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Harriers 2 Torquay Utd 5

Date: 22-09-07 Venue: Aggborough att: 2027 away fans: 352
Merciless Gulls destroy battling Harriers
The Harriers crashed to another big defeat today and questions must be asked of a defence leaking goals like water from a sieve.    It didn't help that the debut from our latest loan aquisition, Chris MacKenzie from Shrewsbury, must rank as probably the worst goalkeeping performance seen from a Harrier for a long, long time.

MacKenzie was bought in yesterday because of injuries to first choice keeper Scott Bevan and the reserve keeper Dean Coleman and to be honest Coleman with a fractured finger would have been a better option than Calamity Chris.    As it was Coleman was kept on the bench throughout when he could have been bought on after it became obvious that MacKenzie was struggling for confidence and looking a liability.

He could have been at fault for the first goal but I'll be generous and agree that it was a fluke but his handling of the ball and hesitancy after that led directly to the blame for the next two lying firmly on his shoulders.

The ironic thing is that even though we lost this game 5-2 at no time did we look 5-2 bad!

Throughout the game we looked the better side and our passing at times was far superior to that of the visitors but all the brilliant passing in the world doesn't result in goals and that also singles out our other major problem today.    Our inability to score easy goals and instead go for the complicated route is also not good enough and needs to be questioned.

How many times did James Constable run with the ball through the Gulls defence, take the ball into the area and then loose it just because Justin Richards failed to make himself available by moving towards him a bit.    Time and again Richards just waited for the ball to come to him and by then it was too late.

As previously mentioned the first goal was a complete fluke.    We could have already been three goals to the good by the twelfth minute when Jonny Harkness tried to play a ball forward from the halfway line but it was somehow stopped mid travel by Hinshelwood who instinctively booted the ball back the other way as if to clear it.

It flew high into the air and then dropped down towards MacKenzies goal with the keeper off his line and back peddling for all he was worth.    He jumped high to try and touch it away but could only deflect it higher on it's journey to the back of the net.

The Harriers hit back immediately with a shot by Constable after Jeff Kenna showed that his old magic is still there by selling a Utd defender a dummy and then playing the ball through for Beano to run onto and then send in a great shot that was tipped over by the inform Gulls keeper, Simon Rayner.

Russ Penn then sends in another cross for the on fire Harriers striker but this time Constable shoots just wide.    That attempt to get back into the game is then followed up by Dean Bennett sending over a cross that at first deceives their keeper but he manages to push it away for a fruitless corner.

In the thirtieth minute Constable found himself in the referees notebook after an elbow caught Mark Ellis in the face but Ellis had been trying to get Constable wound up throughout the game and it's high time that our striker got used to the fact that this kind of thing will happen all the time.    He's a marked man now after his goals at Wembley.

Completely against the run of play Torquay scored a second goal when a Torquay free kick was cleared away for a corner but MacKenzie then flapped at the kick when he could have easily collected it.    The ball got pushed out to the far post for the unmarked Tim Sills to head into the goal via the head of Mark Creighton.

Four minutes further on and the game was over when Torquay scored their third goal and again it came after a period of non stop pressure from the Harriers but also from another goalkeeping/defending error.

A long kick from Rayner fell just in front of MacKenzies area and with neither the keeper or Creighton going for it Chris Zebroski sneaked in between them and easily side footed the ball into the empty net.

With five minutes of the half to go we looked down for the first time in the game and the new keeper looked a wreck.    Mark Yates was going to have his work cut out trying to lift the team after that lesson in finishing.
HT: 0 - 3
We looked to be trying even harder in this half and giving the visitors a run for their money.    The fans were sensing too that we could be in with a chance of clawing a goal or two back and started up a chant of 'Barmy Army'.

Andy Ferrell, having another quiet game, tried his luck from twenty yards out that Rayner only just managed to get hold of but is then taken off to bring Simon Russell on.    Russell goes out wide and Russ Penn comes more into the middle of the park.

Russell is immediately in action and gets a shot in that hits the side netting but subsequent shots from him tended to go more towards the corner flag.    He's not quite sharp enough just yet after being out most of the season injured.

On the hour mark we fell further behind and this time there were no complaints with the keeper.    Torquay were awarded a corner out wide on the left.    Taken by Kevin Nicholson it sailed into the area to the unmarked Zebroski to head home from six yards out.

Thankfully for us we had one player who was never going to give up and we managed to pull a goal back through James Constable.    Justin Richards held up play long enough for Michael Blackwood to get forward to receive the ball from him.    Blackie then quickly laid the ball into the area for Beano to head the ball into the bottom corner of the net.

Then came a moment of controversy and dis-belief as the referee missed an obvious corner.    A shot from Richards was clearly pushed out for a corner but to everyone's amazement he signalled a goal kick.    Even the keeper couldn't believe what he had just witnessed.

A few minutes later and we could have pulled another goal back when Richards had a shot that went just wide and then he came closer still with a header from a Russell cross that somehow got cleared off the line by a Torquay defender.

Straight from that near miss Torquay reclaimed their four goal difference by going straight up the other end and scoring their fifth goal of the game.    Lee Phillips had come on seconds earlier as a substitute for Ishmael Welsh and after he collected the ball he cut inside and shot from an acute angle beyond the reach of the on loan keeper.

Still we didn't give up and we managed to narrow the gap once more through Constable.    With the crowd still urging the team on Russ Penn won the ball and set Constable on his way towards the North Stand.    He slipped easily past two defenders and then just as easily slipped the ball under the advancing Rayner to make the score 5-2.

With time now running down it was clear that we would never claw back the three goal deficit but there was still time for a Torquay player to make an attempt to get Constable sent off.

Jonny Harkness sent in a curling cross and with both Constable and the keeper coming to claim the ball it could have been won by either player but, now getting wise to opposing tactics, James backed off at the last minute at exactly the same moment that Rayner decides to crash to the ground claiming he had been fouled.

Constable hadn't even touched him and at first the referee seemed to be going to talk to Constable about it then suddenly realised that there was no case to answer.    The keeper should have been booked for feigning injury but it would have meant that the ref wouldn't have had anyone to talk to on the coach back down to Devon.

So it's our third five goal defeat of the season and now it's time to stop.    Even if it means playing one striker up front we have got to forget about scoring bagfuls of goals and concentrate on keeping bagfuls out.

Starting at Salisbury next week.
FT: 2 - 5

 Goals for Harriers: Constable 67, 78
 Goals for Torquay: Hinshelwood 13, Sills 37, Zebroski 40, 60, Phillips 75

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Harriers  subs   cards      Torquay Utd  subs   cards 
MacKenzie     Rayner  
Kenna     Hinshelwood  
Harkness     Nicholson  
Ferrell     Laird  
Creighton gif   Ellis  
Whitehead     Todd  
Bennett     Bedeau  
Constable gif   Sills  
Richards     Zebroski  
Penn     Hockley  
Blackwood     Welsh  
SUBS:       SUBS:    
Coleman     Rice  
Russell     Phillips  
Barnes-Homer     Hill  
Bignot     Wring  
McGrath     Stevens  

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