Keep The Faith
That might be easy to say behind the laptop and having enjoyed the famous Kidderminster Cottage Pie.
But although Grays lost 2-0 and although they continue to be mired in the relegation zone and although they never ever looked like hitting the target let alone scoring, there was enough in this performance to suggest Wayne Burnett and the players he has can get Grays out of trouble.
Grays played a 4-5-1 formation with debutant Scott Forrester ploughing away up front. He looked lively, industrious and saddled with a Jamie Taylor type partner he may prove to be a good acquisition.
Grays began the match playing to their strengths, passing and moving, looking for opportunities. From the b of the bang, Stuart Thurgood was back to his “Capt Marvel” best, closing down, marauding. He was a one man phenomena. Those of us who thought he, at 26, had peaked, are wrong.
Kidderminster looked pacy. Justin Richards, who appeared five times for the Blues in 2006 was able to get round the back at ease. Barry Cogan possesses excellent attacking skills but his pitter patter approach to tracking back leaves his full back cruelly exposed.
In the 17th minute, Richards skinned Kenny Davis but his shot found the side netting. A minute later, Matthew Barnes Horner found space in the box but again couldn’t find the target. Rob Gier was a revelation, heading the ball strongly away and producing vital last ditch tackles.
Kidderminster looked like genuine promotion challengers, both on and off the park. (They are wonderfully warm and accomodating to the press). Back on the pitch, Grays started to flourish on the counter. In the 21st minute, Ishmael Welsh found Forrester but his shot went weakly wide. As hard as Thurgood worked, he ahd no real outlet.
David Button produced two marvellous saves on the half hour but he could do nothing in the 38th minute, when Justin Richards rose irresisitably to head in form close range and put the Harriers in front.
Grays came back. Kenny Davis dazzled Harriers with a Ronaldo series of step overs before crossing to Ishmael Welsh who (you guessed) headed over.
The second half started with Grays stretching the game. Darren Batty, at left back, lifted his game and throughout the half made a series of searing runs and dynamic cross balls.He had to work on the diagonal because Ishmael Welsh had gone back into his shell like he had against Rushden when he couldn’t or wouldn’t back himself to get to the dead ball line ( If there wasn’t a recession on one would recommend a sports psych here).
The weakest link though was Luke Beaney who looked completely out of his depth. To be kind, perhaps the formation did not suit him but he gave away possession time and time again, effectively making it 4-4-1.
Gray’s possession and free flowing play was now reminiscent of the pre-season form. In the 56th minute, Scott Forrester lost his marker in the box and as the ball came over, only had to head it straight into the net. The bench rose as one but the ex Met Police striker criminally headed the ball wide.
You know what’s coming next. In the 56th minute, Beaney dithered on the ball outside the Blues penalty area. He passed straight to Barnes-Horner who placed the ball neatly passed Button and into the net to secure the three points.
Kidderminster sat back for the next half hour as their resolute defence gave themselves a good work out. Grays had a wave of attacks but despite going close with Gier and Eliott, they could not trouble the scorers.
This reporter could be wrong but there were definitely the green shoots of recovery here. The imprint of the Wayne Burnett blueprint is starting to take shape. They have nothing to lose at Carlisle (who are in absolute free fall) and with Thurgood leading and new players starting to flourish, this team can play their way out of trouble. Yes, there is the huge problem of the goal famine but Scott Forrester definitely had something that the coaching staff can work on.
Report by Michael Casey
Thanks to Your Thurrock for the match report