The Harriers came away with a valuable FA Trophy win today on their second visit to Alfretons Impact Arena this season. The 3-1 win gives us a £5,000 pay day and also puts us into the hat for the second round draw on Monday.
Following that win today and our previous win at Grimsby in the FA Cup, earlier in the season, we should have no one to fear after previously thinking both games would be tough encounters and we'd be lucky to come back with a result. As it was we went there and came back home with two convincing victories.
With the rain clouds drawing in and about to deposit their contents the Harriers took to the field with just one change from the starting eleven at Telford last Saturday. Surprisingly Jamille Matt came in for his first start of the season in place of Nathan Blissett who has looked a little off the pace in recent weeks.
It was the home side who were the first to threaten Danny Lewis' goal when from the kick off they won a corner but it was headed over by Paul Clayton. We responded with two chances falling for Marvin Johnson with him running with the ball the length of the pitch but lacked optins and the ball ran free. His second chance saw his shot saved easily by the Alfreton keeper Jon Stewart.
Two minutes later Anthony Malbon, who had already scored in both our visits there, also tested the keeper and again Stewart saved well.
With the rain now falling hard, and the pitch becoming more greasy by the minute, Callum Gittings found his name to be the first in the referees notebook when he slid late into a tackle on Danny Emerton. Seconds after and the home side took the lead and, of course, it had to be Dan Bradley who scored.
With our defence caught square he nipped in behind them to lash the ball in at an angle and beyond the reach of Danny Lewis. Bradley was released by us last season after Steve Burr couldn't guarantee him first team football every week and now that man is going to haunt him for the rest of his life.
We needed to step our game up to the levels of last weeks superb performance and we hadn't been showing it yet. We tried to set up Matt a couple of times but the surface was playing hell with passing football and nothing seemed to be coming off. That changed fifteen minutes after Bradleys goal.
Josh Gowling played a long ball up field and Danny Pilkington chased after it. Seeing Stewart off his line he took his chance and fired goalwards to beat the stranded keeper and into the net.
The Harriers stepped up a gear and more chances began to fall our way. Malbon, Lee Vaughan, Matt and Johnson all had attempts to give us the lead but each time the shot was either off target or the keeper saw it coming.
At the other end Lewis was also being kept busy making three top class saves in just as many minutes from Arnold, Clayton and Arnold again.
A minute before the break the Harriers were forced into a substitution when the goal scoring hero, Pilkington, limped off to be replaced by Keith Briggs.