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Harriers 2 Chester FC 2

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Date: 25-08-14gif Venue: Aggboroughgif att: 2304gif away fans: 397
Harriers throw three points away following a red card for Dunkley

gif Report by Philip Lench
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!
  HT: 2 - 0
Within a minute or the second half starting it was obvious that Steve Burr had inserting a rocket up his teams backsides and they came out all guns blazing.  With their first attack the ball was played into the area and cleared but only straight at Hobson who struck a shot goalwards.  Dunkley stupidly put out his hand to block the ball and the referee rightly pointed straight to the spot and brandished the dreaded red card a second later.  Dunkley marched off for an early bath.

The former Stoke, Wolves and Burnley striker Chris Iwelumo opted to take the spot kick but struck it too softly on the wet grass and it was an easy save for Danny Lewis, much to the relief of the fans.  It was aafter that save when it all went wrong for the Harriers.

The major part of the half was then played with Chester passing the ball around un-hindered and the Harriers not having the nous or inclination to go forward and score.  We were content to soak it all up and hold onto our two goal lead.  It was never going to work.

Well it did but only up until ten minutes from the end.

First Craig Hobson headed the ball home from a Danny Taylor cross and then two minutes later they had got the draw we seemed happy to hand to them on a plate.  With the Chester fans now in full voice, urging their side on, a free kick was gifted them by Kyle Storer on the edge of the area, for which he got booked, and was played in to Gareth Roberts to strike the bar with a strike that then rebounded back towards Wayne Riley to slam home.

Instead of being in third place tonight the Harriers find themselves down to tenth and that is only down to one person.  Not Dunkley for the red card.  Not Danny Lewis for letting two goals in.  Not to the team being forced to play too deeply for forty five minutes.  No, it's down to a defensively minded manager team that doesn't have a Plan B when it comes to building on what we have but thinking that the option is only to sit back and contain.

With Dunkley now missing for the trip to Dover next weekend it's obvious that Grimes will play in his place.  So what will happen up front or will we be going there for a nil nil draw too?

  FT: 2 - 2

 Goals for Harriers: Gittings 6, Dunkley 9
 Goals for Chester: Hobson 81, Riley 83


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gif Callum Gittings



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Harriers  goals   subs   cards      Chester FC  goals   subs   cards 
Lewis     Hall  
Hodgkiss     Taylor  
Nicholson     Roberts  
Storer   Kay  
Gowling     Brown
Dunkley gif   Harrison  
Byrne     Hobson gif  
Johnson gif     James gif  
Blissett gif     Iwelumo gif  
Reid gif     Rooney  
Gittings gif     McConville
SUBS:         SUBS:      
Singh     Worsnop  
Gash gif - 63     Winn gif - 59  
Styche     Riley gif gif - 78  
Grimes gif - 47     Blake  
Verma gif - 59     Heneghan  

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