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Wrexham 2 Harriers 1  Play offs 1st leg


Date: 23-04-13gif Venue: Glyndwr University Racecourse Stadiumgif att: 6315gif away fans: 547
Harriers fall to cruel penalty

gif Report by Philip Lench
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.
  HT: 1 - 0
The second half saw a massive improvement from us with the team talk seemingly working.  This time round we were taking the game to the home side and our passing was far crisper than it had been but it was Wrexham that got the first chance of the new half.

Again Ormerod was the instigator when he caught a half asleep Mickey Demetriou in possession on the edge of the box to play Johnny Hunt in with a chance that he put wide.  Dean Keates also sent a shot wide a minute later.  In fact it's hard to recall an on target shot on goal from any Wrexham striker all evening.  Thankfully.

Five minutes later and we got the goal that our improved game play deserved when we were awarded a penalty following the clattering of Anthony Malbon in the penalty area.  Martin Riley took his legs from under him as he tried to move the ball into a position to shoot from.

With the 547 Harriers fans knowing already what to expect from our penalty taking it was eyes covered time but we had nothing to worry about as Michael Gash stepped up to the oche and sent the ball into the centre of the goal with Maxwell diving after thin air.  The Harriers were now back on level terms and deservedly so.

The Harriers were now well in charge and running rampant trying to find a way through a solid Wrexham defence that, even with the expected lack of match fitness of their elderly squad, didn't intend to give the game up just yet.

It was the introduction of Martin Devaney for the quiet Marvin Johnson that really seemed to be the key to tilting the game our way.  His clever ball skills were too much to handle and from that we had two good chances to score via Danny Jackman and Gash.  The chance for Gash came following some brilliant juggling of the ball from Devaney and it was a shame that Gash couldn't have made more of the chance than he did.

Kyle Storer then saved our skins with a superb last ditch tackle to rob Ormerod of the ball as he broke free on goal with only Danny Lewis to beat.  The Wrexham fans roared for a free kick but then it is getting near the time for cuckoos to appear.

We went back on the offensive once more and started to pepper Maxwells goal with balls floated in and across the front of the goal but our strikers were either not quite getting there in time or not putting enough welly behind the ball to see it home.

Suddenly, against the run of play, Wrexham took the lead once more via a penalty of their own.

With time running down, and the Harriers looking to take Wrexham back to Aggborough all square, the home team broke into the Harriers box and crossed the ball for substitute Dele Adebola to knock down to Ormerod.  In the melee Josh Gowling just caught him and the referee pointed to the spot.  The kick was converted by Neil Ashton and sent the home fans into raptures and singing songs about going to Wembley and promotion.

Not just yet Taffy.  You have to come to Aggborough first.
  FT: 2 - 1

 Goals for Wrexham: Artell 45, Ashton 85 (pen)
 Goal for Harriers: Gash 57 (pen)

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Wrexham  goals   subs   cards      Harriers  goals   subs   cards 
Maxwell     Lewis  
S Wright     L Vaughan  
Ashton gif     Demetriou  
Keates     Storer
Artell gif   Dunkley  
Riley   Gowling  
Clarke     Jackman  
Harris     Vincent gif
Ormerod     Gash gif  
Morrell gif     Malbon  
Hunt   Johnson gif  
SUBS:         SUBS:      
Coughlin     N Vaughan  
Clowes     Williams  
Cieslewicz     Briggs gif  
Little     Devaney gif  
Adebola gif     Rowe  

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