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Forest Green Rovers 2 Harriers 3

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Date: 26-12-14gif Venue: The New Lawngif att: 2044gif away fans: 466
Harriers in a feast of festive goals

gif Report by Phil Lench
The Harriers, and their fans, had some great Boxing Day fun at a freezing cold New Lawn today when we returned back up the M5 with three points and three goals under our belts.  A well taken double from Aman Verma basically won us the game after conceding twice but getting those goals back within minutes.

With the news the other day that Josh Gowling would be out injured the fans were wondering who would be stepping into his big shoes.  The feelings before the game were that Kyle Storer would take over and Verma would come in for Josh but no one really believed that one of the new boys, Jordan Tunnicliffe, would be Gary Whilds choice.  As it was Tunnicliffe did well and, although looking a bit nervous, didn't put many feet wrong.

Up front was the strangest change with Craig Reid dropped to the bench and Reece Styche given the lone striker role with support from Verma, Marvin Johnson and Callum Gittings.  Styche didn't make the most of his chance and looked like a fish out of water at times.

For FGR Lee Hughes and the grossly overweight (people criticised Michael Gash and Anthony Malbon??) Jon Parkin were the main strike force and it was the former Harriers legend that gave the hosts the lead near the thirty minute mark with a beautiful flicked header that went in the other direction that Danny Lewis was going.  A typical goal from Hughesy that we have seen many times during his career.

We responded well with an equally good goal from Verma following good work from Kevin Nicholson.  His run and well flighted cross, from the left, to the far post landed perfectly on Vermas undefended head for him to power his header home beyond the reach of the groping Sam Russell.

Five minutes later and the Harriers had once more gone a goal behind.  This time hesitancy in the defence let in Parkin to slip the ball in for Elliott Frear with no one really getting a foot in.  From there it was just the small matter of Frear passing it on the the isolated James Norwood to crash the ball home from ten yards out.

Fear not, you can't keep a good team down.

With a minute to go until the half time bell up popped Jack Byrne (or should it be popped down?) stooping low at the far post to send Jared Hodkiss' cross into the back of the net to pull the Harriers level once again and to send both teams back to the dressing rooms all square.
  HT: 2 - 2
The second half commenced with a change to the Harriers ranks.  Callum Gittings, who hadn't been having the best of games and looked out of sorts, was replaced by Craig Reid.

Immediately we took the game to the Rovers and looked more threatening.  We sliced the Rovers defence apart numerous times in the first five minutes of the half without really getting a clear sight of goal though.

Ten minutes in and we had a moment similar to the sending off of Lincolns Alan Power last week.  Kyle Storer suddenly dropped to the floor as the ball was played to the other side of the pitch.  The referee walked over and with other players crowding round Storer he brandished a yellow card at Norwood first and then at Storer although it appeared to be Storer that was the aggrieved party.  The linesman then walked over and following a brief discussion the referee then booked Parkin.  Two observations arise and firstly why was Storer booked for being fouled and why wasn't a free kick given for the offence?

After that incident FGR regained control of the game for a spell and saw chances go begging for Rob Sinclair and Lee Hughes, the latter hitting the post with a fine drive that left Lewis fumbling fresh air.  Sam Wedgbury then fired a long range effort well over the bar in the sixty fifth minute.

Akwasi Asante came on midway through the half in place of Styche an that gave us the upfront presence that we had been waiting for even though he's not the fastest out of the starting blocks.  He does give us a strength that Styche will never have.  One of his first moves was to provide Verma with a header that the hero of day put into the back of the net but then found it ruled out for offside.  How the linesman picked out one offside player from the fifteen on the line I'll never know.

We were then almost gifted a goal by the Rovers keeper, Russell, after his wayward throw out only went as far as Marvin Johnson.  The in form wideman saw his chance and tried to lob him but he didn't lob it high enough and it dropped down too soon and Russell pushed it away for a corner.

Ten minutes from the end and we finally took the lead for the first time in the game.  Again Russell sent the ball upfield and again it came back to Johnson who then fed the unmarked Verma the ball and he made no mistake in sending the ball home although the Rovers complained hopelessly that Verma was offside.

We should have increased our lead late on when Johnson, now getting more room to 'strut his stuff' found space yet again but his shot from the edge of the box was again pushed away by the keeper but this time not for a corner.  Lee Hughes also came close to getting his side an equaliser but his header from a Marcus Kelly free kick went just the wrong (right!) side of the post.

Today was our fourth win in a row and takes us up into sixth place in the table.  We should be playing Southport at Aggborough on Sunday but after Worcester trashed the place today it's now looking very doubtful unles we can get the pitch repaired in time.

If not then our next game will be at home to the Rovers on New Years Day and no doubt the score will get reversed and they'll be going home the happier of the two.
  FT: 2 - 3

 Goals for FGR: Hughes 29, Norwood 39
 Goals for Harriers: Verma 34, 81, Byrne 44


The Harriers Online MotM is:

gif Aman Verma



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Latest table and stats here  

Forest Green Rovers  goals   subs   cards      Harriers  goals   subs   cards 
Russell     Lewis  
Pipe     Hodgkiss  
Coles gif     Nicholson  
Sinclair     Storer
Oliver     Grimes  
Frear     Tunnicliffe  
Norwood gif   Byrne gif gif  
Wedgbury     Johnson  
Parkin   Styche gif  
Kelly     Verma gif  
Hughes gif     Gittings gif  
SUBS:         SUBS:      
White     Mayebi  
Bennett     Reid gif - 46  
Racine     Green gif - 88  
Racine gif - 43     Obeng  
McGrory     Asante gif - 74  

REFEREE:
Mr C Hicks
Surrey




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