Harriers Online. The wonderful world of Kidderminster Harriers

A fans view. 15

End of season review - 07-08....
..by Harry211...28-05-08

Season 07/08 had a lot of build up.  The season before we had suffered the heartbreak of losing the FA Trophy final in the dying minutes to Stevenage, despite the loss we had made some decent signings in the summer such as Justin Richards, who was the top scorer in the league two seasons before we signed him, for Woking.  We hoped that alongside James Constable, Justin would be able to bang in the goals to get us up.

Apart from this signing, we had the bulk of last seasons Trophy finalist squad and we all had high expectations that we would do well.

Our first game of the season was against eventual Conference winners, Aldershot Town.  The ground was more full that usual with an attendance of 1976.  After two goals by Aldershot courtesy of Grant and Davies and Mark Creighton's goal not enough to get us to muster a comeback, we lost our opening game of the season for the second year in a row.

Justin Richards Our next game was three days later away at our most local club, Stafford Rangers.  Our new signing from the summer Justin Richards scored twice and Gavin Hurren got the third goal to send the travelling Harriers fans home happy.  The following two games saw us give two atrocious performances.

First Grays slotted 5 past Scott Bevan and then in the following game our fellow finalists from the season before, Stevenage, won 2-0.  This result saw us sink to 17th in the table and although early in the season, to lose to Grays by 4 goals wasn't a good sign.  Clearly the players had seen that their performances weren't good enough and in the following game we beat our rivals Rushden 1-0 at Nene Park.

On the back of this, we had Exeter City travelling to Aggborough for the first meeting between the two sides for this season.  Memories of Mark Yates and Lee Elam's clash the season before were still in the fans minds and we all wanted to beat them to 'get one over' on Elam as well as moving up the table along the way.  The game was one of the best home displays in seasons with us winning 4-0, Constable hitting his first Hat Trick for us and Russell Penn scoring his second goal in as many games.  This game also saw the return of Harriers legend, Dean Bennett which made the occasion all the more sweeter.

We weren't able to build on the win as in the next game we drew 1-1 to Conference new boys Farsley.  Following this was another breathtaking performance but this time vs York City where we won 3-0 with Richards bagging two more goals for us.  After that we had to visit Ebbsfleet Utd, formerly Gravesend.  Harriers lost 5-4 and even a Jimmy Constable hat trick could not stop Ebbsfleet.

The following Tuesday we had the visit of Droylsden who the season before, we tonked 5-1 in the FA Cup.  This time we weren't as fortunate goal wise but still won 3-1 and Dean Bennett had a superb goal turned down for offside.

After that was the infamous Torquay game.  Due to the injury of both our keepers Scott Bevan and our backup keeper Dean Coleman we saw the debut of Chris Mackenzie on loan from Shrewsbury.  To say he had a mare, would be a nice thing to say.  He was awful.

The first goal, although a fluke, the fault should lie directly in the hands of Mackenzie after Jonny Harkness went to clear the ball, and it fell to Hinshelwood's foot.  From 50 yards out he hit it and it flew straight over the backpeddling Mackenzie who happened to be 20 or 25 yards from his goal lines.  The second goal was a free kick that Mackenzie flapped at and Sills made no mistake in heading it into the net.

James Constable For the third goal Mackenzie failed to come off his line to intercept a long goal kick by Rayner.  Three faults, three goals.  Despite the goal difference we sensed that it was possible to get back and after the break the Harriers turned it up to 11.  The chants of Barmy Army and the great escape filled Aggborough as Constable scored two more goals but it was not enough as Torquay scored another two to put the game beyond doubt.

The fans still chanted even when 5-2 down and can not have any blame placed at them for not creating an atmosphere.

After that we beat Salisbury 1-0 away and drew the next two games 1-1 to sit firmly in midtable.  After a win against Halifax and two losses against Histon and Weymouth respectively we faced Vauxhall Motors in the FA cup first round.

We had two games against them last season in the Trophy so we knew all about them.  Despite an early goal, to see them leading at half time, we won 3-1 with Michael McGrath having possibly the best game we have ever seen him have.

After this, we had the best game we have played in years at Burton Albion, out doing the 4-0 vs Exeter earlier in the season by a shadow of a doubt, we started with 4-5-1 which is strange for Kiddy but we firmly dispatched them with goals from Penn and Bignot.

Next to play us was Ware in the FA Cup.  A team that was more than a few divisions below us played well to their credit but we still beat them with a Blackwood free kick and a Constable drive.  The game after we drew 1-1 to Woking with this being our first game on Setanta.  A late goal from Woking gave them a share of the points following a Justin Richards penalty.  Subsequently we lost against Oxford 2-0 and then sadly in the FA cup 2nd round against Dagenham.

The Setanta cameras were there for our next home game against Cambridge United.  Although they dominated the game, Daryl Knights ran the game for them, we beat them thanks to a possible offside goal from Iyseden Christie.

