Harriers 0 Shrewsbury Town 2
After battling hard against their League 1 neighbours the Harriers finally lost this game 2-0 after trailing for most of the game to a Shrewsbury goal scored by the amazingly named Jean-Louis Akpa-Akpro. The killer second goal was delivered by the hard working James Collins but the scoreline does not reflect the game as a whole.
For much of the game we matched the Shrews after having an early chance to take the lead through Reece Styche but he lobbed his chance over the bar after being set up nicely by Rob Taylor. The impressive Adam Dawson came much closer to scoring with his free kick that forced Leutwiler, the Shrews keeper, to tip the ball over the bar. Shrewsbury were having a job coping with the Harriers at this stage but they slowly got themselves into the game.
If we had Dawson they had Ryan Woods running the show for them with almost everything they did going through the small ginger headed midfielder. The man was a little dynamo.
We had another chance to open the scoring half way through the half when Dawson sent over a cross to the far post. Luke Maxwell was the first to it but his header went across the face of the goal and out to safety. Just after that came the goal.
Akpa-Akpro found himself in space on the edge of the box after the Harriers defenders failed to pick him up. His low shot took a slight deflection and wrong footed Dean Snedker to go into the net the wrong side of him. We came straight back at them and could so easily have pulled that goal back but a volley from Taylor went narrowly over the bar.
After the break the Harriers made a goalkeeper change with Snedker making way for Alex Palmer while the visitors made wholesale changes to their side with Connor Goldson, Sam Patterson, Jordan Clark, Liam McAlinden and former Harrier Mickey Demetriou coming on. Mickey D has just been placed on the transfer list after just one season with the Shrews with many Shrewsbury fans mystified with the reasoning behind sacrificing one of their best players from last season.
It was the visitors who were to start the strongest having finally got the measure of us in the first half. We didn't really rise to those heights again but we didn't play badly, just that they were a slightly different class to us.
James Collins should have increased their lead straight after the break with a shot that gave Palmer an early test but it went just wide of the post. We replied with a chance for Jordan Tunnicliffe after he was played in by Kelvin Langmead, formerly of Shrewsbury (and of the Harriers). Tunnicliffe got high the meet the corner ball with his head but it went just wide of the upright.
The best moment of the night came from the boot of Joe Clarke for the Harriers when he saw his chance for glory from twenty five yards out from goal. He smashed the ball goalwards and left the opposition keeper just staring at the bar shaking after the ball slammed against it and flew into the stand.
With fifteen minutes of the game to go Gary Whild began to change things around a bit but replacing quality players with lesser ones was never going to work and Shrewsbury took control of the game.
With ten minutes left to play Connor Goldson sent in a ball for Collins to meet with a well taken strike under the diving Palmer and into the net. The goal was inevitable really and a third could have followed soon after when Liam McAlinden forced Palmer into a great save and Jordan Clark, running in, couldn't quite connect to the rebound.
With the game over the Harriers hadn't disgraced themselves against their higher placed opponents and if we can build on that showing tonight we shouldn't do too badly in the coming season. Don't underestimate us Grimsby.
Snedker (Palmer), Hodgkiss, Langmead, Tunnicliffe (O'Hanlon), Rowe-Turner, Clarke, Verma (Reffell), Maxwell (Hales), Taylor (Singh), Styche (Reid), Dawson (Green).
Subs: Palmer, Singh, Reid, Hales, Green, Reffell, O'Hanlon.
Leutwiler, Tootle (Patterson), Sadler (Demetriou), R Woods (Lawrence), Ellis, Grandison (Goldson), Whalley (Clark), Ogogo (M Woods), Collins, Barnett (McAlinden), Akpa Akpro (Brown).
Subs: Clark, Burton, Goldson, Vernon, Patterson, McKnight, Brown, Demetriou, Lawrence, M Woods, McAlinden.
Att: 794 (227)
Ref: Mr W Barratt