Match report Vs AFC Telford UtdVenue: Bucks HeadDate: 19-01-19Att: 1714 (away fans: 288)

19-01-19 - Report - AFC Telford Utd 0 Kidderminster Harriers 1

Depleted Harriers withstand Telford siege

Report: Harriershane

The Harriers made the short trip down the road to The New Bucks Head to face an in-form AFC Telford United whose manager Gavin Cowan had previously been linked with the vacant hotseat at Aggborough.

Following James Baxendale’s departure to Nuneaton yesterday we knew that we were down to the bare bones but the true extent was revealed when Harry Higginson started at left back, with four of the five named substitutes being either under-23 or Academy players: Tom Palmer, Milan Butterfield, Harry Stratford and Shane Lowth. New addition Liam McAlinden, on loan from Cheltenham Town, rounded off the subs bench.

The hosts had a plethora of former Harriers in their squad: James McQuilkin, Darryl Knights, Amari Morgan-Smith and Andre Brown are all plying their trade at Telford, with Matthew Barnes-Homer a player-coach these days. 

Noticeable by his absence in the dugout was Colin Gordon with Jimmy O’Connor taking charge from the sidelines where the pitch was certainly not conducive to the type of football Gordon wants to play.

The Harriers couldn’t have asked for a better start when Ashley Chambers released Nick Clayton-Phillips who smashed the ball beautifully past the Stoke City loanee keeper, Josef Bursik, after just two and a half minutes. Moments later Chambers was denied before Dan Udoh blazed over what was Telford’s first sight of goal.

The Harriers injury curse would strike once more with Brandon Hall being caught by Udoh as the striker tried to latch onto a through ball – Hall tried to continue but pulled up following a loose ball a moment or two after the incident. His replacement was Tom Palmer who showed no sign of nerves and was called into immediate action, claiming a corner with authority before turning a Knights effort round the post from range.

Telford’s gameplan seemed to consist of sending long balls downfield, but the centre half pairing of Josh Heaton and Fraser Horsfall stood tall and dealt with their aerial battles. Midway through what was a frenetic first half Higginson looked to play in Joe Ironside but Bursik was quick off his line to deny the frontman.

As is common for local derbies at any level there was plenty of spice and end to end action in this one. Amari Morgan-Smith drew a foul from Harry Higginson, who got booked for the legitimate challenge, before Knights committed a full blooded challenge on Clayton-Phillips as he looked to break, which caused handbags to fly. Heaton got involved and got a booking for his efforts, as did Knights for the poor challenge. Amazingly the Telford fans were calling for Heaton to be sent off yet ignoring the leg breaking tackle in the first instance.

The final action of the half saw Higginson claim the ball cleanly from Morgan-Smith but caused the former Harriers to go to ground with the home crowd baying for blood, fortunately the referee opted for leniency but gave them a free kick anyway that was comfortably dealt with by stand-in keeper Palmer.

HT: 0 – 1

The second half would resemble the Alamo for Harriers, with tension aplenty as Telford launched wave after wave of attacks in search of an equaliser.

Former Harriers players Knights and McQuilkin both had early efforts in the second half before Ashley Chambers was denied again by Bursik in a chance that would have possibly killed the game off. Played in over the top, the front man opted to fire across the keeper who was equal to it.

As the midway point of the half approached the game became ever more stretched as the hosts poured forward, desperately trying to find the equaliser. The Telford gameplan seemed to be to continue pumping the ball forward at every opportunity and putting in plenty of crosses, which Horsfall and Heaton were gratefully accepting time after time.

Substitute Marcus Dinanga drove an effort across goal as the game turned into its final quarter of an hour where Palmer picked up a booking for timewasting. Becoming evermore desperate Daniels tried to catch Palmer out with a ferociously driven free kick; fortunately the youngster was equal to it.

What he wasn’t equal to, though, was a corner played in with five to play. It looked like he had claimed under pressure but the ball squirmed loose sparking one hell of a scramble. It appeared that Dinanga, Shane Sutton and Knights all had stabs at the ball, with Harriers putting their bodies on the line to block, Higginson especially throwing himself at the ball to prevent a certain equaliser before Knights skied his chance from the centre of the box.

The final task for Harriers was to negotiate the five minutes of injury time, which they managed, with Dinanga wasteful for Telford, before the referee brought an end to the action, to which the 300 or so travelling Harriers fans roared their approval.

Defensive solidity may not be what you associate with Harriers, but those “old school” values of solidity, grit, determination and pride in the shirt is what got Harriers over the line today against an in form team who threw the kitchen sink at them. Factor in the injury crisis, an Academy left back and having the substitute goalkeeper making his senior league debut, and you have an exceptional result.

Could this be the start of a turnaround?

FT: 0 – 1

Goal for Harriers: Clayton-Phillips 3

The Harriers Online MotM is: Josh Heaton

Talk about the game here

Latest table and stats here

AFC Telford Utd Goals Subs Time Cards
McQuilkin   73  
Streete   73  
Morgan-Smith   71  
Morley   73  
Cowans   73  
Dinanga   71  
Harriers Goals Subs Time Cards
Hall   12  
Penn   85  
Chambers   81  
Palmer   12
McAlinden   81  
Butterfield   85  
Mr Elliott Swallow