Simon Russell Our FA Trophy campaign got underway the next game, at Northern side Guisley.  Following a late postponement due to fog Penn and Harkness made sure we had a clean passage into the next round.  Next up was Hinckley in the Setanta cup.  We won 2-1 with a under strength side.

The next two games we drew, and then on New Years Day we faced our bogey side, Forest Green Rovers, who we had never beaten before.  Thanks to Harriers stalwart Simon Russell we won 1-0.  We then travelled to York and drew 2-2 after taking an early two goal lead through Christie but then went and lost 2-1 to Altrincham in the game after, a game that was on the verge of being abandoned after electric storms swept over Manchester.

Next up was the Trophy game at Weymouth which we drew yet again 0-0 forcing a replay back at Aggy a week and 3 days later but then made up for that by beating Farsley 2-1 back at Aggborough.  The following game saw us suffering the heartbreak of losing yet another penalty shootout, this time to Weymouth after drawing 2-2 in normal time and losing 3-0 on penalty kicks.

Wholesale changes were about to be made to the side.  Yates realised the need for a new left back and brought in Frenchman Alex Jeannin on loan from Oxford and he arrived just in time to gift Droylsden a goal and eventually the game.

On the last day of January it appeared to all fall apart to the fans.  In the space of two hours we had lost the backbone of our squad after James Constable and Scott Bevan left to join Shrewsbury, Richards and Blackwood were Oxford bound and Stuart Whitehead had his contract terminated to join AFC Telford.  In return we got Matt Bailey from Wolves, Luke Jones for a month from Shrewsbury not forgetting the small matter of 'Calamity' Chris Mackenzie joining until the end of the season.  Also joining was Darryl Knights from Yeovil who ran the game for Cambridge against us earlier in the season.

After possibly one of the worst nights in KHFC transfer history, Yates' head was yet again being called for and there were allegations of the board asset stripping the club and getting ready to run.

We proceeded to lose the next five games to make Yates' life harder and harder by the week, the fans continuing to call for his head and the number of them growing by the week.  Something had to happen and it did.  On the 4th of March, a Tuesday night, we played host to Stafford Rangers.  The legendary Wolves striker Steve Bull had recently taken over at Marston Rd so they had had new encouragement by somebody who was a bigger name than anybody in the league or the one above.  With an attendance of only 1240, there were people staying away and choosing to save their money we came out of the game 6-0 victors with Russell and Christie both getting two, Knights and Matty Barnes Homer (Sponsored by Friends of Harriers Online) scoring a penalty.  After that Knights struck again this time against Grays.  The mini run came to an end against Stevenage away but Iyseden Christie managed to bag a consolation goal although we had lost the use of Luke Jones when he was recalled to Shrewsbury while on the team coach to Hertfordshire.

After the Stevenage game we failed to lose once in eight games in the league with high scoring victories against Crawley and Halifax away, credit being given largely to the new formation 4-3-1-2 with Knights being provider and scorer on many occasions.  Bennett in midfield now played a different role to the one of old, the once attacking player had been playing a defensive 'Makalele' role in the centre of the park.  The run came to an end at the Wessex stadium as the Harriers lost 2-1 against a gutsy Weymouth side.

The final home game of the season was against a highflying Burton Albion side that were chasing a playoff place.  Expectations were to get a tight win but we came out of the game having scored four goals and Darryl Knights having possibly his best game in front of the Harriers fans.  Knights scored two and set up one for Christie to continue his goal scoring run of 8 goals in 9 games to take him to our top scorers charts and prove many fans wrong.

The season came to a climax at Woking where we lost 3-0 and it was all over another season wrapped up.

Darryl Knights The close season has in some ways been surprising and in some ways what the fans had wanted and expected for a while.  Jeff Kenna has left for the managers job at Irish side Galway United.  Johnny Harkness finally left the Harriers for Linfield and it was announced that Blackwood would not be coming back.  Jon Munday is another player who won't be reporting back for next season after getting released along with Gavin Hurren who was solid at the back during the backend of the season.  Chris Mackenzie also left and, despite having an appalling debut, played well at times.  Brian Smikle and Dean Coleman were offered and signed new contracts to the surprise of some fans with some areas of the support deeming the duo, not good enough for what we want to achieve next season.

Some fans grew nervous about the lack of signings whilst other clubs were snapping up players left right and centre until, on the 27th of May, the fans were stunned.  It was a well known fact that we were after Luke Jones and Darryl Knights permanently but unlikely and uncertain whether we would get both of them.  It was announced that we did and they'll join up with us in July.  Our final signing for the day (At time of writing) was Adam Bartlett, a keeper who is first choice for the England C team and is widely regarded as one of the best non-league goalkeepers.  We signed him on a free transfer from Blyth Spartans much to the appreciation and relief of the Harriers fans.  Also announced that day was that Andy Ferrell had signed a new contract.

The team appears to be shaping up and if we can repeat the same performances next season that we did in the later stages of the campaign we could be onto a winner.

But, that's something to be seen next season.

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