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Stevenage Borough 1 Harriers 2

Date: 03-04-07 Venue: Broadhall Way att: 1753 away fans: 75 approx
Yet another rotten ref but he won't stop us winning
The Harriers are facing a £1000 fine from the FA after having eight players booked in tonight's away victory at Stevenage.    A victory made all the more sweeter because we'll now be meeting them at Wembley with the psychological advantage of knowing that we have already beaten them recently.

How the London based referee, in charge of a game being played on the outskirts of London, found it possible to book so many of our players yet not one of theirs beggars belief.    Even though our second goal came from a penalty no yellow card was shown to the offender the reason why a mystery known only to himself.

As it is Russ Penn now finds himself on fourteen yellow cards for the season and needs just one more to face a another period of suspension of three games.    Hopefully he'll get booked on or before the Rushden game in two weeks time to ensure that he will be playing at Wembley.    If the fifteenth booking comes after that game then there is a strong possibility of him missing out - something that we do not want or need.

Mark Yates made a number of changes to the side to play at Broadhall Way tonight.    Gavin Hurren dropped to the bench to make way for Jake Sedgemore, Jon Brady made way for Michael Blackwood and Luke Reynolds was replaced by Glenn Wilson as the manager decided to go with Iyseden Christie alone up front with Penn in a supporting role just behind him.

The first chance of the night fell to Boro's Ronnie Henry after Scott Bevan, in goal for the Harriers, punched his twenty five yard shot away for a corner.    The corner, taken by Steve Guppy, was cleared away to safety.

The first attempt on goal for us came just a minute later after Michael Blackwood hit a shot from the same distance but with more power.    This time the Stevenage keeper, Alan Julian, saved well.

With just under twelve minutes gone came the first in a stream of illogical bookings when Jonny Harkness appeared to slip over and fell against a Stevenage player.    Amazingly the referee got his yellow card out straight away and waved it in the Harriers defenders face.

Stevenage were now starting to pile on a small amount of pressure on the Harriers and Jon Nurse saw his shot from the edge of the penalty area tipped over the bar by Bevan.    From the resulting corner a goalmouth scramble led to the ball being cleared by Mark Creighton only to see it fall for Nurse to send in a similar effort to the one a minute earlier.

On fifteen minutes Iyseden Christie had his first chance of the game when his header from twelve yards out looped over the Borough crossbar.    Christie hasn't scored since we beat Exeter City in the FA Trophy in January and would be hoping to break his duck soon.

On twenty one minutes came the goal we had been waiting for when a foul on Creighton by Nurse was taken by Harkness and played long to the Harriers front row.    The ball eventually found it's way to Russ Penn who shot low from the left side of the goal to put the Harriers into the driving seat.

Another period of strong Stevenage pressure followed but the Harriers defence held firm until we were suddenly given the chance to increase our lead.

Mark Hughes took the legs from under Simon Russell as he turned away from goal and the ref had no hesitation in pointing to the spot, but not booking the Stevenage player for his foul.    Christie stepped up to take it and, following his last penalty take when he missed against Oxford, there was an air of expectancy about how this one would turn out.    There were to be no worries though as Issey power blasted it into the centre of goal with Julian going the wrong way to break his goal famine.

Russ Penn picked up his fourteenth booking of the season on thirty six minutes after supposedly fouling John Nutter but the player in question didn't appear to have been fouled, didn't fall over and didn't even notice that he had been fouled.    It was all a figment of the refs vivid imagination.
Penn did foul a Stevenage player just two minutes later and the referee didn't even raise an eyebrow.

Nurse was to have the last chance of a goal during this half when his header from only six yards out went well wide of Bevans goal.

HT: 0 - 2
Within thirty seconds of the restart Stevenage had pulled a goal back.    A foul by Jeff Kenna on Steven Morison was quickly taken by Nutter straight to Ronnie Henry who slipped his marker and let fly with a shot from outside the twelve yard box.

