Kidderminster Harriers 2 Stockport County 2 - FA Trophy R2
With 13 minutes remaining of the match, County were cruising 2 goals ahead of Kidderminster Harriers ,with a place seemingly booked in Round 2 of the FA Trophy, when 2 goals in 5 minutes saved the day for the home side., condemning both sides to a replay , on Tuesday, that really no one wanted.
It had been an odd game……County second best for much of the first half….took the lead as Oswell headed in Stephenson`s cross close to half time.
When Ian Ormson 's fantastic double save prevented Harriers from equalising from the spot in the second half….it looked to be County`s day…an impression that was only enhanced when Stephenson doubled the yellow shirted blues advantage with a neat strike with 20 minutes left.
Despite Harriers enjoying much possession they never really looked at all likely to put a dent in the County armour, until they did when Fraser Horsfall netted from close in after 77 minutes.
Emmanuel Sonupe added a second 4 minutes later and, after looking home and dry, County were anything but with Harriers upping the revs noticeably thereafter.
Both teams had chances in the time that remained, but even with our hosts reduced to 10 with Horsfall enjoying an early bath, it stayed 2-2 with a replay looming!
Back at 3 o`clock, the omens were not good…….Paul Marsden was reffing, and County were wearing the nations most abysmal kit…..the awful yellow jobby( there are convicts in Alcatraz with better outfits on than this one!).
County had Michael Clarke in for Chris Smalley, Ian Ormson for Ben Hinchliffe, and Rhys Turner for Matty Warburton ,and they were first onto the attack….Oswell`s surging run being cut short by good work by James O`Connor. It was the County keeper who was in action first however as Dan Bradley tested Ormson with an early snap shot.
If County were looking for Turner`s speed to bring a dividend, there was no sign of that happening at this point as Horsfall blocked his run in the box.
Kidderminster were looking a compact unit and their passing reflected this, but when Lee Vaughan pinged over a decent cross Bradley could only head over the bar when well set.
Play swung ends repeatedly…James McQuilkin`s run sorted by cool work from Ball….Stephenson lifting a shot over the bar……Ormson out to deny Joe Ironside on the break. Both keepers had action…Ormson punching clear under pressure from a Harriers free kick, and his opposite number Brandon Hall rising to snaffle a nifty cross from Adam Thomas.
Ormson was quite busy in this period and he did well to deal with Eton Ngwatala`s header with 17 minutes gone.
Twice , not long after, Oswell harried the home defence into making errors. None of these resulted in a goal but it was clear that Oswell maybe had something of a hex on Horsfall and company.
Beyond 20 minutes and still it was anyone`s with Duxbury doing well to come to Ormson`s aid as he got momentarily stranded at the extreme edge of the box, whilst at the other end only a foul , by Ryan Croasedale, could stop Turner`s run, but the free kick from this only served to put Kidderminster on the attack.
Nothing came of this….Mc Quilkin was sorted as he neared the danger zone…….but it was worrying to see set pieces wasted in this way.
Harriers continued to press- Ormson again shining, emerging from a melee clutching the ball after a series of corners had put County under pressure.
County replied through Stephenson, who won a corner, but again the set piece came to nothing when Clarke leaned on Horsfall….a fact that did not go un noticed by Mr Marsden, who I have to say wasn`t having a bad game at all( men in white coats please go immediately to 100 Range Road!).
Back came Harriers, and again Ormson did well, rising to tip Bradley`s shot over the bar.
County , with Thomas and Cowan in good nick down the right, were not slow to respond, but when they did Thomas was felled by Horsfall who was first into Mr M`s book.
Nothing came of the free kick almost inevitably, and I feared the worst as Harriers pushed County back on their heels. Ironside and Bradley were at the sharp end of what looked a tasty move until Clarke stepped in with an imperious intervention that ,in an instant, turned determined defence into glorious attack.
In a flash the ball was with Stephenson wide on the left …….and in another he had sent a lovely ball into the box where Oswell rose to head it home!
That was really great and Clarke followed up the good work with an insightful and incisive through ball that thoroughly bested the Harriers offside trap next with half time almost on us. Oswell was away and 2-0 looked a shoo-in as he ran clear, but he snatched at it….and dragged his shot horribly wide.<
That was the first half done and dusted, and 1-0 was a decent return for County from a very competitive half.
County opened the second half with all guns a blazing, but Duxbury`s cross cleared all takers with Harriers stretched.
It went on in similar vein…Stopforth winning good possession from almost nothing, and combining with Ball, who I thought was having his best game for some time, to send Cowan darting clear.
Cowan won a corner, but the blocking tackle that stopped him ended his participation in the game- Harry Winter coming on in his place. This meant that Thomas slotted in at right back, and again I have to say Adam did well, combining well with later substitute Ben McKenna and doing good work at the back as well.
One nil was fine, but a precarious lead with opponents like Kiddy on your case, and the next action served to send a small shiver down the vertebrae as Lee Vaughan pumped a hopeful cloud hugger into the box where McQuilkin hit the dirt with speed.
Harry Winter was closest to Mc Quilkin, but I could not say whether it was a pen or not, but Mr Marsden had decided and it was, and almost certainly 1-1 as Sonupe stepped up to take it! But no......... Ormson kept the kick out, and got up to do the same to the follow up effort as well…..simply excellent from Ian!
Turner was replaced by McKenna on the hour, but the action was at Ormsons`s end again and Thomas did really well to stop Sonupe from scoring when well set.
If Kidderminster looked still to be the most likely team to…….it was County who actually scored next, and more Stephenson good work set it up- his run earning a corner. This was played short, finishing up with Stephenson again and his firm strike brooked no argument….it was 2-0 !
There were 20 minutes left when that one went in, and fully 5 minutes elapsed with no sign of anything other than a County win in prospect. Not even a tasty effort from Sonupe that took a wicked bobble en-route, could dent this thought as Ormson 's dive saw him keep this out brilliantly.
Then County conceded a free kick just outside the box, which Horsfall met with his head making it 2-1….game on?
Well…..there were just 13 minutes left, and I thought so, as Sonupe again went close, being denied by more goal line heroics from Ormson.
Stephenson had a half chance next, but predominantly it was our hosts doing the attacking, and it was only a mild surprise therefore when Sonupe turned in the box to slot the equaliser home.
With 7 minutes left Dixon came on for Oswell- there was no instant sensation this time from Dixon, but his run, with 3 minutes left, induced Horsfall to foul him, and the referee produced a second yellow and Horsfall was gone, and Harriers down to 10 men.
Dixon`s eventual free kick …blasted venomously…..carried the bar, as 4 minutes added time was announced.
Into added time Kiddy kept trying to dent County`s ambitions further , but again Ormson denied them…somehow pushing substitute Liam Truslove`s drive onto a post before catching the goal bound re-bound!
Chances came and went at both ends in the time that remained, but it stayed 2-2 and the trek home could begin in anticipation of a replay on Tuesday looming large
[ Pictures ! Go here! ]
See you at EP then for that one!
Kidderminster Harriers line up
Hall, Vaughan( Truslove 76), Pearson(Sonupe 46), Croasdale, Horsfall, O`Connor, Austin, McQuilkin, Ironside, Ngwatala, Bradley( Brown 61).
Subs not used: Wright, Palmer.
Stockport County line up
Ormson, Cowan( Winter 50), Clarke, O`Halloran, Duxbury, Ball, Stopforth, Thomas, Oswell( Dixon 83), Turner( McKenna 60), Stephenson.
Subs not used: Smith, Downing.