Date: 18-05-22 The 21-22 season in review. Part 1 By Harriershane

18-05-22 - Opinion - The 21-22 season in review. Part 1

The last time we did one of these the Harriers had worked their way through a few managers and something called Covid-19 intervened. We then had a curtailed campaign in 2020/21 after a few months behind closed doors, so the 2021/22 was the first season back with fans. And didn’t they come out, in the end.

A snippet from that previous season review:

“In the weeks following the end of the season the Harriers announced that Russ Penn had been given the manager’s job permanently, to be assisted by Jimmy O’Connor in a move that was widely supported. It’s all in his (Penn’s) hands now”

So, what happened then?

It all started back in August 14th, at York City’s brand new LNER Community Stadium. As expected the Harriers turned into party poopers, turning the Minstermen over in a tough clash decided by Sam Austin’s deflected effort. We then ascended to the top of the tree for the only time this season as we brushed aside Blyth Spartans 3-0. A battling draw against Southport followed before a Bank Holiday Monday victory over a lacklustre Chester FC side.

Sam Austin
Sam Austin
Scored the goal to spoil York Citys big day

The unbeaten run would enter September with a goalless draw with ten men against Guiseley AFC before Gateshead killed the invincibles dream with an attacking display that hinted at their eventual finish as Champions.

Then the FA Cup dream started; The Harriers travelled to Wolverhampton to take on Step 4 side Sporting Khalsa in a game played and received in a great spirit. A Nyal Bell brace did the job to see us through before Harriers then fell to defeat in the league at Mill Farm, home of AFC Fylde.

Another Step 4 side were up next in the Cup, this time it was a return to Ware FC fourteen years after our only previous visit there, also in the FA Cup. In torrential rain the lower league side pegged us back late on to force an Aggborough replay and we also lost Walsall loanee Joe Foulkes to injury after he had displaced Alex Penny. The former Boston Utd man stepped into the breach and three days later he scored his first professional goal in the replay. The ascension of Penny had begun.

Brackley Town then beat us at Aggborough a few days later (don’t they always?) before we got a third away game in the cup and to another Step 4 side.

In the shadow of Heathrow Airport the Harriers came up against a totally unknown club to us, Bedfont Sports and flew into the 1st Round Proper with a narrow 1-0 win and another great day out for the fans. A cup run!

Keith Lowe
Keith Lowe

Bradford Park Avenue were then swept aside after a 5-1 demolition job before a creditable 1-1 draw at Chorley FC followed. Spennymoor Town were then demolished 4-0 before it was time for the cup once more.

It hadn’t been kind, pairing us with high flying National League side Grimsby Town. We were without the excellent Geraldo Bajrami due to suspension so there was a little bit of trepidation as Keith Lowe stepped into the breach. An ice-cool Ashley Hemmings penalty caused the upset but that was overshadowed by the birth of a legend. “KEEEEEEEEEEEIIIIITTTTHHHH”. The veteran rolled back the years to turn in a display of the highest order and birth his own mug and t-shirt. Well deserved, in my book.

Thoughts of the cup being a distraction couldn’t be further from the truth though as the Harriers played four games between the 1st and 2nd rounds of the cup. They went as follows: AFC Telford Utd 3-0 victory at home, Alfreton Town 4-1 victory away, Gloucester City 3-1 victory away including a Sam Austin goal of the season contender. He finished third in the end of season official poll and a worthy second in the Harriers Online poll.

Our FA Trophy journey also started, at Edgar Street of all places. A 1-1 draw against Hereford FC after 90 minutes meant it went to penalties with Jaiden White doing the honours in front of the home end to send us through.

Back to the FA Cup. FC Halifax Town, a high flying National League side, came to Aggborough (sense a theme yet). Much like their Grimsby counterparts they were sent packing. Harriers flew out of the traps and were two goals to the good inside twenty minutes; Amari Morgan-Smith and Hemmings doing the damage to send us flipping into the 3rd Round.

Time for a big boy then! …….

Photo © KHFC

Part 2 is available here