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Match Report

 

Posted Sat 10 Jan 15 at 18:00 PM

REPORT: HARRIERS 0 ALTRINCHAM 1

Harriers exited the FA Trophy after Damian Reeves’ first-half effort was enough to send Altrincham into the Third Round of the competition.

Craig Reid missed a penalty while Alty ‘keeper Stuart Coburn was in top form, denying Harriers time after time in the second half to keep his side in the game.

The likes of Akwasi Asante and substitute Keyon Reffell showed brilliant potential for Harriers with bright performances as they all but put the ball into the back of the net.

Meanwhile, in today’s only Vanarama Conference fixture, Eastleigh beat Lincoln City to move into the play-off spots at Harriers’ expense.

Gary Whild made one change to the side which beat Dartford last week, as cup-tied defender Jordan Tunnicliffe was unable to feature after appearing in the competition for previous club Sutton Coldfield Town.

On-loan Birmingham City defender Nat Kelly, who joined on a month-long deal on Friday, slotted straight in alongside Jamie Grimes at centre-back.

Jamie Spencer was cup-tied as well, a disappointment for the former Redditch striker who set up both of Marvin Johnson’s goals at Princes Park.

Also unavailable were Tyrone Williams and Jaz Singh after playing in this season’s FA Trophy while on loan at Romulus and Gloucester City respectively.

Altrincham also made one change to the team which beat Eastleigh 2-0 away from home last weekend, as Sean Williams replaced the injured Peter Cavanagh.

The visitors broke the deadlock after 20 minutes, following up a Harriers chance on goal immediately with an attack of their own.

Asante had forced Coburn into one of many saves with a quick turn and shot on the edge of the area from Kyle Storer’s pass, and the ‘keeper reacted swiftly to propel the ball upfield.

From there, an error by Kelly allowed Reeves to steal possession and fire a low angled shot from the right into the opposite corner, bagging his 15th goal of the season in the process.

Reid then fluffed a golden opportunity to level for Harriers from the penalty spot after Jack Byrne was fouled by Gianluca Havern in the box.

Byrne burst into the area aiming to finish off a well-worked Harriers forward move, as Asante held the ball up brilliantly to find Reid, who laid the ball into the midfielder’s path.

But the striker, who scored his side’s first penalty of the season with a confident effort against Forest Green Rovers, blasted his spot-kick over the bar four minutes before the interval,

Harriers were unlucky to be behind at the break after calling Coburn into action on several occasions.

Kevin Nicholson tested the ‘keeper with a solid left-sided shot after eight minutes, Coburn reacting quickly to scramble the ball clear as Asante eyed the rebound.

The former Birmingham striker was linking up excellently with Johnson and their combination seconds earlier had ended with a well-hit Johnson cross into the area, where Havern rose above Reid to head clear.

Shortly after Harriers conceded, Johnson almost took advantage of a fortuitous deflection as his altered shot wrong-footed Coburn but flew over the bar.

For Alty, Reeves issued Harriers with a warning on the 13th minute, when a Danny Lewis fingertips save sent his header over the bar, before the striker sent a headed effort narrowly wide after 34 minutes.

But, in truth, that was as good as it got for the visitors as Harriers turned up the heat in the second half.

They were forced to do so without Johnson, however.

The winger, who highlighted his importance for Harriers with last week’s brace to earn three points at Dartford, hobbled off 10 minutes before the interval - a huge blow for Whild’s side.

But his replacement Reffell stepped up admirably and became a real danger for Harriers as the game wore on.

His ability was epitomised with a fantastic through ball, hit long, low and quick down the right-hand channel to Asante after 55 minutes, before enjoying a pacey run along the flank himself 20 minutes later and firing a sharp angled shot which Coburn had to block.

Kelly also grew into the game, as his effort from mere yards out after 53 minutes was well-blocked by Altrincham, before he stopped Williams in his tracks with a perfectly-timed tackle at the other end five minutes later.

It was Asante who had Harriers’ best chance of the second half on the 66th minute, unleashing a stinging shot after latching on to Jared Hodgkiss’ header, but Coburn pulled off another stunning stop to keep his opponents out.

With 20 minutes remaining, Harriers began to bombard Alty’s box with crosses and shots, many of them blocked or cleared by the battling yellow shirts.

Storer tried his luck on the 72nd minute after taking a running shot at Asante’s lay-off but placing it wide, before roles were reversed and the midfielder’s left-sided cross was blocked into Asante’s path, who drove a shot over the bar.

It was all getting rather frantic as the game entered its final 10 minutes with the likes of Asante and Reffell both denied with last-gasp blocks or brave stops by Coburn as Harriers piled on the pressure.

Nicholson got in on the act with a curling hit from just outside the area, but again Coburn could not be breached, the ‘keeper diving valiantly to his right to thwart the left-back.

And the Harriers defender was denied by Coburn once more two minutes from the end as his threatening free-kick was dealt with by the ‘keeper.

In the end, Whild’s men gave it everything they had but just could not beat the admirable Coburn, who played a huge part in helping Altrincham into the draw for the next round.


Harriers: Lewis, Hodgkiss, Storer, Kelly, Byrne, Johnson (Reffell, 36), Reid (Styche, 54), Grimes, Gittings, Nicholson, Asante

Subs not used: Green, Digie, Obeng

Altrincham: Coburn, Densmore, Griffin, Moult, Havern, Richman, Reeves (Gillespie, 86), Clee, Marshall, Williams, Crowther (Perry, 60)

Subs not used: Parton, Swift

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