Hearty Harriers make Blues sweat
JOB done – but how the Blues were made to work for it, writes Derek Davis.Dean Bowditch popped up to be the hero with a goal straight from the Kidderminster restart in extra time after a frustrating 90 minutes.
JOB done – but how the Blues were made to work for it, writes Derek Davis.
Dean Bowditch popped up to be the hero with a goal straight from the Kidderminster restart in extra time after a frustrating 90 minutes.
It was the 17-year-old's first senior goal in his seventh substitute appearance for Town – and what a way to get off the mark.
Martijn Reuser had pumped the ball long, ex-Colchester defender Scott Stamps tried to head clear but the young England striker struck from just outside the area to beat the gallant Stuart Brock.
Bowditch replaced the injured Marcus Bent, who himself had gone on at half time for the misfiring Pablo Counago.
He had hit a half-volley over the bar when unmarked from 10 yards after being fed by Darren Bent and that summed up the frustration of the night. And Brock made another fine save to push his volley over the bar in extra time.
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Town wasted a raft of opportunities as they held the majority of possession and played some very good football but could not find the end product against hearty Harriers.
Keeper Brock had one of those nights where he was able to get a hand, or a leg, in front of anything and when he didn't the woodwork saved him or his defenders threw themselves in the way.
Harriers stuck to their game plan, getting plenty of men behind the ball and looking to burst out on the counter attack.
They kept their shape for the most part, were well organised and prepared to try and pass the ball.
Each Kidderminster player was warmly applauded by the Town fans as he was substituted and the whole team was given an ovation at the end, such was the appreciation of their sterling effort.
Town started with a 4-4-2 with Georges Santos dropping into the back four in place of Richard Naylor and Jermaine Wright going into midfield along with Martijn Reuser with Marcus Bent sacrificed up front.
Harriers made two changes from the side which beat Mansfield Town 2-1 on Saturday with two-goal hero Bo Henriksen rested as a precaution with an Achilles injury.
Loanee Andy Bishop was also left out, as Walsall didn't want him cup-tied, so 'Flying Postman' John Williams started as the lone striker and manager Ian Britton packed the midfield.
Williams, along with Graham Ward, were making their full debuts for the Third Division club.
There were plenty of chances in the first half and even more in the second.
Darren Bent had the pick of the bunch. His first opening came when he beat Craig Hinton to a Reuser through ball but dragged his angled shot from 25 yards wide, with the keeper way off his line.
He had also burst between the central defenders to reach a Miller ball but Adam Willis was able to nick it away from him.
Then he shot wide after clever play between Counago and Magilton and Bent capped a frustrating half by shooting straight at Brock. In the second period of extra time he dragged another shot wide but he never gave up and really deserved a goal.
Counago should have been more assertive with a header from 10 yards after finding space to meet a deep Matt Richards cross. His close control let him down too often and he ran into too many cul-de-sacs before being replaced during the break by Marcus Bent.
Drissa Diallo made an excellent tackle on the edge of the area to halt Dean Bennett but missed with a lunge moments later to allow former postman John Williams a clear sight of goal but he failed to deliver and poked his shot wide from 16 yards.
Williams had looked dangerous early on, twice getting behind the defence but Kelvin Davis was equal to his low drives from acute angles.
The Town keeper was forced to parry a 25-yarder from Bennett as Kidderminster kept Town's defence honest throughout.
Davis looked confident, commanding his area and not being afraid to stray beyond the 18-yard line. When Santos pushed into midfield at half-time, with Jim Magilton going off with a slight knock, Richard Naylor resumed his place in the back four alongside Diallo.
The second half became a procession of attacks with Darren Bent thwarted by Brock after being put through by Wright. Brock saved again when Bent hit a powerful strike on the run.
But it was not until teenager Bowditch arrived that the killer touch was finally found.