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Harriers 0 Altrincham 1    FA Trophy 2nd rd


Date: 10-01-15gif Venue: Aggboroughgif att: 1204gif away fans: 163
Harriers woes continue with another home defeat...

gif Report by Phil Lench
...but this defeat wasn't just any old defeat.

This was one that we should have won for many reasons the least of which was it was our third home defeat on the trot.  There were other reasons such as second half domination, missed penalties, great goalkeeping and so on but the real reason why this was such a bad defeat was because the club, and the fans, were relying on a good run in the Trophy to bring some much needed funds into the club and also the chance to go to Wembley again.  The possibility of us getting anywhere near the play-offs is looking thinner by the minute if we can't drop on a player that can hit the back of the net.

A bad mistake from the Harriers new loan signing Nathaniel Kelly to allow Altrincham to score their only goal of the game didn't help matters but Kelly could be excused for being nervous in his first game on the big stager but Craig Reids shocking penalty miss wasn't down to nerves.  It was down to a lack of clinical ability and composure that saw him sky it over the bar and almost over the stand too.

We started the game on a poor pitch once again with the only improvement from the last time we played on it was that it wasn't as wet and the high winds overnight had dried it out to a certain extent.  Nathan Kelly was in from the start after our normal number sixes were both absent with Josh Gowling out through injury and Jordan Tunnicliffe through being cup tied.  Kelly was thrown into the deep end and had never played at this level before.

On the bench was another new face.  Keyon Reffell had finally received international clearance to play (Wales? international?) and he soon got his chance to shine when Marvin Johnson was taken off injured mid way through the first half although it was more of a precaution than being a serious injury to his hip.

By then the damage had been done and Altrincham had taken the lead in the nineteenth minute through a Damian Reeves opportunistic goal after he capitalised on a slow clearance from Kelly that only got as far as a few feet away into the path of Reeves.  The Alty hitman quickly took the ball forward and fired in an unstoppable shot that left Danny Lewis no chance of saving.

Up until then both sides were equal with, probably the visitors just shading the possession and passing, against our chances of scoring.  Kevin Nicholson fired one from distance that Stuart Coburn saved easily, and Akwasi Asante suddenly burst into action after he, for once, won the ball in a one on one situation with an Alty defender.  His snap shot was well saved at the foot of the post.  Then came the goal.

Reeves had already given notice that he was going to be a danger when he forced Lewis into a save that was tipped over the bar but then went one better with the goal five minutes later.  He should have doubled their lead just before the Johnson injury when his header at the near post was poorly directed and should have been buried.  Instead it went well wide of the upright.

Before that Marvin Johnson had seen his neat lob go over the bar but then came the worrying injury and he went off to make way for the debut of a ready made replacement in Keyon Reffell should he ever feel the need to leave the club.

Three minutes from the break came the moment that was to define the remainder of the game for us and also the result.

Jack Byrne was upended in the area by Luca Havern - some may say it was a bit soft - and the ref pointed to the spot.  Up stepped Craig Reid to take it (all primed and up for it after scoring our first of the season on New Years day) and missed.  Groans rang out around the ground and the mould was cast.
  HT: 0 - 1
The second period was much improved apart from the ability to play on our pitch.  Yet Altrincham seemed to manage it, as did Southport and FGR a few weeks back, and continued to pass the ball around without losing it too much.

Within minutes of the re-start came an un-expected surprise.  One that no one saw coming.

After nine minutes Craig Reid was called off for Reece Styche to take his place.  Was it because of the earlier missed penalty, was it because he was injured or was it as we found out later on the radio that Gary Whild had lost patience with his lack of interest and effort.  If it was then we could have told the manager this months ago.

Styche answered his critics in the best possible way by making the frontline start to work harder and also give the visiting defenders something to do.  Jack Byrne came close with a header that went just over the bar and then Asante, now awake, forced Stuart Coburn to use his legs to stop the ball from going home.  Kyle Storer also had a chance to score through a ruck of players but his shot had no venom and was cleared away easily.

The Harriers had now upped the tempo but the visitors were happy to sit back and soak up the pressure.  They made a few changes to that effect by bringing on players that could hold up the play at the expense of ones that could score goals.

With the game now ticking away for the last ten minutes the Harriers staged an onslaught on the Town End.  Asante, again, had another chance to open his account with us when his shot through a, yet again, packed box was spotted at the last minute by Coburn and then Reffell, who had been showing that maybe there could be life after Johnson, stung the keepers hands with a fierce drive following a jinking run into the area.

The beat was saved for last though when we were given a penalty outside the area.  Kevin Nicholson took it and it swerved around the Altrincham defenders to target itself just inside the post.  Somehow Coburn got down to it, with a fantastic diving save, and stopped it on the line.

The dream was over for another year.  Hopefully our season won't be over but it doesn't look too good.
  FT: 0 - 1

 Goal for Altrincham: Reeves 19

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gif Keyon Reffell

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Harriers  goals   subs   cards      Altrincham  goals   subs   cards 
Lewis     Coburn  
Hodgkiss     Densmore  
Nicholson     Griffin  
Storer     Moult  
Kelly     Havern
Grimes     Marshall  
Byrne     S Williams
Johnson gif     Richman  
Asante     Crowther gif  
Reid gif     Reeves gif gif  
Gittings     Clee gif  
SUBS:         SUBS:      
Green     Parton  
Digie     Leather gif - 73  
Styche gif - 54     Gillespie gif - 86  
Obeng     Perry gif - 59  
Reffell gif - 36     Swift  

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