|Venue: Victoria Road Date: 27-01-24 Dagenham & Redbridge FC 0 Harriers 1 Att: 1675 (away fans: 209)
The Harriers great run continues at Dagenham
Kidderminster Harriers moved to within a point of climbing out of the relegation zone with a hard-fought away win against Dagenham and Redbridge FC. In what was a game of few chances Caleb Richards netted with a fine finish early in the second half. It means that Phil Brown’s side have now taken a maximum of nine points from his first three games as manager, as the Harriers’ seemingly impossible survival campaign starts to look a lot more plausible.
Brown named an attacking line-up, days after his side had ground out another away win at Hartlepool United. There was no place for Sam Bellis as the Harriers boss named a squad featuring Amari Morgan-Smith, Ashley Hemmings and Gold Omotayo. His otherwise unchanged side faced a Daggers team featuring experienced players Tom Eastham, Jake Hessenthaler and Inih Effiong.
Harriers dominated early proceedings, pressing the home side but struggling to create real chances. The best effort fell to Richards who advanced forward on the left but his cross-come-shot was held easily by Elliot Justham. Alex Penny and Jack Lambert spurned other half-chances for the Harriers.
Dagenham grew into the game, driven by lively on-loan West Ham man Keenan Appiah-Forson. On twenty minutes Josh Rees looked to have got behind the Harriers defence, squaring it across the area towards the onrushing Effiong, but Alex Penny beat him to the ball and slid in with Reiss McNally scrambling it away. Effiong had a shot from a slaloming run deflected wide before defender Sam Ling later had a header cleared off-the-line just before half time in Dagenham’s best chance of the game.
HT: 0 – 0
The second half started out in Dagenham’s favour but minutes later Harriers took the lead. Shane Byrne marauded down the left chasing a threw ball before cutting it back into the area for Caleb Richards who took a touch before firing it into the bottom corner, Justham powerless to stop it.
The home side tried to reply, Rees having another chance go over the bar, with his teammate Ling doing the same ten minutes later. It was backs to the wall with Penny, McNally and Matt Preston remaining firm. They dropped deeper with Krystian Pearce replacing Omotayo with ten minutes to go helping the gritty defensive performance.
There was still time for substitute Kai Lissimore to go close, surprising himself by being through on goal, but Justham saved comfortably. Dagenham kept coming but seconds after Dagenham substitute Harry Phipps had a header soar over the bar the referee blew the whistle to spark unsurprisingly joyous scenes among the 200 travelling Harriers fans.
It means that Harriers’ safety for the first time this season looks credible, if not still a long way off. Two gritty away wins ahead of a big games against fellow strugglers Oxford City at Aggborough on Saturday will leave the players in far better spirits than at the start of the month. A week off will give them more chance to rest and Brown to get work in on the training ground.
It means that Harriers have won three games on the bounce since they won the playoffs last summer. Woking are the side who look like they will be the ones who need catching, just a point ahead of Harriers but they have two games in hand over Kidderminster. In truth, Dagenham looked little better than the away side, even taking Harriers momentum into account – and the sides in and around them may be starting to look over their shoulder as those in the relegation places start to pick up points.
FT: 0 – 1
Goal for Harriers: Richards 51
The Harriers Online MotM is: Alex Penny
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