|Venue: Stonebridge Road Date: 26-08-23 Ebbsfleet Utd 3 Harriers 0 Att: 1356 (away fans: 116)
Harriers bereft of ideas and made to pay
Kidderminster Harriers’ return to the Conference finally came back down to earth with a thump after three first half goals earned Ebbsfleet United a well deserved home victory. A Dominic Poleon brace and an all too-easy tap in by defender Luke O’Neill meant the Fleet were three goals to the good before half time.
Kidderminster’s problems were exacerbated by Alex Penny’s dismissal for two bookings minutes before O’Neill struck. It meant the away side has still never beaten Ebbsfleet United at their Stonebridge Road ground since their rebrand in 2007.
Now, after five opening games, the Harriers have only won once – and while two draws will provide cause for optimism, Poleon scored as many goals in one game as Harriers have all season so far, amid intensifying clamours for more firepower up front. The defeat leaves them 16th in the table. No bad finishing position for a newly promoted side, but one that will feel premature to be in so early on.
The opening exchanges were evenly fought. Chances for Harriers from distance were spurned well over the bar by Ashley Hemmings and Zak Brown. For the home side, creative work by Ebbsfleet saw a incisive through ball played behind Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain to a marauding Ben Chapman on the left, but his cross was overhit and the chance cleared. However as the half wore on sparky interplay between Poleon and Nathan Odokonyero was causing Harriers increasing worries at the back. It culminated in Ebbsfleet’s opener on 24 minutes.
A ball forward forced a mistake by Kristian Pearce, which Poleon seized on. Holding off a flagging Pearce he advanced on Christian Dibble’s goal and cooly chipped it over the Harriers keeper.
Seven minutes later the Ebbsfleet lead doubled. The nifty Odokonyero dummied a ball that was played into him outside the Harriers goal, Poleon nipped in behind him and slotted the ball under Dibble. All too simple.
The home side were now fully in control and the problems for the Harriers worsened when Penny was sent off five minutes later. Having been booked, Penny was caught diving in late on an Ebbsfleet player just inside the home side’s half. The referee Jamie O’Connor, who was a Conference North official until February this year, duly went and showed the centre half his second yellow.
The away side briefly responded well. Zak Brown, playing on the left of a three of Gerry McDonagh and Ashley Hemmings was fed the ball from a McDonagh cross from the right hand side. He took a touch, opened up his body outside the left of the Ebbsfleet area and shot across goal which was well palmed away by goalkeeper Mark Cousins.
However on a day of train strikes it felt like it was the Harriers’ players had also downed tools in an admirable but misplaced sense of solidarity. Three minutes into added time the home side sealed their comprehensive win when Luke O’Neill finished from inside the area when a cleared cross was chipped back into the area and all of Russ Penn’s defence and goalkeeper left it for each other to finish. O’Neill did so.
HT: 3 – 0
The second half was uneventful. Kai Lissimore, on for the talismanic Joe Leesley, blazed Harriers’ best chance over the bar after a well worked ball into the right of the area by Pearce. Ebbsfleet missed more chances to further turn the screw on Harriers with misses from inside the area. However down to ten men, Kidderminster offered only minimal resistance.
The rest of the game petered out, but this reporter had to leave at 80 minutes to beat the RMT curfew.
(Ed: I’ll fill the bits in for what it’s worth). Kieran Phillips came on for Krystian Pearce, after the referee subbed himself through injury, and one of his first moves was to break through onto the Fleet goal but his feet got mixed up and the keeper collected the ball from the stumbling striker. Another chance came minutes later but it was the same result with Phillips looking for someone to play in and found there was no one there.
(Back to Harry) While this was only the Harriers’ second defeat this season, it was the one which will raise more concerns. The game never looked within their realistic reach and the guile, movement and initiative by the Ebbsfleet attack, particularly the peerless Poleon was unmatched. In some ways it was similar to the work of Sammy Austin, Omari Sterling-James and Ashley Hemmings two seasons ago.
For a side which has struggled for goals and looked bereft of ideas at Stonebridge Road today Russ Penn could do worse than study the attacking play of Dennis Kutrieb’s men.
FT: 0 – 0
Goals for Ebbsfleet Utd: Poleon 23, 30, O’Neill 45
The Harriers Online MotM is: Barry Maguire . Best of a bad bunch, but a 6 among a field of 5’s and 4’s
Talk about the game here
Latest table and stats here
|Mr Jamie O’Connor