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Harriers 0 Exeter City 2

Date: 17-02-07 Venue: Aggborough att: 2033 away fans: 360
Controversial defeat ends up in punch up
With the Harriers losing, poorly, for the second time in a row this game took an unpleasant twist at the end when the Harriers manager, Mark Yates, marched onto the pitch and appear to head butt Lee Elam after first offering to shake his hand.

It had been bad enough for the home supporters watching this pathetic display from a team that had recently turned in an unbeaten run of thirteen games.    To then see our manager put his future on the line with an attack on an opposing player was depressing.

It seems that he had already forgotten his noble gesture in taking the players off the pitch at Worcester in a pre season friendly when their assistant manager had punched Mark Creighton in the dressing room.    Yates will now be waiting for the referees report into the incident to see in what form the punishment will come but first he will have to deal with being called to the boardroom on Monday to explain to them what was on his mind at the time.

Personally I think he'll be looking at a hefty fine and the remainder of the season sat in the stand.    That's if he's lucky.

The Harriers made two changes from the side whose unbeaten run came to an end at Forest Green Rovers last weekend.    Jeff Kenna returned to right back in place of Brian Smikle and Gavin Hurren came in for Jake Sedgemore after shaking off a hamstring problem.    On the bench was new striker Gary Hay, a non-contract signing from Bromsgrove Rovers on Friday.

In charge of the game was Amy Rayner, a referee that is not short of controversy herself, after failing to award us a stone ground penalty after Iyseden Christie was deprived of his legs in the penalty area against York City earlier in the season.    The Luton manager, Mike Newell isn't a fan of hers either.

City came out of the starting blocks at a canter and never let up once they had exposed us for the poor side that we really were today.    Where their passing was slick ours was inaccurate, where their midfield was working as a unit ours weren't even at the races, where their attack was fast and penetrating ours was lethargic and clueless.

It took just three minutes for City to show their intentions when a poor back pass from the normally assured Stuart Whitehead was pounced upon by Jon Challinor whose well struck volley appeared to be dipping under the bar until Scott Bevan acrobatically flipped it over the bar.

Bevan was called into action again moments later when Wayne Carlisle tried his luck from the edge of the area but his weak shot was collected easily by Bevan.

Our first chance of the game came fourteen minutes into the game when Michael Blackwood got a shot in but the City keeper, Paul Jones, got down to it and saved well.    Blackwood was in the thick of things again a minute later but this time his cross for a below par James Constable was far too hard for the striker and the ball flashed across the goal.

Exeter were soon back on the attack and James Mackie was unlucky not to score when his shot was beaten away by Bevs legs.

Although it was the visitors that were seeing the higher percentage of the ball, thanks to their fluent style and accurate passing, it was the Harriers that were to get the best goal scoring chance of the half when James Constable had four chances to bury the ball and made a complete hash four times with the last one being a mis-kick just feet from an open goal.

It had taken Rayner a while to get into her stride but she managed to finally get the cards out after Mark Creighton appeared to get the ball cleanly off Mackie but the City front man ran into the giant centre half.    The ironic thing was the leniency that she gave to Lee Elam after he had elbowed Gavin Hurren in the back a minute earlier, an offence she had acknowledged when she raised her elbow to show what the free kick had been given for.

Two more bookings followed soon after when Elam went in on Russ Penn from behind and Penny retaliated, somewhat stupidly.

City ended the first period of play with a flurry of chances for Challinor and Carlisle with Jonny Harkness putting in a fine tackle on Carlisle to clear the ball way from danger after both Whitehead and Creighton had failed miserably to do so.    Carlisle looked at the ref for a penalty but this time she did the right thing and waved him away.
HT: 0 - 0
For the second half we did actually look as if we intended to improve our attitude and skill levels but it was short lived.    All of ten minutes.

That's how long it took City to get the first goal after capitalising on slack play in the Harriers defence.    Elam sent in a powerful shot from the corner of the area that Bevan managed to push onto the underside of the bar.    The ball cannoned down and bounced just the right side of the line and out to Challinor who forced the ball, this time, over the line.

Soon after Yates decided to make a change and new signing Gary Hay was bought on to replace, an again, disappointing Andy White: a player with a profound lack of talent and urgency by the bucket full.

Hay looked alright but it's early days yet and he'll need to get a bit of match fitness before he'll be starting a game.    He does look a better player than Whitey so that will be enough for most fans.

City came close to adding a second soon after when a shot from Steve Tully hit the crossbar and down at the other end Russ Penn had a shot that went just wide of the upright.

The Harriers were getting nowhere at all now and time and again our passes were going too far away from the intended recipient or the ball was being hoofed up from defence straight to the City keeper.    Midfield were being totally by-passed and may as well have gone home for all the good they were.

The game exploded into the first simmering's of friction mid way through the half when a flurry of bookings were handed out to Harriers players.    First Gavin Hurren got booked for tackling Elam a bit too strongly but there seemed to be no after effects for the City man because as soon as the referees back was turned, while she was booking Trigger, the little scumbag dropped to the floor feigning injury.    Michael Blackwood then stupidly intervened by pushing Elam, now trying to get up, back down again.    Rayner must have thought she'd won the lottery as she again got her book out and brandished another card at Blackie.

Cheating Lee Elam 2 - Harriers 0

Elam then went on to rub salt into our shattered team spirit when with two minutes remaining of the ninety minutes he scored the decisive goal.    Mackie got to the byeline and played the ball back to Elam who spun round to shoot but almost made a mess of it by stumbling over the ball.    He recovered enough to poke it past Bevan though.

This was a shocking performance from the Harriers but let's not take anything from City.    They came with a game plan that included playing attractive football and less attractive cheating.

We need to buckle down now and get back to passing the ball around if we want to see off the challenge of Dagenham on Tuesday evening.    We also need to get this midfield problem sorted out as soon as possible and also sort out our discipline at the same time.
FT: 0 - 2

 Goals for Exeter: Challinor 54, Elam 88

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Harriers  subs   cards      Exeter City  subs   cards 
Bevan     P Jones  
Kenna     Tully  
Harkness     W Jones  
Hurren gif   Gill  
Creighton gif   Edwards  
Whitehead     Todd  
Russell     Elam gif
Penn gif   Mackie  
White     Challinor  
Constable     Buckle  
Blackwood gif   Carlisle  
SUBS:       SUBS:    
S Taylor     Rice  
Hay     Stansfield  
Reynolds     Cozic  
Sedgemore     Logan  
Smikle     Richardson  

Ms A Rayner

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