...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.