This match report could and should have been oh so different, Harriers let a very comfortable and convincing lead slip away due to some iffy refereeing decisions and a defensive mistake.
A much changed Harriers with a plethora of new signings and a new management duo took to the field for the opening league game of the season in high spirits, with a very unusual three subs warming the bench. The usual home formation of 4-4-2 included experienced new centre half Chris Robinson, a handy acquisition due to his versatility, a player who brings some voice to the side and reads the game very well. Ben Harbridge who had played a few games for Harriers previously has signed on permantly this season, who despite his awful hair and shockingly awful boots adds more pace on either wing. Zak Whitelock and Joe Thompson provide a new frontline for the Harriers this season with Stevie Bruce's nose deciding to ply its trade elsewhere. Due to injuries Harriers legend Ray Duke may take no part in the playing side this season, so he is now in charge of the team with old stalwart Tommy Drew, who is also nursing a knee injury.
A good start from Harriers saw plenty of pressure early on, with Witley Wanderers not providing much of a threat to our strong defense. Duke and Drew decided to switch Mumford and Harbridge from either wing, and this provided the opening goal after 28 mins. Some good work from Mumford, cutting inside and crossing to the backpost for Harbridge who took the ball superbly, rounded the keeper, waited 20 mins, adjusted his hair and side footed it between two defenders on the line; 1-0 Harriers.
The buoyant crowd didnt have to wait long for the next goal as Ivan Astin had a tame freekick palmed into the path of Joe who wasnt ruled offside, he lifted it over the keeper; 2-0 Harriers.
What was to follow was a string of missed opportunities for the Harriers, including a few one on ones, but try as they might, nothing seemed to be coming off. At half time the management duo knew that one more goal would probably put an end to the lacklustre Wanderers. Unfortunately this did not materialise, and would prove to be our downfall. With all three subs made going into the last ten minutes, things were looking comfortable until a very iffy decision by a regularly indecisive referee put the Wanderers back in a game that shouldve been out of site. A ball across the six yard line from the left evaded everyone but Ryan Souter was adjudged to have hauled down a Wanderers striker. The fans didnt seem too happy with the decision, but the referee pointed to the spot from 40 yards away. The resulting penalty was saved by keeper Luke Harman, a spectator for much of the game, but the rebound was tucked home; 2-1 Harriers.
Three minutes came the dreaded and wholly undeserved equaliser, a tame cross from the right hand side was palmed down into the path of the Wanderers striker who took the ball and tucked it home from a tight angle; 2-2.
That is how the game would finish, the performance not too disappointing, but a draw that certainly should have been a win.