Torquay Utd 0 Harriers 1
away fans: 148
Harriers grab a win at Torquay
The Harriers performed an astounding smash and grab at Torquay Utd's Plainmoor ground today with a second goal in two days from Martin Riley and a showstopping, goalkeeping display from Adam Bartlett.
Following a run of results of various quality the fans were hoping for a change to the line-up but the only ones they got were the return of Mark Creighton and Russell Penn to the side following their one game bans. Also the retention of Dean Bennett in the starting eleven in preference to Brian Smikle. There was no place on the bench for either Darryl Knights and David McDermott.
With Torquay in a rich vein of form they produced a scare for the Harriers straight from the kick off. With our defence split down the middle Matthew Green raced past Martin Riley to collect a Tim Sills' pass but then panicked and fired too early from some way out. Two minutes later and Utd attacked again, this time through Danny Stevens, but this time there was no danger as Adam Bartlett easily collected the ball.
It was just a taste of things to come with Torquay mounting a wave of attacks on the Harriers goal but luckily for us their shooting boots had been left behind and they failed to get a shot on target.
The Harriers on the other hand were again totally devoid of any attacking ideas and failed to muster a single shot on goal throughout the entire first forty five minutes of the game. The former Harriers keeper Scott Bevan, who earlier in the day had signed an eighteen month contract with Torquay, must have been wondering what was wrong with his former team mates.
Slowly the Reds found their feet and managed to restrict the hosts to just two further shots on goal but the chances that fell the way of Matt Green and Wayne Carlisle caused no real concern to Bartlett and the half ended goalless and the Harriers still in with a chance.
HT: 0 - 0
Just before the second half started Bevan came out early, as he always did for us, and milked the applause from the travelling Harriers fans. A fine gesture for a man who was a rock for us but shit on by Shrewsbury Town.
When the game finally re-started it didn't take long for Utd to continue as they had done before. Nicky Wroe had a fine effort driven a fraction over the bar from the edge of the box but overall the Harriers were coping better now that Mark Yates had moved Andy Ferrell to the left side of the midfield and put Russ Penn in the middle.
Adam Bartlett was still saving the Harriers with some more fine saves including one from Carlisle that he blocked well.
Ten minutes into the half and poor old Creights found himself on the wrong side of the referee once more. This time for a challenge on Carlisle in which he got the ball but just caught the player and so received yet another yellow card.
Soon after we had our first real chance of a goal when Matty Barnes-Homer collected the ball out wide and fooled the advancing Bevan to send a cross over to Andy Ferrell. The only problem with that is that Ferrell is no striker and he took too long over it before being dispossessed by Kevin Nicholson before he could shoot.
The Gulls made their first line up change soon after with Elliott Benyon coming on for a luckless Matt Green. That was soon followed by yet another chance for us when Justin Richards curled a shot in but Bevan collected it easily.
Barts then pulled off the first of his two great saves when Chris Hargreaves got past Dean Bennett to fire in a left footed volley that was heading for the corner of the net but somehow the Harriers keeper got down to and pushed it, one handed, away for a corner.
That was the signal for us to turn the tables on Utd and score.
With just under fifteen minutes of the game left a corner was taken by Martin Brittain. Without his usual accuracy it hit Creighton but fell just right for Martin Riley to smash the ball home for his second goal of the season.
A flurry of changes then took place and the hosts took off a midfielder for a striker with Tyrone Thompson coming on in place of Danny Stevens. We also made a change and Brian Smikle replaced Martin Brittain and then soon after Luke Jones replaced Justin Richards as Yates tried to hold on to our narrow, and unlikely, lead.
With time now running out and injury time being played came the killer blow. Torquay were handed a controversial last gasp penalty after the referee wrongly decided that a handball in the area had been committed by Riley when it was in fact by a Torquay player. Despite the Harriers protests Tim Sills stepped up to the penalty spot to take it.
Incredibly Barts made yet another wonder save and pushed the kick around the post and in doing so broke the hearts of the Torquay players but sent our fans into raptures over a three point reward against a side that we least expected it from.
We now have a few days break before we go into one of our most important game in ages. The FA Cup 3rd round game at Coventry City on January 3rd.