The Harriers were in determined mood tonight and losing a goal advantage wasn't going to worry them too much because five minutes later we were back on the attack with Simon Russell forcing Julian into an excellent save from his curling shot.

Stevenage then saw Morison start to come into the game more after a quiet first half when Bevan just managed to get his fingertips to a shot from him and pushed it around the post for a fruitless corner.

Stuart Whitehead was the next Harrier to upset the referee after he was sent crashing to the ground by Nurse and complained to the prat in black about the lack of punishment for their fouls.    The ref booked Stuart for arguing, gave Nurse a kiss on the cheek and told him he'd see him later behind the bike sheds.

Our crunching fouls and blatant dis-regard for the rules was now getting to Mr Cook of London when he booked Mark Creighton for getting himself fouled.    Craig Dobson had tussled with the big man as they jumped for the ball and wrapped his arm around Creights neck.    Creighton tried to push him off and the ref booked our man and yet again ignored the original foul on him.

A minute earlier Nurse had gone in on Bevan as Bev attempted to retrieve a loose ball and the ref had chosen to ignore that too.    The man was getting to be a joke.

Halfway through the second period Jonny Harkness got injured and was replaced by Gavin Hurren and Stevenage started to make changes to the line-up in an effort to get back into the game.    The veteran winger, Steve Guppy, went off to be replaced with Mitchell Cole.

With the home side now desperate to get something from the game the Harriers started to face more pressure again although most of the rough stuff was coming from Boro.    First Santos Gaia blatantly fouled Christie without receiving any kind of censure apart from giving away the free kick and then all hell broke loose after Simon Russell was upended by Barry Fuller.

With Russell about to take the free kick suddenly the Stevenage players swarmed over to him and a fight broke out.    The Stevenage keeper ran half the length of the field to give his view on the incident and plenty of pushing and shoving followed.    Once it had all calmed down the ref went to formulate a plan with his assistant that wouldn't be seen to upset the home crowd too much and so booked Russell and Blackwood for their innocent part in it all.

Time was when Mark Yates would have taken his players off the pitch and if he had of done so tonight there would have been no complaints from Harriers fans for such crass refereeing from someone who is supposed to be highly trained and in charge of a game.

Shots on goal came in from Mitchell Cole and John Nutter but it was now a matter of keeping Stevenage out for the last quarter of a hour and also trying to keep the card count down.    They'd be wasting their time there then because another two cards were brandished in the Harriers direction.    One for Jake Sedgemore following a tackle and a ludicrous one for Iyseden Christie after he grabbed hold of the corner flag to stop himself from falling after being fouled by a Stevenage player.

The referee then played his piéce de resistancé by adding on seven minutes of injury time. Thankfully for us Stevenage weren't cute enough to realise that this was the refs way of telling them to hurry up and get two goals and the game ended with the Harriers victorious against all odds.

The win was just what we needed after a run of poor results but at what cost?    We now need to see Russ Penn get booked again as soon as possible to guarantee his playing at Wembley but we now also find our Trophy winnings £1000 short because of an incompetent referee that should be hauled over the coals by the FA for his display tonight.

Will he? will he heck as like.
FT: 1 - 2

 Goal for Stevenage: Henry 45
 Goals for Harriers: Penn 21, Christie 32 (pen),

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Latest table and stats here  

Stevenage Borough  subs   cards      Harriers  subs   cards 
Julian     Bevan  
Fuller     Kenna  
Nutter     Harkness gif
Henry     Sedgemore gif
Hughes     Creighton gif
Gaia     Whitehead gif
Beard     Russell gif
Dobson     Penn gif
Nurse     Christie gif
Morison     Wilson  
Guppy     Blackwood gif
SUBS:       SUBS:    
Potter     S Taylor  
Hakim     Hurren  
Cole     Reynolds  
Oliver     Brady  
Lewis     Hay  

Mr S Cook

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