Kidderminster Harriers 2 County 0
County went down to a rare league defeat as promotion chasing full timers Kidderminster Harriers took the points scoring two goals without reply at a wet and windy Aggborough today.
The Minihan lite County opened the brighter of the two outfits, and might have gone in up instead of in arrears, had one or two shots that came back out off an upright instead gone in.
They didn`t though and as the first half wore on so the full time skills of Gnahoua, Ngwatala, Waite and Francis-Angol took a toll forcing County to defend for periods. That said we were cruising into added time when a mix up twixt Clarke and Hinchliffe gifted the lead to our hosts.
The second half saw JG swap Amis for Meppen-Walter early doors, and for long periods thereafter County pinned Harriers deep in their own half, and Keith Lowe was exceedingly fortunate to stay on the park, after a series of gruesome challenges failed to get a suitable response from Referee Massey-Ellis.
The waves of attacking from County, begged a quick counter and, with 10 minutes left , that`s just what happened as Ngwatala headed a left wing cross home , and try as they might…and they certainly did that…..County just could not claw their way back into it!
There were changes at 3 o`clock for County, as Minihan, Felix, Osbourne and Amis, made way for Ross, Meppen-Walter, Gonzales and Duxbury. Osbourne of course was elsewhere, Felix and Amis were on the bench, whilst Minihan was not risked following the rigours of County v FCUM. He was seen pre -match receiving treatment .We missed him.
At minutes after 3 however things looked decidedly brighter as County took the game to their full time opponents.
It was clear from early on that Harriers had identified the danger men, and both Montrose and particularly Lloyd came in for some considerable welly. Lowe and Tunnicliffe were the chief offenders, but by no means the only ones.
Meppen-Walter was doing well at this point, and drew a foul or two from Lowe and co in the process, and the ex City Hatter was unlucky to see keeper Alex Palmer save his shot 10 minutes in.
A break by Tyrell Waite added to Meppen-Walters early plaudits as he stopped his run with the cleanest of interventions.
County were after an opening goal though, and Palmer again did well to deny Ball. Gonzales by contrast….would not be denied, but as he planted his shot into the net so the liners flag went up to indicate offside.
Fifteen minutes in, and a decisive moment came and went, as Lloyd and Ball carved up the home back line with the assistance of Gonzales.
The ball finished up with Lloyd, but with Palmer no where, his shot thudded into an upright and went to safety.
A response was to be expected from Harriers, and they looked pretty dangerous, moving the ball about neatly…..Gnahoua and Francis-Angol down the left….Tyrell Waite right, with Elton Ngwatala providing the engine through the middle!
Yes they were dangerous for sure, and Montrose did really well to halt Gnahoua`s break with a classic last gasper, and then do the biz again not long after blocking a decent strike by Ngwatala following some real pressure from the home forwards.
It went on with County having to defend for a time, and reaching the 35th minute with it still 0-0, I felt that this was a good return based on the form of our opponents.
Sooner or later County would put their foot down again and with half time approaching they did, and it took all the wit and combined grit of Palmer and Ryan Croasdale to keep Lloyd out!
That was disappointing, and signalled a reply from our hosts, and it came from Gnahoua and Waite , who were somehow blocked by Hampson. They were only blocked though and it took County some time to fashion a clearance, and ease the angst, and they needed a free kick to do it.
Back came County…winning two corners, but without making either count, but doing better, with added time almost on us, as Lloyd saw another strike come back out off a post. Gonzales was onto the re-bound in a trice, but again the liner had his flag up and his shot did not count.
The next action unfortunately did as Palmer hoisted the ball into the damp Worcestershire air heading for the County goal.
It bounced and Clarke was in the vicinity, and I assumed communicating with Hinchliffe, with Gnahoua charging into the box. But….communication or not…Hinchliffe stayed on his line and when he moved it was too late as Gnahoua had put the ball into the net to give his team the lead.
There was time for another Kiddy attack to flutter and die before the referee blew for half time.
That was a disappointing end to what had been a decent half from County against tough opponents, and it was not long before JG acted to change things , bringing Amis on for Meppen-Walter, early in the second half.
James had mused recently on maybe using `two big men up front` and that was what we now had, and for long periods it looked that it might be just what was needed to unsettle and uncouple a troublesome Harriers team.
For long periods Kidderminster were on the rack, and the only answer seemed to be the dubious challenge, and time after time the referee would see the challenge….maybe give the free kick but no more.
County meanwhile were determined to get that equaliser, and Gonzales looked on aghast to see his shot saved by the keepers legs just before the hour mark.
Lloyd joined in again not long after and a great run from him might have earned County a penalty, as he crashed down in the box under pressure from Croasdale. No penalty resulted, just a corner, and more anguish for County as, going for a header, Clarke was penalised by the referee.
Have I said that Lowe had been putting himself about game long?
Well…he had…and he did again hitting Gonzales in the midriff in the box.
It was so obviously a poor foul and deserving of a yellow( in Lowe`s case a second), but the referee bottled it… settled for a chat with Lowe, and we didn`t of course get a penalty just a throw, following which with County pushing and pushing, he left Gonzales fuming on the touchline until Harriers had finally managed to club the ball clear ( through Lowe who by that time should have been testing the Worcestershire waters).
It went on with McQuilkin clattering Amis, ushering in further County attacks and much distress in the Harriers ranks. No goal came our way though, although with 17 minutes left one looked a certainty, when Lloyd slipped the perfect ball sideways into Amis`s path on the edge of the box.
It was a shoo-in really, and Amis seemed to be doing everything right…taking his time….. being measured about it, but it was an illusion and his shot drifted slowly wide of Palmer`s left hand post, with the keeper a helpless spectator!
That was tremendously disappointing, but Lloyd was not showing any of that, indeed he again set the wheels in motion for a goal with a neat/ neat pass this time to Gonzales, who was off like a ferret up a drainpipe!
It looked a goal….and Palmer looked toast as Sefton neared the box, but we had calculated without Tunnicliffe`s intervention, and he was lethal , his last ditcher stopping Gonzales in his tracks and saving the day for his team.
County kept pegging away, and I felt we looked likely to score particularly when Duxbury bullied Tyrone Williams into conceding a corner.
But this was wasted as others had been before it….and we paid the price with the very next Harriers attack, as with County stretched, Gnahoua`s cross allowed Ngwatala to stoop low and head home, putting the game more or less beyond County at 0-2.
County tried hard in the time that remained of play, but there was no way through, and referee Massey Ellis managed to excel himself by booking Lloyd for a `foul` he clearly did not see,responding to Williams` loud cry as he flung himself onto the ground.
Game and points lost then, but against a strong skilful ( if dubiously muscular) side it was no shame. Others in this division will fare no better, it is up to us to pick ourselves up from this and get back in there.
Having not lost since November…we have not suddenly become a bad side.
Let`s show everyone, starting with Chorley on Saturday.
[ See pictures of the action here.
Kidderminster Harriers line up:
Palmer, Williams, Francis-Angol, Croasdale, Lowe, Tunnicliffe, Waite( Ezewele 80) , McQuilkin, Brown( Carter 76), Ngwatala, Gnahoua.
Subs not used: Truslove, Knights, Austin.
Stockport County line up:
Hinchliffe, Ross, Clarke, Smalley( Felix 80), Hampson, Meppen-Walter( Amis 47), Montrose, Duxbury, Gonzales, Ball, Lloyd.
Subs not used: Ormson, Marsden, Brazel.