|Venue: Aggborough Date: 20-01-24 Harriers 4 Aldershot Town 2 Att: 3089 (away fans: 284)
The floodgates open as the Phil Brown effect take place
Report: Phil Lench
The Harriers got the Phil Brown era off to a start that none of us actually thought possible, let alone believable. For the first time since the play-off semi final at Kings Lynn have we managed that and it came in front of a former Kings Lynn manager too with Tommy Widdrington now leading Aldershot Town although he wasn’t in charge of them at the time.
The changes to our starting eleven were minimal with the major ones being the return of Zak Brown after a month on the sidelines and the debut of our new loan signing Sam Bellis from Barrow AFC. The other two differences to last week was Amari Morgan-Smith instead of Gold Omotayo and Reiss McNally replacing the injured Sam Robinson. There was no place for Kieran Phillips now that his loan spell at Havant & Waterlooville has now come to an end.
With both sides fired up in an effort to correct previous recent performances the game got underway at a hundred miles an hour with the Harriers possibly having the edge in terms of possession. That soon changed though when the Shots took a surprise lead following an Ashley Hemmings mistake out wide that Olly Scott pounced on to play the ball in towards goal, via Laurent Tolaj, that Josh Stokes easily slotted beyond Cristian Dibble.
It wasn’t the start we had all be looking forward to and that feeling wasn’t helped when we went two goals down later on. Up until then we battled hard to try and get back into the game but, when Theo Widdrington played a through ball for Tolaj, Alex Penny and Reiss McNally both chased after him into the area. Although they both held back from touching him the wind must have taken Tolaj when he went down like a sack of spuds with the referee pointing to the spot. Cian Harries stepped up and put the ball beyond Dibble.
It didn’t see the Reds head drop and we continued to play our new style of threatening football that wasn’t giving the opposition any chance of keeping possession or creating anything with it if they actually had any in the first place.
Five minutes after the visitors second goal parity got underway. After the earlier soft penalty the referee seemed to even things up when Morgan-Smith broke into the area and got upended. Up stepped Hemmings to finish his Bruno Fernandes style run up with the ball hitting the back of the net and, with it, a lifeline for the Harriers. That lifeline got stronger eight minutes later when perseverance from Jack Lambert and Caleb Richards ended with the ball into the area for Hemmings to smash home his second of the day and drew us level.
HT: 2 – 2
It wasn’t long after the break that the game got turned on its head as Morgan-Smith got in on the scoring act when he got onto the end of Alex Pennys cross into the area and headed the ball home to put is charge of the game. By this time Aldershot were a shell of the team that had started the game with two goals. Their star boy Josh Stokes had hardly seen the ball since the first fifteen minutes and their defence was being run ragged by a team on a mission.
We could have increased our lead further when, again, AMS was bought down in the area but this time Hemmings wasn’t so lucky with his run up and shot with the Shots rookie keeper, Jasper Sheik, guessing correctly and pushing the ball away. Not that it mattered because it wasn’t long until the fourth go did arrive.
Gold Omotayo hadn’t been on the pitch long when his big chance came. Poor concentration from an Aldershot man saw Hemmings rob him of the ball and race forward with Gold in support. His shot wasn’t the best and was, again, parried by Sheik but only as far as Omotayo who made no mistake grabbing his second goal of the season.
By this time Aldershot seemed to have given up or was it that they couldn’t cope with our football as we went in search of a fifth goal. Sadly it wasn’t to come but there was no effort spared in trying to get it. Frustrations started to surface for the visitors when Tolaj went in hard on McNally but it wasn’t helped when Matt Preston got involved, stupidly, and pushed Tolaj away. The referee saw sense and just booked them both although on any other day Matty would have been given his marching orders.
With six minutes of added time there was still an opportunity to add a fifth goal but AMS’s late header was well saved by Sheik. Not that it mattered because we had got the win through sheer effort and passion and that was something that we hadn’t seen under Russ Penn for a long, long time. Gone was the cautious football of old with the intention of a point and in came the cavalier approach that demanded attacking football to get the fans on the edges of their seats.
Long may it continue and that starts at Hartlepool Utd this coming Tuesday. More of that today can only see us, rightfully, rise up the table and out of the relegation places.
Thank you Phil Brown for giving us hope.
FT: 4 – 2
Goals for Aldershot: Stokes 6, Harries 25
The Harriers Online MotM is: Jack Lambert
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|Mr Steven Copeland