As widely expected the Harriers lost at home to promotion chasing Bristol Rovers today but did manage to hold on until just after halftime before conceding the first of their eventual three goals. In the corresponding game at the Memorial Stadium in November we took the home side all the way with a top quality display that earned a standing ovation from the following Harriers fans. Today was so much different.
In the interim period between November and April we have seen that team dismantled by a board that got us into this mess and now couldn't give a damn about the way we feel or the way our team is going. The sad thing though is that the Harriers manager Gary Whild is quickly falling into the same trap. We can understand, and have called for, young players to be given a chance to show what they can do now that our season has all but ended but why play an on loan player, who won't be leaving his club, at full back when we have the experienced Kevin Nicholson sat on the bench wasting his time and ours? If it really is because he's played too many games, and his playing will trigger a new contract, then let the contract be triggered. I don't want to see my club become a joke.
We started the game with just six older heads, Danny Wright, Lee Hughes, Jared Hodgkiss, Callum Gittings, Jamie Grimes and Danny Lewis were augmented by loanees and Academy players. George Boyle (on loan from Huddersfield and staying with them) came in at left back to allow Hodgkiss to revert back to his natural right side while on the bench for the first time was George Forsyth, the son of Harriers legend Richard. James Fry moved from that spot to the number four position vacated by Aman Verma due to his injury.
The Rovers manager, Darryl Clarke, opted to play former Harrier Nathan Blissett from the start alongside another who usually starts from the bench, Ellis Harrison. Their leading scorer Matty Taylor was on the bench.
The first half was an even affair between two poor sides using the height of the sky to good effect. Rovers tended to use the experienced Adam Dawson up against Boyle and ten times out of ten Dawson won the battle. In the middle of the park we had no one capable of putting a foot on the ball so we basically had to watch extra terrestrial ping pong.
It was a game of very few clear cut chances with our only attempt on goal in the first period falling for the veteran Lee Hughes but he shot well wide and weakly. He would have buried a chance like that a few years ago. We had another chance that also went wide later on when Jake Green, playing against his former club, also steered one wide.
For Rovers Blissett was a menace, as he was with us, but never really achieved much when he got the chance. He is still the same with Rovers. He should have scored in the tenth minute but his shot from a Harrison cross went well wide too.
Midway through the half Hughes had another chance to open the scoring for us but when he tried to get the ball around the advancing Will Puddy he again sent the ball wide. Towards the end of the first forty five minutes Rovers began to apply the pressure with a shot from Ellis Harrison pushed around the post by Lewis while Blissett had a header tipped onto the bar by the Harriers custodian. Lewis wasn't in the most confident of form today and dropped the first of many balls into the box that he was to do later in the game. This time he dropped Harrisons header and just managed to reclaim the ball before another striker came sliding in to try and force it over the line.
And so the half ended with the sun streaming down on the crowd of 4229.