The Harriers threw away an almost certain three points today in this game against struggling Chester. With the side two nil up in the first few minutes, and having spurned numerous other chances to score in a totally one sided first half, we then had Chey Dunkley dismissed for handball a few seconds into the second half, the penalty saved and relief on the fans faces. It all then went horribly wrong with some of the strangest, and inept, substitutions seen by a manager in living memory.
Obviously with a central defender being given his marching orders we needed to replace like with like and that was done correctly with Jamie Grimes coming on. The mistake made by Gary Whild was sacrificing Marvin Johnson and then minutes later throwing on two other substitutes in an equally bizarre move.
Johnson had been our most dangerous player, taking on the Chester fullback and beating him all ends up, and to replace him with a defender just did not make sense when the obvious choice would have been to remove a striker such as Nathan Blissett or Craig Reid leaving someone to supply the crosses to the lone striker. To then remove both Reid and Blissett a few minutes later and replace them with Aman Verma and Michael Gash leaving Gash all alone and no supply gave you the impression that once again Whild had gone the defensive route as he had previously done in the second half against Dartford and the whole of the game at Macclesfield.
It was never going to work and our 100% defensive record wasn't going to last either. Chester spent the whole of the second half passing the ball around neatly while we played it too deep and had our backs to the wall inviting them to come onto us.
We made Chester look world beaters when frankly they couldn't beat an egg. We got what we deserved and if Iwelumo had scored the penalty we could easily have lost this game 3-2 and there would have been no complaint.
We had started the game so promisingly with two changes to the side that drew at Macclesfield on Saturday. Jamie Grimes and Verma dropped to the bench for Jack Byrne and Callum Gittings to return to the starting line-up.
Within six minutes we had gone a goal up when, from Kyle Storers short corner, Kevin Nicholson crossed the ball into the area. Chey Dunkley got his head to it and sent it back to the near post for Craig Reid to shoot but it was bundled away by a Chester defender straight to Callum Gittings who made no mistake bundling the ball home for the opening goal.
Three minutes later and shell shocked Chester were picking the ball out of the net once more. This time a missed punch from their keeper Freddie Hall fell kindly for Dunkley to head home. It should have been three goals a minute after but Craig Reid blazed his shot over with only the keeper to beat when it would have made more sense to side foot it it past him.
We continued to dominate the game and should gone further in front again when another chance fell for Dunkley, from Marvin Johnsons cross, but it got cleared off the line by the Chester defender Danny Taylor. Johnson had a brilliant chance to crown his fine performance with a goal in the dying minutes of the half when his fierce strike was tipped over by Hall. Between those two chances Chester should have scored an unlikely goal when John Rooney played in Craig Hobson but the Chester striker sent his shot way over the bar.
The Harriers were so much on top it seemed that the second half would be a formality of scoring a few more goals, collecting the three points on offer and moving up to third place by nightfall. How wrong could we be!