Date: 20-05-22 The 21-22 season in review. Part 2 By Harriershane

20-05-22 - Opinion - The 21-22 season in review. Part 2

……. In part 1 of this season review we read that we had played four FA Cup games before that big boy game, three of them away from home but first of all came the league and the trophy. Following the FC Halifax Town cup game Boston Utd were defeated and we escaped with a draw up at Curzon Ashton, before the Pilgrims got their revenge over a rotated Harriers side in the FA Trophy.

Alex Penny
Alex Penny
FA Cup fame with his goal against the mighty West Ham Utd

In the FA Cup draw any hopes of drawing Liverpool or Manchester Utd were dashed as we got paired with Championship strugglers Reading FC. Rejected by TV, but with some media interest, the Royals came to Aggborough and regicide was committed and celebrated with aplomb.

A George Puskas goal just before half time had sent the higher ranked side into the break a goal to the good but a Sammy Austin effort snuck in to give Harriers hope, before Amari Morgan-Smith caused scenes beamed around the world as he sat on the goalkeeper to turn an effort home. Even better was the fact that it was fully deserved.

By now we all knew that “Kiddy were massive”. Surely now a big boy would come calling and boy they did, historically significant it was as well. We had been paired, at home, with David Moyes’ West Ham Utd and the world watching in. Before then though was the small matter of seven big league games in three weeks.

Wins over Darlington FC, York City, Kettering Town and Leamington FC kept up the momentum, with just one defeat in that sequence (Hereford FC away). Match of the Day was up next and the Harriers v West Ham game was the Saturday 12:30 kick off, with the great and the good of the country’s media teams descended on Aggborough for this novel game.

Matt Preston
Matt Preston
The plaudits and then the pain

If Harriers were to win they would need to create history against one of the biggest teams in the Premier League. It wasn’t a bad Hammers side either with many first team regulars turning out against little old us. Morgan-Smith made a mockery of Kurt Zouma, a Ukranian international made a fool of himself and Alex Penny sidefooted the Harriers into a lead that sent everyone into dreamland. Unless you were a West Ham supporter, of course. A double helping of heartbreak was to ensue though.

Some player called Declan Rice pulled them level in the ninety first minute (who’s he? Ha!) before Jarrod Bowen completed the job with the last kick of extra time, the one hundredth and twenty first minute, to send West Hereford, sorry, West Ham, through. The Harriers had won the hearts and minds of the nation with their performance in “El Massivo” with the experts from Match of the Day in raptures over our performance.

Now that the fun was over, it was time to refocus on the league. Sat in third place hopes were high for a promotion push but that was soon to derail. Our Solihull Moors loanee Matt Preston, a colossus in that West Ham game, was seriously injured in the abandoned game against Alfreton Town before we seemed to run out of steam. Post West Ham started well, with three consecutive wins, but the month of March was a tough one on paper and it played out that way as we collected only five points from a possible eighteen; the sole win a 5-0 demolition of Curzon Ashton.

April, similarly, saw a couple of false starts in the form of a 6-0 thrashing of Southport and a comfortable 3-0 defeat of Guiseley AFC but that was interspersed with defeat in the re-arranged Alfreton game and a terrible defeat at Leamington as the Harriers confirmed their play off berth.

Mark Carrington
Mark Carrington
Time to take it easy

Finishing fourth the Harriers had to play an eliminator against the seventh place team and that would be Boston Utd, at Aggborough, after they snuck in on the final day. They were the better team on the night with the Sheffield Utd loanee, Femi Seriki, turning in a top class performance before their other Blades loanee, Marcus Dewhurst, produced a world class save to deny Ashley Hemmings. The former Pilgrim got himself on the scoresheet to pull us level and give everybody hope of progression but it wasn’t to be. Boston went on to beat AFC Fylde in the semi final before facing York City in the final tomorrow.

According to the bookies odds pre-season, Harriers were expected to finish between 8 and 11th, so to finish fourth is an obvious overachievement whilst the FA Cup run created legends of this Class of 21/22.

After the dust had settled it was announced that Lewis Montrose, Nyal Bell and Luke Simpson were to leave the club, with Simpson’s move a mutual one due to travel commitments. Mark Carrington opted to retire from football and won the Official goal of the season award for his strike against Chester FC in August. Also leaving was club legend Keith Lowe who is leaving the full time game to move into teaching and playing part time.

Sam Austin, Keziah Martin, Ethan Freemantle, Kai Lissimore, Amari Morgan-Smith, Ashley Hemmings, Caleb Richards and Alex Penny are all contracted for next season at the time of writing whilst Tom Palmer, Geraldo Bajrami, Omari Sterling-James, Jaiden White and Jamie Emery were all offered new contracts with Nathan Cameron and Cliff Moyo still in discussions with the club.

We wish all those who have left, or who may leave, the best of luck in their future careers and thank them for their time and effort whilst representing Harriers. As for 2022/23, who knows what that may bring?

Photo © KHFC