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AFC Telford Utd 1 Harriers 1

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Date: 04-04-15gif Venue: The New Bucks Head Stadiumgif att: 1773gif away fans: 265
Harriers seal the fate of Telford

gif Report by Phil Lench
It fell to the Harriers to relegate their neighbours Telford, and our only real local derby, down to the Conference North today with this lacklustre draw at the Bucks Head Stadium.  Following a deathly, scoreless first half the game kind of burst to life with two goals midway through the second half but whatever the result was going to be, win or lose, Telford were doomed by other results and that there are now four more games to go until the end of the season.

Before the game came the news that Lee Hughes was going to miss the game through illness and with Jack Byrne already missing through injury there were bound to be some changes to the starting eleven.  As expected Gary Whild, the Harriers manager, was going to continue with the policy of blooding young Academy players and so it was with Jordan Harrison stepping into the Hughes shoes.  Luke Maxwell came in for Byrne.

On the bench again was Kevin Nicholson and you have to seriously wonder if his time with the Harriers is now at an end.  Also on the bench was the on loan William Boyle from Huddersfield but both Keyon Reffell and Ahmed Obeng were missing with the former also out with illness.

As befits an end of season game between two struggling sides it took a while to see anything of note and even longer to remember anything of note.  I vaguely remember Danny Wright getting his head to the ball early doors, a rare occurrence in itself, and sending it over the bar but it was Callum Gittings that was getting the better of the chances to score with some neat running off the ball to get into space but then seeing the ball go out of reach.  He did get one good chance with a shot from outside the area but the Telford keeper James Montgomery was equal to it.  Montgomery is the grandson of the former Sunderland goalkeeper Jim Montgomery who made FA Cup history when Sunderland beat Leeds 1-0 in the 1973 final with help from his stunning one handed save.

Telford looked haunted by the prospect of relegation and it showed with some nervous football from them.  Their only chance of the first half came Adam Farrells way when his free kick tested Danny Lewis in the Harriers goal.

Thirty one minutes in and the Harriers were forced into an unwanted change when Aman Verma limped off after extensive treatment.  He was replaced by Academy youngster Kennedy Digie but it was the Academy debutant Harrison that was to find the net five minutes from the end of the first half with a prod of the ball into the net but, sadly, the goal was ruled out for offside by the finnicky linesman at the far end.
  HT: 0 - 0
We long suffering fans have come to expect strange substitutions from our management duo of Gary Whild and Mark Creighton this season and so it continued just five minutes after the re-start today.  Jordan Harrison, who just a few minutes earlier had got the ball into the net to crown a decent debut, found himself withdrawn from the game to be replaced by Akwase Asanti.  Maybe it was the need for a bit more muscle up front but I thought that was Danny Wrights job?

Before the change Telford had come out with an obvious ear blasting and two attempts to score through Adam Farrell that were dealt with easily.  Following the change Wright had a shot on goal go over the bar while Asanti struck one softly and wide.

With Telford now looking more confident, and the Harriers drawing into a shell, the home side struck with the goal that might save their league status.  Farrell sent over a cross from the right for their leading scorer, Tony Gray, to notch his sixteenth goal of the season with a deft header at the unguarded far post.

The goal didn't knock us back too much and we tried to draw level as quickly as we could.  Asante sent one well over the bar while a free kick in our favour was wasted after it was taken by an unlikely choice in Jamie Grimes, rather than Callum Gittings who was standing alongside, who sent it way over the bar.

We finally got back into the game against the run of play when a mistake by former Harrier, Sean Clancy, let in Gittings.  Callum pounced on his mistake and calmly advanced on goal, drawing the keeper out, then slotting it under him before the chasing back Clancy could get a foot in to stop it.

The Harriers pushed forward as Telford heads dropped and we could have wrapped up the points if we'd had a little more composure in front of goal.  Both Asante and Luke Maxwell should have done better with the opportunities they were given after both were easily blocked by Telford defenders.

The doomed home side tried a bit harder towards the end of the game with Lewis punching away a free kick but we held on for the point, even with just ten men after Digie went off injured and all our subs used.

We now face a big game at home to Bristol Rovers on Monday and if we play like this against them we don't stand an earthly.  If todays game had been watched by a neutral then he'd have thought he was watching two sides already relegated.
  FT: 1 - 1

 Goal for Telford: Gray 61
 Goal for Harriers: Gittings 78


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Latest table and stats here  

AFC Telford Utd  goals   subs   cards      Harriers  goals   subs   cards 
Montgomery     Lewis  
Disney     Fry  
Sharps     Hodgkiss  
N Byrne     Maxwell  
Reid gif     Grimes  
Poku gif     Kelly
Smith gif     Harrison gif  
Ventre   Gittings gif  
Farrell     Wright  
Gray gif     Verma gif  
Clancy     Green gif  
SUBS:         SUBS:      
Hall     Digie gif - 31  
McDonald     Boyle  
Grogan gif - 92     Spencer gif - 69  
Matthews gif - 58     Nicholson  
Dyer gif - 79     Asante gif - 51

REFEREE:
Mr A Holmes
West Yorkshire





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