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Harriers 1gifAltrincham 1

Date: 02-04-16 gif Venue: Aggborough gif att: 1402 gif away fans: 119
Harriers leave it late but is it too late

gif Report: Phil Lench
Ben Whitfield scored a late equaliser for the Harriers at home to Altrincham today in a game that we were supposed to win against fellow relegation strugglers.  Instead for the second week running we looked a ramshackle bunch even though the sickness in the camp had largely passed and we were back to an almost normal starting eleven.

Along with Whitfield also back was Evan Garnett from that bug while coming back in after being dropped last week was Jared Hodgkiss and Luke Maxwell.  That meant James McQuilkin, Omari Patrick and Jordan Tunnicliffe dropping to the bench along with Arthur Gnahoua who was coming back from injury.  Thankfully Kelvin Langmead returned back into the defensive pairing rather than being risked up front by himself again as he had done at home to Tranmere last Monday.

On a nice, sunny Spring day it was the Harriers who started the game looking the stronger against an Altrincham side that contained three former Harriers in Jake Moult, Josh O'Keefe and James Lawrie.  In the first few minutes Elton N'Gwatala chanced his arm with an angled shot that Tim Deasy got down to push away but injured himself in the process and the game was stopped for a short while as he received treatment.

On the re-start the Harriers kept plugging away trying to break forward but the warning signs were coming when Josh Ginnelly tried a shot from wide that the Harriers keeper, Max O'Leary, pushed away for a corner.  The corner came to nothing at first and was cleared upfield by the Harriers only for it to fall for Adam Griffin to send a long forward ball through for Damian Reeves to run onto and then easily lob the ball over the top of our 'off the line' keeper and into the back of the net.  The already quiet Harriers fans fell silent and stunned.

Reeves had another attempt to score a similar goal a few minutes later but this time he mishit his shot and O'Leary gathered easily.  We had gone into a shell now and everything we tried went wrong with passes going astray, no one running into position and when we did manage to find someone they couldn't capitalise or create anything from it.  Evan Garnett in particular is a fish out of water and no where near as effective as Harry White was for us.

Interestingly while White was with us we did look a better team and during that time we actually won games and looked threatening.  Now he has gone to Boreham Wood, in preference to us, we have looked clueless upfront and a mere shadow of what we had with him.  If we have any hope of getting back into this division then we need a striker of his calibre and not one that is as effective of Gary Hay in his prime.

The half ended as a bit of a mess with neither side good enough to get near to scoring.  Whitfield and N'Gwatala tried but with no real power in their shots while Altrincham lacked any real interest in scoring apart from a snap shot from Jake Moult from a distance that caught O'Leary by surprise after it sailed over his head and the goal.
  HT: 0 - 1
At the start of the new half we didn't get the changes that we had expected and Colin Gordon continued with the starting eleven that had failed so far.  It would have been a positive step to do away with the three at the back that clearly wasn't working and also the lack of another creative player in the middle.  Instead the changes were made after ten minutes in so wasting ten minutes in my book.

On came Arthur Gnahoua in place of Tyrone Williams to give us an attacking option but he looked unfit anyway so didn't make much of an impact.  Alty tried their luck with another chance for the busy Ginnelly but O'Leary blocked his shot but they seemed content with what they had and didn't bother us too much.

Kelvin Langmead had a header pushed over the bar by Deasy following a well placed Whitfield corner before James McQuilkin arrived on the scene in place of Luke Maxwell.  Straight away he had a shot on goal go over the bar from almost near the half way line but Deasy was following it all the way.

Even with two attacking subs on and a reversion back to 4-4-2 we still struggled to create anything meaningful and time was beginning to run out.  Altrincham replaced Damian Reeves with Michael Rankine, mainly for the fresh legs and not to cement their win, and he sent a header wide before Garnett played a through ball for McQuilkin who then sent his shot wide of the mark.

It was when James Lawrie forced O'Leary into a save that we finally awoke from our slumbers and realised that the game was about to slip from our grasp and we could end up with nothing yet again.

McQuilkin again saw a shot go wide, another Langmead header was cleared off the line by Gianluca Havern before Lewis Kinsella had a really good, strong shot smartly saved by their keeper just before the equalising goal finally came with a minute of normal time to go.  Ryan Crowther, on for Ginnelly, gave away the ball for Whitfield to snap and say thank you as he moved forward and then struck a curling shot around Deasy and into the net.  Cheers of relief swept around the ground as the players celebrated as if we had won but with Welling winning at Tranmere it would have all been in vain anyway.

We play Welling down there next week and we will have to be a lot better than we were today if we have any hope of a win.  It's all too late anyway and we should be beating fellow relegation candidates at home if we were serious about avoiding relegation in the first place.
  FT: 1 - 1

 Goal for Harriers: Whitfield 89
 Goal for Altrincham: Reeves 9

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Harriers  goals   subs   cards      Altrincham  goals   subs   cards 
O'Leary     Deasy  
Hodgkiss     Holness  
Kinsella   Griffin  
Maxwell gif     Moult
Langmead     Havern  
Lowe     Leather  
Fané     Lawrie  
Williams gif     Richman  
Garnett     Reeves gif gif  
Whitfield gif     O'Keefe  
N'Gwatala     Ginnelly gif  
SUBS:         SUBS:      
Snedker     Rankine gif - 68  
Patrick     Heathcote  
Gnahoua gif - 53     Crowther gif - 86  
Tunnicliffe     Sinnott  
McQuilkin gif - 57     Phillips  

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