FA Cup 3rd round
Match report Vs Reading FC Venue: Aggborough Date: 08-01-22 Att: 5178 (away fans: 1458)

08-01-22 - Report - FA Cup 3rd rd - Kidderminster Harriers 2 Reading FC 1

Harriers give Reading a right Royal pasting

Report: Harrieshane

FA Cup Third Round. Championship opposition. Harriers win. End of report.

That’s all you need to know, but let’s relive it shall we? As our very own Phil said, in his article with Berkshire Live, Harriers fans will want to be watching us in the hat on Sunday evening whilst the Reading fans will be stuck watching Call The Midwife. A sound prediction.

The day started early with BBC Football Focus emanating from Aggborough, and the Harriers Arms, with Alex Scott, Jermaine Beckford and Leon Osman in attendance. Eventually the game came around though and, amid speculation over the strength of what side Reading manager Veljko Paunovic would put out, we discovered that although it was a changed side it was by no means a bunch of inexperienced kids being thrust into the (non-existent) limelight.

Five of the squad from their game with Derby County were either starting or on the bench, whilst former Premier League winner Danny Drinkwater started in midfield. Harriers manager Russ Penn was able to name his full strength eleven, hoping that there would be no ring rust from our enforced lay off over Christmas – thanks Hereford and Kettering!

To the game then and Reading took control of the ball early, retaining possession comfortably without ever really threatening the Harriers backline until the eleventh minute when a loose Luke Simpson goal kick gave Mamadi Camara a chance. Fortunately the Harriers stopper was able to redeem himself whilst Geraldo Bajrami handed everyone of a Harriers persuasion a scare as he went down. Luckily the damage wasn’t terminal and he carried on.

In truth, that was the sum of the opening twenty minutes or so with the Harriers beginning to settle into the game and the occasion. With twenty five minutes played an Ashley Hemmings corner found Bajrami but Rafael Cabral – a former Serie A goalkeeper with three caps for Brazil – was equal to it.

Just after the half hour the partisan crowd were appealing for a Harriers penalty after Bajrami had released Hemmings down the right. Whilst he was brought down, the ball broke to Amari Morgan-Smith who sent a shot goalwards but again Cabral was equal to it.

The Brazilian was more than equal to the next passage of play producing a top draw save to deny an Omari Sterling-James effort that had so much dip on it that McDonalds have just started charging 20p a sachet for it. Picking the ball up fully thirty yards from goal, the winger let fly with an effort that looked like it was going comfortably over the bar before it swerved and dipped. Was that the chance?

The following corner saw Mark Carrington flick a header over the bar as Harriers began to ask a few questions of the Championship side but just as the board for injury time was being raised the Royals were rejoicing as a famous name of the past found himself on the scoresheet. Puscas scores again (ask your Wolves supporting Great-Grandad about that Puskas). Amid questions of offside, an exquisite scoop over the top from Danny Drinkwater was taken down by Tom Dele-Bashiru before George Puscas took the ball from him and lashed home from close range.

It was harsh and undeserved, but a rare moment of Royals quality.

HT: 0 – 1

Paunovic was forced into a change at the break as he was towards the end of the first half. Alen Halilovic had pulled up lame, to be replaced by Finn Azeez, whilst the half time substitute was the former Shrewsbury midfielder, Josh Laurent, replacing the booked Tom Holmes.

Buoyed by his first half goal, the Romanian, Puscas was after another goal but fired off target. With fifty three minutes played came the first real chance of the second half for the Harriers in front of the packed out North Stand.

In prime Sterling-James territory, the marksman took aim with a low free kick which bounced wide of Cabral’s goal but a warning was there. Another chance presented itself to Harriers, this time it was Sam Austin who beat his man before fizzing a wicked shot goalwards but ultimately, just wide.

The Harriers were in the middle of a great spell with Sterling-James again dangerous before we entered a long period of enforced stoppages. The first – one of our own doing as pyrotechnics were thrown onto the field of play by some degenerates. That’s a portion of the prize money gone then! The second stoppage was an unfortunate one as Felipe Araruna experienced a bad landing after heading the ball out of play.

This was his first appearance after a significant lay off and Paunovic confirmed post-match that the suspected diagnosis was a dislocated knee. The Brazilian was stretchered off and we all hope for a speedy and successful recovery.

The game eventually restarted and just as some were lamenting the break for halting the Harriers momentum we grabbed the equaliser.

A deep ball into the box was kept alive by an Ashley Hemmings knockdown into the path of Sammy Austin, whos’ shot squirmed under the body of Cabral to spark delirium inside Aggborough. We had another short stoppage after the goal, thanks to the aforementioned wallies, but once the action got back underway there was only one side who looked like they were going to win it. It wasn’t the Championship side either.

With eighty two minutes played came the moment we had all been dreaming of. We won’t score a messier goal this season but, to the Harriers players, staff and fans, it was Puskas-award worthy.

A Hemmings corner was whipped in viciously, right under the crossbar. Amari Morgan-Smith managed to backheel it goalwards before taking a seat on the goalkeeper. An almighty scramble ensued, with nobody sure exactly what was going on, before referee Gavin Ward blew his whistle. Bugger, he’s signalling for a foul. Hold on, he’s not. He hasn’t given it, has he? He has!!! Delirium. What is going on??

With eight minutes of normal time remaining, Harriers had defied the odds and turned the tables on their illustrious visitors. Moments after the goal, with his work done, Morgan-Smith departed the field to be replaced by Ethan Freemantle who had an equally important role to play in the dying embers of the game. And boy, did he ever. If the word “flea” can ever be used as a compliment, it’s applicable here as his fresh legs and sheer bloody-mindedness helped to keep Harriers in the right half of the pitch.

Twelve minutes of injury time were announced and let’s get it right, it was a ridiculous amount but not a disproportionate amount. A combination of the pyrotechnic stoppage and the injury to Araruna accounted for it, so the nerves had to jangle for a little bit more. “They’re going to get one more chance…” They didn’t.

The Harriers held firm, managed the game well, and bounded into the Fourth Round of the FA Cup, twenty eight years after Jon Purdie et al wrote their names into Harriers folklore on this day at St Andrews.

In twenty eight years time this game will be recalled with the same fondness for those in attendance. The Royals were dethroned by a team from the National League North. But not just any old team: our team. Kidderminster Harriers.

What a feeling. The draw is on Sunday, we can’t be overlooked again can we? Surely not…

FT: 2 – 1

Goals for Harriers: Austin 68, Morgan-Smith 81

Goal for Reading FC: Puscas 46

The Harriers Online MotM is: Geraldo Bajrami. Enjoy him while we can.

Talk about the game here

Latest table and stats here

Harriers Goals Subs Time Cards
Martin   94  
Morgan-Smith 84  
Sterling-James   101  
Montrose   94  
Freemantle   84  
White   101  
Reading FC Goals Subs Time Cards
Tetek   58  
Holmes   46
Drinkwater   57  
Halilovic   39  
Araruna   58 / 63  
Stickland   63  
Laurent   46  
Rinamota   57
Azeez   39  
Mr Gavin Ward