FA Cup 4th round
Match report Vs West Ham Utd Venue: Aggborough Date: 05-02-22 Att: 5327 (away fans: 1634)

05-02-22 - Report - FA Cup 4th rd - Kidderminster Harriers 1 West Ham Utd 2 (aet)

Last minute goals break the Harriers hearts

Report: Harriershane

Well, that was exciting wasn’t it?

Harriershane waiting for the game to begin
Harriershane waiting for the game to begin

Twenty eight years ago West Ham Utd came to Aggborough and cruelly denied the Harriers a famous upset in a game that is still talked about to this day. Twenty eight years on West Ham Utd returned to Aggborough and cruelly denied Harriers the biggest upset in FA Cup history in a game that will be talked about until the end of our collective days.

Yes, this was a generational event with the outside of the stadium agog with fans and the media; a radio station here, a news reporter there. Micah Richards dancing to Harriers chants here, world cup winner Sir Geoff Hurst being poached for a photo there. As you do.

Given Harriers had played seven games since the victory over Reading FC at the start of January, many fans were hoping that the run of games wouldn’t catch up with them at the worst possible time whilst there had been plenty of debate on which stars David Moyes would send onto the pitch. The answer to that was quite a few to start with; Said Benrahma, a £30 million player, Alphonse Arreola on loan from Paris St Germain, former Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma – these weren’t kids, but some of the cream of the crop in the English game. After all, The Hammers are fifth in the Premier League.

For Harriers, the main question was over where Geraldo Bajrami would be employed. As it happened he reprised his new role alongside Mark Carrington in midfield, allowing an inspired Matt Preston to continue at centre half. Understandably, the Harriers were rather nervous in the opening exchanges with their more illustrious opponents taking charge of the game immediately.

Barely seeing the ball in the first five minutes, you would be forgiven for thinking Harriers were in for the longest of long days when Ben Johnson fired over but they eventually settled. Efforts from Sam Austin and Ashley Hemmings from outside the area were sent goalwards, on target but straight at Arreola. As the game progressed the Harriers began to believe a little more and went in search of their opposition who began making errors.

Young fans at the West Ham game
Young fans at the West Ham game

One of those would prove to be costly – Issa Diop conceding a free kick out wide and what happened next was unfathomable. Omari Sterling-James whipped the ball into the box and Areola was uncomfortable as Diop knocked into him; the ball broke free and Alex Penny coolly dispatched the ball to send Aggborough into an absolute frenzy and bring the footballing world to a near standstill.

Never had a Tier 6 side beaten a Premier League side, but at that exact moment in time, it was happening. Every single one of the 113 places between the two sides had been bridged, and crossed. If you were there, savour it. If you were watching on TV, savour it.

Harriers were doing the unthinkable in front of the great and the good, against the great and the good. If you thought Sterling-James wasn’t going to try and get in on the act with a goal of his own, you would be mistaken as he sent a free kick goalwards. Just wide, unfortunately. The Hammers were wobbling, as David’s slingshots were catching Goliath.

Arguably the Harriers were comfortably the better team and deservedly in front. Even when the Hammers were trying to get back into the game, they were somewhat laboured with Harriers on their every touch. Make no doubt about it, this was deserved – words backed up by the media pundits at half time.

Talking of half time, Harriers were winning 1-0. Let’s say that again. At half time, on the TV, Kidderminster Harriers of the National League North were leading West Ham Utd, fifth in the Premier League, 1-0.

HT: 1 – 0

One of the reasons for Harriers being in front was the, frankly, immense Matt Preston who didn’t miss a thing. With the second half just seven minutes old, the Harriers had penalty appeals waved away for a potential handball before Jarrod Bowen went close for the visitors, denied only by a superb block from Luke Simpson.

Harriers defend a corner against West Ham
Harriers defend a corner against West Ham

Benrahma was the next to test his luck as the superior quality of the Hammers began to show through – Simpson again alive to the danger. The effort expended from Harriers was starting to show as they became leggy and allowing their opposition to take control.

Lewis Montrose was the first Harrier to be introduced from the bench, replacing Mark Carrington whilst David Moyes was being forced into throwing on the big boys. Declan Rice had come on at the break, joined later by the likes of Tomas Soucek and Pablo Fornals, amongst others. Devonte Redmond entered the fray for us with thirteen minutes to go and as the minutes ticked by belief values slowly but surely crept up.

The hand of history was on Harriers’ shoulders, but Lady Luck’s mask slipped right at the last minute.

Three minutes of added time was signalled. One hundred and eighty seconds between Harriers and immortality. Sixty seconds into that extra time Declan Rice decided to shatter our dreams by lashing home past Simpson with a powerful finish before dancing on our graves. At least, that’s how it felt, but we had another half an hour to contend with now.

FT: 1 – 1

As mentioned above whilst Rice was jigging the Harriers were despairing – on their knees in fact having given it all. We had to expect a Hammer onslaught and they were only denied a second goal halfway through the first half of extra time by an exceptional block from Caleb Richards who atoned for a miskick earlier in the move.

The team applaud the fans at the West Ham game
The team applaud the fans at the West Ham game

Jaiden White and Keziah Martin were next to enter the fray, replacing Ashley Hemmings and Amari Morgan-Smith, both of whom had left absolutely everything out on the pitch. In truth, extra time passed quite quickly although there was a scare when West Ham thought they’d pinched it. Despair turned to elation upon the realisation that the goal would be ruled out for offside meaning the game would meander towards penalties.

Could the Harriers take them all the way? If a late equaliser to deny the winner was cruel, a winner with just seconds left of extra time was just sadistic.

In a move not too dissimilar to Rice’s goal, the ball was worked well down the wing after a good through ball between the lines. Somehow the ball bounced to Jarrod Bowen – who else – and the kid from Hereford broke Harriers hearts by tapping in from the closest of distances.

It was gutting, of course, but the overriding emotion is one of sheer, unadulterated pride in our team. The hand of history may have directed us into the Heartbreak Hotel on this occasion, but boy oh boy did we shock the biggest and the best this country has to offer, winning a nation over in the process.

Football, eh? Bloody hell.

AET: 1 – 2

Goal for Harriers: Penny 19

Goals for West Ham: Rice 91, Bowen 121

The Harriers Online MotM is: Matt Preston

Talk about the game here

Latest table and stats here

Harriers Goals Subs Time Cards
Carrington   71  
Austin   78  
Bajrami   112  
Morgan-Smith   106  
Hemmings   101  
Lowe   112  
Montrose   71  
Martin   106  
White   101  
Redmond   78  
West Ham Utd Goals Subs Time Cards
Diop   46  
Johnson   62  
Noble   62  
Kral   46  
Vlasic   76  
Dawson   46  
Cresswell   62  
Rice 46  
Soucek   62  
Fornals   76  
Mr Jonathan Moss