Whaddon Rd
att:  3718  away fans:  696
Extra info
  Guinan 53
  Bennett (og) 90
A first half performance that made us a class apart from Cheltenham.
The second half was a let down when we let them back into the game.
  harriers-online match report
Saturday 18th December 2004 
Not the result that we deserved

There were debuts for both of this weeks signings in this local derby.  Gary Birch, signed in mid week from Walsall, and Johnny Mullins, on loan from Reading were paraded in front of the Harriers faithful at a dreary looking Whaddon Rd.

Added to last weeks new faces of Simon Weaver and Chris Beardsley we were confronted by a team of strangers.  That's not how we played out the first half though.

The first forty five minutes was a feast of good football for us fans and it's a miracle that we didn't go into the break at least two goals to the good.

Right from the first blow on the referees whistle the Harriers were at the Robins.  In the third minute Dean Keates tested the ex Worcester keeper Shane Higgs with a free kick and then Simon Russell fed Gary Birch with a pin point pass that Birchy sent whizzing across the goal.  It only needed to have been a touch nearer the keeper for it to have gone in the net.

Pedro Matias was the next Harrier to come close to opening the scoring when Tom Bennett put an inch perfect ball onto his head but, although it was well aimed, Higgs saved it well.

Mullins was looking comfortable in defence and you can see why he's so highly rated at Reading.  He was cool on the ball and always made time for himself to deliver some superb passes.  Gary Birch was also having a good first game and his running off the ball and ability to get in the thick of things will go down well.

Cheltenham weren't getting a look in and it took them until the twenty fifth minute before they even got near to Ryan Clarke in the Harriers goal.  Grant McCann played in a free kick and we had a good laugh as it went way above the goal to land on the bowling green behind the crush of Harriers fans.  The second chance for a laugh came straight after.

At first it wasn't funny because Cheltenham managed to score, completely undeservedly.  Simon Weaver conceded a free kick, for which he was booked, on the edge of the area.  The ball was played in to Steve Guinan and, seeing Clarke slightly off his line, tried to get it over him but Clarke managed to get back to punch it back into play.  With the defence closing in Finnigan prodded the ball home.

Luckily for us we had a decent lino in Wendy Toms and straight away she spotted that the scorer had been played offside and the goal was chalked off.  A chorus of 'We love you Wendy, we do' reverberated as best it could around the excuse for an away end.

This was the signal for the Robins best spell of the half but the only thing they produced was a speculative effort from Devaney that Clarke tipped over the bar.

Slowly we managed to regain the upperhand and chances for Jenkins and Birch went begging.  Both led to corners which were equally un-fruitful.

The half ended with the Harriers going off to a barrage of extended applause from the Harriers fans that had just witnessed one of our best displays for a long, long time.

HT. 0 - 0

What happened in the dressing room we will never know but the second half was a complete let down.

Cheltenham had obviously had a rollocking from their manager, John Ward, and one of the first things they did to change their game was to give the dangerous Simon Russell less room.  He had been having a great game up till now but with the extra attention he wasn't getting so much as a sniff of the ball.

We had the first chance of this half when Dean Keates was set up with a clever ball from Gary Birch.  With an almost open goal he struck a venomous shot but, with Higgs narrowing the angle, it shot just past the post.

A minute later and Cheltenham got their first goal.  A goal that should never have been allowed.

We were playing the ball around the edge of the Robins area and Lee Jenkins was tripped from behind.  The referee totally ignored the offence and the ball was played quickly upfield to JJ Melligan who then passed the ball out wide to Devaney.  With Guinan rushing in our defence had been left flat footed and with no one to pick him up Devaney crossed the ball for him to head between the post and Clarke.

For a few minutes Harriers heads dropped but after a flurry of substitutions by both sides we had renewed energy with Matias getting two chances to score.  The first was a thunderous half volley that was stopped by Higgs with the ball falling just in front of Birch.  Sadly Birchy scuffed his shot and that chance was gone.  Matias was also replaced just after with Ian Foster coming on in his place.

The Robins went back on the attack again with the Harriers defence wilting in front of them.  This time Guinan missed a complete sitter when he sent his close range shot way over the bar and over the shed that the home fans were congregating in.

The game burst into life for all the wrong reasons fifteen minutes from time.

Johnny Mullins was fouled on the edge of our area and with the player lying prone play suddenly stopped.  With everyone shouting for the ball to be kicked out of play Martin Devaney decided to cock a deaf 'un and played the ball forward to Damien Spencer on the halfway line.  Stupidly, Wayne Hatswell went across him and sent him flying to the floor.

The ref ran across and instantly brandished a red card much to the disgust of fans and players alike.

We did try to make something of a game out of it but after the third minute of extra time Cheltenham delivered the killer stroke.  McCann aimlessly tried a speculative long range strike but, with the ball covered by Clarke, it somehow hit Tom Bennett and was deflected past Clarke for the second and final goal.

It was a bad result for us after such an excellent first half but it was made worse by the fact that Hats will miss the next three games for a 'professional foul' along with an extra one for his second red of the season.

Dean Keates will miss the Oxford game for collecting five yellows as will Simon Weaver.  He came to us with three yellows in his time at Macclesfield and one from a Lincoln game at the start of the season.

FT. 2 - 0

The Harriers-Online
Man of the Match is : 
Tom Bennett

On the first half showing I would have to pick all of them but overall just two stood out.  Tom Bennett and Johnny Mullins.

Tom Bennett gets it.
Man of the Match
vote for your
man of the match now

Cheltenham  subs   cards      Harriers  subs   cards 
Higgs     Clarke  
Gill     Waver
Duff     Mullins  
Caines     Beswetherick  
Victory     Hatswell
Finnigan     Bennett  
Devaney     Russell  
Melligan   Jenkins  
Guinan     Birch  
Vincent     Keates
McCann     Matias  
SUBS:       SUBS:    
Brown     Lewis  
Spencer     Beardsley  
Bird     Foster  
Wilson     Gleeson  
Odejayi     McHale  

Mr D Drysdale

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