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Date: 16-02-16 gif Venue: The World Of Smiles Stadium gif att: 3387 gif away fans: 419
Harriers mini-revival stutters

gif Report: Phil Lench
With the odds stacked against them the Harriers, and their fans, went down to table toppers Cheltenham Town hoping to see a continuation of their mini-revival of three straight wins.  Sadly it wasn't to be although the team not quite propping up the rest of the division didn't disgrace themselves.

Even with an unchanged side from the one that beat Macclesfield last Saturday it was going to be a big ask and so it proved.  Appearing for Cheltenham were two former Harriers in Danny Wright and Kyle Storer while for us Keith Lowe was a regular for them a few years ago before joining York City.  Although the appearance of cloud made the evening warmer it was still chilly with a bit of a breeze as both teams kicked off.

It appears that we won the toss because we elected to kick the 'wrong' way towards our own fans while the home side tried the audacious tactic of booting the ball straight at Dean Snedker in the Harriers goal.  He wasn't falling for that and scooped the ball up easily.

From then on the game was a cagey affair with neither side showing why they are where they are :) Cheltenhams tactics of hoofing the ball over the top to Wright and Dan Holman wasn't what you would expect from a side at the top of the table while the Harriers tippy tappy football wasn't enough to get past a solid Cheltenham defence but made us look much better than our lowly twenty third spot.

Ty Williams came the closest to scoring first for the Harriers when his shot went off target after good build up play from Luke Maxwell and Arthur Gnahoua.  A few minutes later Holman - forever getting caught offside - sent his shot well wide without troubling Snedker then Ben Whitfield tried the same and he too was wide.

Our best chance of the half fell for Gnahoua when, just before the break, he went on one of his mazy runs avoiding outstretched feet but once in a good position he chose to shoot rather than pass to the better placed Whitfield and White and shot weakly at the keeper.

Overall we had looked good enough to crack on in the second half with some neat play but lacking the final ball into the area or opting to pass the ball to someone better placed.  The hosts, on the otherhand, tended to rely on the long ball too much which enabled them to break quickly but the imperious partnership of Kelvin Langmead and Keith Lowe in the centre of our defence mopped up most of the aerial attack proffered.
  HT: 0 - 0
We were hoping for better in the second half but sadly we failed.  Cheltenham upped their game by closing us down better with Whitfield and Ousmane Fané the main target but continued the high ball routine that allowed Wright and Holman the chances to get behind us.  It was from one such attack that their goal arrived.

An attack had given them a corner that was taken by James Dayton.  The ball came over and Ty Williams appeared to handle the ball after possibly receiving a push in the back while at the same time the ball then also hit an outstretched Cheltenham hand.  The referee, Mr Inconsistency, pointed immediately to the spot and ignored the Harriers claims for the two infringements in our favour.

As expected Danny Wright took the spot kick and blasted it neatly beyond Snedker before turning round to celebrate in front of the Harriers fans.  A bit different to James Constables muted response in scoring twice for Eastleigh at Aggborough a week ago.

A few more minutes and it was game over.  Slightly lax defending allowed James Rowe to cross the ball into the area towards the lurking Holman near the byeline.  You don't give strikers of his calibre the sight of goal and he glanced his header in at the near post with Snedker poorly positioned at the other end of the goal.

We tried to rally but the home side closed up the shop for the day and although we battled hard we hadn't got the freedom or nous to break them down.  Evan Garnett came on in place of Zaine Francis-Angol but to me seems too lightweight and out of his depth to have made any difference.

A few chances fell the way of Whitfield and White but we were too weak in our shooting and failed to really trouble Dillon Phillips in goal.  Cheltenham were so relaxed about it all that they sent on a triple substitution seven minutes from the end to give them a bit of a warm up runaround.  They failed, or didn't bother, to threaten our goal any further while we had a chance two minutes from the end when we had probably the best shot of the game when Harry White forced Phillips to tip his blazing shot over the bar when it looked to all that we would be getting a consolation goal.

By the end the result was as expected, and as it should be, given the difference in our fortunes and at least we have the comfort of knowing that at least we can now compete whereas a month ago we would have been looking at a 6-0 mauling or more.

Chester at home for us this coming Saturday and a winnable one too in our quest to escape the bottom four even if they did win 3-0 at Altrincham tonight.
  FT: 2 - 0

 Goals for Cheltenham: Wright 50 (pen), Holman 57


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Cheltenham Town  goals   subs   cards      Harriers  goals   subs   cards 
Phillips     Snedker  
Barthram     Hodgkiss  
McLennan     Francis-Angol gif  
Storer     Maxwell  
Dayton gif     Langmead  
Parslow     Lowe  
Burgess     Fané  
Hall gif   Williams  
Wright gif     White  
Holman gif     Whitfield  
Rowe gif     Gnahoua  
SUBS:         SUBS:      
Kitscha     Brown  
Waters gif - 83     Garnett gif - 71  
Munns gif - 83     Patrick  
Cranston gif - 83     Jones  
Lymm     McQuilkin  

REFEREE:
Mr O Yates
Staffordshire




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