sent one well over the bar two minutes later and in between Chey Dunkley headed narrowly wide for the visitors.
Michael Gash was the first on the pitch to get anything like a real chance but his well struck shot was saved equally well by Chris Maxwell in the Wrexham goal. The home side then forced our keeper into a similar stop when the former Blackpool striker Brett Ormerod stopped tried his luck from the edge of the area.
The Harriers were struggling to make any impact on the game, poor passing was the main blame for that, and should have been a goal down when the ball struck James Vincent on the arm in the area but the referee waved away the Wrexham appeals. A few minutes later Vincent went off injured to be replaced by Keith Briggs.
With the minutes ticking down to half time it looked as if the teams would be going into the break all square. That was until that goal by Artell gave an ironic twist to Wrexhams use of the 'get out of jail free' card.
Ormerod collected the ball out wide and chipped it over the head of Danny Lewis. He was in two minds whether or not to jump for it and chose not to only to see his decision punished at the far post as Artell used his bulk to force the ball home with his considerably sized forehead.
Also, ironically, Artell was booked for celebrating the goal after he ran to the corner and kicked the flag over. Hold on a minute: we have a player who shouldn't even be on the pitch because of an earlier red card now getting booked for scoring? You couldn't make it up!
The whistle blew soon after and the Harriers trooped off with their heads down to await the lambasting they were surely going to get from Steve Burr in the dressing room.