|Venue: Aggborough Date: 09-09-23 Harriers 1 Rochdale AFC 1 Att: 2507 (away fans: 288)
Harriers score their first home goal in the heat
Report: Phil Lench
The Harriers finally managed to score at home for the first time this season when a Joe Leesley scorcher put us into the lead at home to Rochdale AFC today. In weather so hot you could have fried an egg on the centre spot it was a goal that was long overdue after recording three scoreless draws so far in this campaign. Sadly we couldn’t hold onto the lead when Ethan Ebanks-Landell scored with a powerful header late in the second half but at least it was a start.
In front of another good crowd the Harriers again kicked off towards the ‘wrong’ end but on this occasion it made no difference. With both teams starting slowly due to the heat it was an evenly balanced start with possibly Rochdale looking the better team due to their ability to pass the ball to each other while we pressed them into mistakes and then cleared the ball away upfield.
For all Dales passing they didn’t make any headway and it was the Reds that came up with the early chances. One for Amari Morgan-Smith as he closed their keeper down into trying to make him panic while Reiss McNally tried a shot from distance, following a corner, but their was no power behind it and Louis Moulden, on loan from Wolves, gathered easily.
Soon after that effort we took the lead when Jack Lambert worked his way into the area and supplied the ball in for Leesley to hammer it home.
We then began to take the game more and more to the Dale following the goal but they held firm with the keeper coming to the rescue many times. AMS got a shot away that Moulden tipped away while the visitors responded with a breakaway chance that went across the face of Christian Dibbles goal and looking for all the world like it was going to go in.
Lambert sent one over the bar and Kairo Mitchell, for Dale, forced Dibble to back pedal as he tried to lob him but somehow the tall Harriers keeper managed to get back and flip it over the bar. Into first half injury time and Caleb Richards found space on the left to collect a passed ball but his shot went wide of the upright.
HT: 1 – 0
The second half of the game was also played at a relaxed pace and who could blame them with the heat rising. The only difference was the referee had thought he’d been overlooked too much in the first half and decided that this half he was going to be the star of the show booking Harriers players for the slightest offence yet ignoring similar from Dale players.
Caleb had another shot that was blocked by the outstretched legs of the keeper while Leesley blew another chance to score when his shot was ent wildly over the bar and into the roof of the South Stand. Rochdale began to up their game once the substitutions got under way and with the arrival of Jimmy Keohane they took the upper hand with the fast midfielder getting into the area as much as possible. Everytime he had the ball he looked a threat.
That superiority began to show when Ebanks-Landell gave first warning of his danger from corners with a header that Dibble held onto but that wasn’t the case a few minutes later when the former team mate of AMS at Wolves powered into the path of another corner to send the ball into the back of the net. We knew it was coming and fully deserved.
Russ Penn began to make changes after that but, to my mind, the wrong changes. I would have taken off the tiring AMS and Ashley Hemmings for Gerry McDonagh and Kieran Phillips but instead AMS was left to struggle on while Lambert made way for Zak Brown. Zaks first touch of the ball should have been a penalty awarded when he was tripped in the box but the ref decided he’d dived and booked him for it.
Five minutes later Phillips came on for Hemmings and then two minutes from the end of normal time on came McDonagh for Amari!
In the eight minutes of added on time it was Dale that came the closest to grabbing a winning goal when the sub Jesurun Uchegbulam forced Dibble into a great save at the foot of the post while Phillips broke free of his marker but his shot was weak and scuffed and went nowhere near goal.
The game ended all square and, bearing in mind the conditions, it was a fair result for two teams that were two divisions apart last season.
FT: 1 – 1
Goal for Harriers: Leesley 18
Goal for Rochdale: Ebanks-Landell 75
The Harriers Online MotM is: Caleb Richards
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|Mr Paul Johnson