|Venue: Meadow Park Date: 26-12-23 Boreham Wood 1 Harriers 1 Att: 1007 (away fans: 158)
Late, late penalty gives Harriers a point
A late Ashley Hemmings penalty won Kidderminster Harriers a fortuitous point on the road at Boreham Wood as the Harriers’ were lifted off the bottom of the National League by AFC Fylde’s defeat at Rochdale AFC. Otherwise it was another tepid performance by Russ Penn’s side.
He started with two strikers after Amari Morgan-Smith and Gold Omotayo ran Southend Utd ragged in the final stages of their home defeat three days ago. However Harriers struggled to create chances and Jack Lambert was the only player to worry the home goalkeeper Nathan Ashmore. Boreham Wood were no better but they exploited the Harriers’ nervousness at corners to get the opener after forty nine minutes.
The Harriers made three changes from the side that lost against Southend with Alex Penny returning to the side to play on the left side of a back three, Caleb Richards stepped off the bench to provide width at left wing back and Morgan-Smith started after his terrorising cameo just days before.
Boreham Wood were looking to respond to shipping six goals against near neighbours Barnet on Saturday. They boasted Lee Ndlovu up front, who Harriers fans had bad memories from after his time at Brackley Town. However, like Southend, they are hampered with injuries and manager Luke Garrard could only name three substitutes.
It was the home side who threatened first as Ndlovu had a header go wide after five minutes when he beat Penny to the ball in the first exchange in their ding-dong battle up front. Harriers fans had their hearts in their mouths ten minutes later when left back Charles Clayden curled an effort wide from the edge of the area.
Unsurprisingly the Harriers’ forward line looked like it had only three days to gel. Morgan-Smith and Omotayo often challenged for the same balls or got in each other’s way. However the new signing had the best opportunity to open the scoring when the ball was played across to him on the right side of the area, but he chose to take a touch rather than shoot first time and it was easily cleared by ‘The Wood’s’ defence.
Just before half time Harriers had their best chance when a Richards cross was nodded down by Morgan-Smith to the industrious Lambert, whose half volley flew wide.
HT: 0 – 0
The second half saw Boreham Wood take the initiative from the off and culminated in them taking the lead. In a great flowing move Ndlovu won the ball on the left side of the pitch, just past the half way line. He drove on and passed the ball out wide to Erico Sousa, a permanent thorn in Harriers’ side on the right wing. The Portuguese winger cut inside, passed the ball across the face of goal to Ndlovu whose shot down low was tipped wide by Dibble.
The moment of relief was temporary. A corner from the right was headed in by defender Billy Sass-Davies for the opener.
Penn responded quickly by taking off Matt Preston and Omotayo for Hemmings and Ryan McLean and they went either side of Morgan-Smith in a 4-3-3. McLean had a chance shortly after as he threw himself at a cross from the left but it didn’t trouble Ashmore’s goal.
The rest of the half looked to be playing out without any incident. Hemmings looked lively on the left but Harriers’ were often isolated in possession and his crosses went unmet. Lambert had the only shot on target on eighty minutes, after work by Morgan-Smith and Hemmings, but it was comfortably saved. He was Harriers’ best player, always looking for the ball and looking to try and develop play – but often found himself isolated and unsupported by his teammates.
However nobody, probably not even the Chief himself, had expected the last minute turn of events. A long ball from Harriers was headed away but only as far as Krystian Pearce. He beat three players as he made his way into the area and then threw himself into the Boreham Wood centre half. The referee, to the surprise of everyone, pointed to the spot. Cue Hemmings’ usual trot up to the penalty, which he dispatched.
The goal sparked wild celebrations, whitewashing what was a disjointed and underwhelming performance. The turnaround will be disappointing for Boreham Wood, who themselves are only four points from safety.
The Harriers fans sang into the Boxing Day air, but a final one at the end of “Russell Penn’s Yellow and Blue army” was quieter and sounded hollow. Penn mouthed “thank you” at the fans – but he knows the pressure he is under. Harriers are five points from safety – but based on today’s performance, staying up would be a plot twist that even those at nearby Elstree Studios would find too far fetched. Then again, they would never have written about the nine match unbeaten run either, would they?
FT: 1 – 1
Goal for Boreham Wood: Sass-Davies 49
Goal for Harriers: Hemmings (pen) 91
The Harriers Online MotM is: Jack Lambert
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|Mr Callum Walchester