Match report Vs Alfreton TownVenue: North StreetDate: 04-08-18Att: 754 (away fans: 300)

04-08-18 - Report - Alfreton Town 3 Harriers 3

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Report: Centreforeword

So the start of a new season has come round again.

As in all previous years, the Harriers faithful were full of hope and trepidation. Would Dan Bradley continue to shine and stay fit? Was the squad big enough to last a whole season? Would the new manager ever stop shouting during a game and would my mate’s bladder last until half time in order to avoid disrupting the rest of the row of fans in the stand?

A veritable throng of Harriers stalwarts made their way to the Impact Arena to get a sun tan as well as to watch their favoured team. For this one, the new boss gave a few surprising starts to members of the fledgling squad. Ryan Johnson over Joel Taylor and Billy Daniels ahead of Ed Williams. For what it’s worth Daniels generally had a good game – save for giving away the penalty in the last five minutes – doh. However, with the benefit of hindsight and whilst Johnson did not have a complete mare, Taylor might have done a better job over Johnson methinks.

The game started at a fast pace given the 25-degree heat. It was clear from the outset though that Harriers were going to play a more direct style of football. Gone was the tapping it out of defence and the slow deliberate build up, keeping the ball on the ground throughout. Instead a 3-5-2 formation was being adopted with the wing backs scurrying backwards and forwards as required.

Whilst Brandon Hall rolling the ball out to his defensive line remained an option, this was intermingled with well-directed kicks and throws out of defence to the midfield and forward line as well as the occasional hoof ball down the centre of the park. The opposition were less able to read the style of play and were thus caught unawares on several occasions. Of course, with a back line of three and possibly two Alfreton forwards closing that back line down, it did make playing out from the back considerably more dangerous.

A simple, yet great move, for the Carpetmen brought the first goal. Bradley came towards the thrower when the ball had gone out of play level with the home side’s penalty area. He then moved away and picked up the throw in on the volley, planting it firmly in the bottom corner of the Alfreton net and leaving the goal keeper no chance. Alfreton 0 Harriers 1.

The game was generally fairly even at this point with a splattering of chances at both ends. It was inevitable however that the greater physical presence of Alfreton would have an impact. It was obvious in the warm up that the home team had greater height and bulk. Consequently, it was no surprise when Toms Platt and Denton firstly equalised and then took the lead with headed goals from a corner and then a cross respectively. Harriers felt themselves to be a bit unfortunate in going in at the break behind. The worst they would have hoped for based on the run of play would have been an even score line.

HT: 2 – 1

Harriers were out of the blocks quickly at the start of the second half and within a few minutes they had secured the equaliser. Ashley Chambers, who had battled well throughout the first period, had picked up a knock towards the end of the first segment and clearly could not continue after the break. In his place on came Kane Richards who was quick and also controlled the ball well.

After just three minutes in Richards despatched a cut back from Sammy Austin and Harriers were level. There was a hint of hand ball from Austin but the referee wasn’t interested and the goal stood. Alfreton 2 Harriers 2.

From this point on Harriers dominated. Town dropped further and further back into their own goal area as the heat began to take its toll on them. Harriers were now collecting every second ball and the Alfreton goal was being bombarded. Eventually the pressure counted as mid way through the half Joe Ironside performed one of his customary turns on a sixpence and bundled the ball into the opposition goal net. Harriers had taken the lead. Alfreton 2 Harriers 3.

Given the conditions it was somewhat expected then when Harriers sat back a bit and the game became a bit more even once more. Nonetheless, chances still came at both ends. In one particular instance it seemed that Richards had the opportunity to break away at pace and bear down on the Alfreton goal, only to be deliberately tripped in a professional foul. Three yellows for Alfreton overall. None for the Harriers.

Exasperatingly Alfreton were to draw level with just five minutes of normal time left. Josh Wilde was tackled unfairly in the Harriers goal mouth by Daniels. Bobby Johnson then hit the penalty firmly to Brandon Hall’s right and although Hall got a solid hand to it, the ball ended up in the back of the net.

Overall a very entertaining game with Harriers’ new shape seeming to work well. With a bit of fine tuning it could work even better. It was a shame that the visitors did not come away with all three points but a draw away from home on the first day of the season isn’t too bad an outcome. Hopefully Chambers will be fit for Tuesday evening versus Telford at home. The squad is already small as it is without any further enforced omissions. Playing this formation throughout the season will be extremely interesting. Potentially a great nine months to look forward to.

FT: 3 – 3

Goals for Alfreton: Platt 31, Denton 45, B Johnson 85 (pen)

Goals for Harriers: Bradley 22, Richards 47, Ironside 67

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Alfreton Town Goals Subs Time Cards
B Johnson      
Hotte   73  
King   83  
Bateson   83  
Chettle   73  
Harriers Goals Subs Time Cards
R Johnson        
Chambers   46  
Richards 46  
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