November 15, 2014
Bristol Rovers 1. v. 1. Kidderminster Harriers
HARRIERS grabbed a competitive point at Bristol Rovers but it could have been more after the hosts bagged a late leveller.
After a week, where the club’s financial woes were laid bare at a fans’ forum, Kidderminster looked on the verge of inflicting Rovers’ first home defeat in the league this season.
But substitute Matty Taylor slid in to ensure it was honours even.
Manager Gary Whild may have rued losing two points but he would have been delighted with the spirit and ability his team demonstrated at the Memorial Ground.
With right back Jared Hodgkiss suspended, Whild reshuffled his formation, fielding a back three of Chey Dunkley, Jamie Grimes and Josh Gowling.
The 3-5-2 formation saw Kevin Nicholson and Marvin Johnson employed as left and right wing backs respectively.
(Kevin Nicholson, the ex-Torquay left back and a target for Rovers when Paul Buckle was the manager.)
Because of their lack of cash, Whild boasted a callow bench featuring rookies Tyrone Williams, Reece Hales, Ahmed Obeng and Jake Green.
Harriers were facing a Rovers side who had lost just once in 13 Vanarama Conference games and the hosts made a rip roaring start.
The hosts were adamant they should have and a penalty in the third minute when Gowling appeared to hand the ball after a ricochet but the referee ignored their pleas.
Lyle Della Verde was making his first start and he saw a fine effort from the edge of the area tipped over by keeper Danny Lewis.
Lewis then denied Mark McChrystal far post effort but the away side weathered the storm and grew in confidence as the half wore on.
Grimes had to be strong, out muscling Jamie White to head away Dave Martin’s dangerous cross in the 17th minute.
(Jamie Grimes was a hands-on defender all afternoon for Kidderminster.)
But as Rovers struggled to maintain their intensity, Harriers ended the first half well and could have scored.
Blissett cut inside from the left and forced a fine save from Steve Mildenhall.
The big striker turned provider just before the break with a strong run down the left finding Marvin Johnson, who let fly with an effort which Tom Lockyer headed off the line.
Rovers made two changes at the start of the second half, taking off Martin and White and replacing them with Ollie Clarke and Matty Taylor.
But it was the away team who had a chance to break the deadlock, with Blissett heading over firmly from a Johnson cross in the 58th minute.
The hosts made their final change on the hour mark when Ellis Harrison came on for Ryan Brunt.
But Harriers were looking bright and took full advantage of some good fortune to take the lead in the 67th minute.
Verma’s speculative long range effort took a huge deflection off a defender to win the away side a corner and from Craig Reid’s delivery, Blissett rose highest to power home a header.
(Nathan Blissett, scorer of the Harriers header and a handful for the Rovers defence all afternooon.)
Harriers nearly increased their lead but a diving save from Mildenhall denied Nicholson in the 70th minute, who had exposed a gap in the wall with a thundering free-kick.
Rovers responded well and Taylor hit the woodwork with a header. Midfielder Lee Mansell also fired an effort over the bar.
But Taylor levelled the scores in the 83rd minute, when he slid in to convert Della-Verde’s raking left wing cross.
In the 88th minute, Kidderminster made their first change, with Hales replacing the hard working Reid.
Lewis was called into action in the 92nd minute, diving to his right to punch away Mansell’s low goal bound free-kick.
In the end, Kidderminster held for a well deserved point to end a difficult week on a positive note.
Harriers: Lewis, Dunkley, Byrne, Reid (Hales, 88), Blissett, Grimes, Verma, Robinson, Nicholson, Gowling.
Subs not used: Green, Obeng, Williams, Gittings.
Bristol Rovers: Mildenhall, Lockyer, McChrystal, Parkes, Brown, Della Verde, Mansell, Sinclair, Martin (Taylor, 46), Brunt (Harrison, 61), White (Clarke, 46). Subs not used: Puddy, Balanta.
Referee: Brett Huxtable Attendance: 5848 (287)
(Adapted from the Kidderminster Shuttle, with thanks.)