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28.03.2006 @ 19:45 Aggborough Stadium Crowd: 1220
Kidderminster Harriers 0 - 5 Grays Athletic
Referee: K Evans Conference National-Match

None Dennis Oli (6)
Michael Kightly (32)
Glenn Poole (47)
Stuart Thurgood (pen) (72)
Gary Hooper (89)
Starting Line-ups
John Danby
Johnny Mullins
Simon Rea
Daryl Burgess
Johnny Harkness
Gareth Sheldon
Terry Fleming
Michael Blackwood
Simon Russell
Russell Penn
Jon Newby
Ashley Bayes
Andy Sambrook
John Nutter
Jamie Stuart
Ade Olayinka
Christian Hanson
Michael Kightly
Glenn Poole
Stuart Thurgood
Dennis Oli
Aaron McLean
Daniel Lewis
Michael McGrath
Jake Sedgemore
Gavin Hurren
Lee Thompson
Nicky Eyre
Joe Bruce
Tom Williamson
Mark De Bolla
Gary Hooper
Gavin Hurren -> Daryl Burgess (36)
Lee Thompson -> Johnny Harkness (45)
Mark De Bolla -> Michael Kightly (61)
Gary Hooper -> Dennis Oli (72)
Tom Williamson -> Aaron McLean (78)
Yellow cards
Johnny Mullins (46)
John Danby (71)
Gavin Hurren (90)
Aaron McLean (67)
Red cards
None None
Match report |

Harriers are shot down

Any fears that Grays fans might have had that their side’s league season might fade into indifference after the joy of reaching a second successive FA Trophy final were smashed with this stunning performance at Aggborough.

From the first minute to last, Grays were the dominant force with Aaron McLean their shining star as they toyed with Mark Yates’s men, producing fluent football that defied belief on Harriers’ pudding of a pitch.

It took them just six minutes to establish a lead, though the goal owed something to a blunder by keeper John Danby who punted a clearance into the back of a retreating McLean. The in-form striker then held off Danby as the keeper struggled to make good his error and Dennis Oli nipped in to fire home from an acute angle.

The Oli and McLean partnership was about to run Harriers ragged.

McLean’s work-rate and unselfish play has become an integral part of Grays’ success this season. When he is missing there is certainly something lacking up front for the Blues, when he’s there, as he proved on the half hour, he is the key player.

That was never better illustrated than when he swept in a cross for Michael Kightly, who drilled his strike past Danby.

At the other end Saturday’s hero Ashley Bayes was called upon to prove his mettle with saves from Gareth Sheldon and Terry Fleming as Harriers briefly threatened in the closing stages of the half and they had a glorious chance to raise morale just before the interval when Sheldon had another opportunity.

He was cleverly setup by Jon Newby, who capitalised on rare defensive hesitancy to lay the ball across the face of the goal but the former Scunthorpe and Exeter midfielder somehow found the side-netting.

It was a mistake Harrier were to rue even more within 30 seconds of the second half when Johnny Mullins brought down Oli 25 yards from goal, allowing Glenn Poole to smash a stunning low free-kick into the corner. That secured the points but Grays were in the mood for a goals feast.

The most voracious appetite seem to belong to McLean who peppered Danby’s goal with several shots and headers.

It was virtual one-way traffic, though substitute Lee Thompson went close for Harriers on 57 minutes. He was denied by another fine save from Bayes after getting on the end of Russ Penn’s cross.

Grays were kept at bay more by luck than judgement, but Harrier’s luck ran out on 72 minutes when a great ball through Mclean set sub Mark DeBolla through.

The London-born former, Charlton, Chesterfield and Notts County man, who started his career in the Midlands as a trainee at nearby Aston Villa had replaced Kightly on 61 minutes and looked likely to mark his debut with a goal until he was felled by Danby, who received a yellow card. Grays skipper Stuart Thurgood added to the punishment as he stepped up to hammer home the penalty.

There was still time for Grays to add a fifth goal and it proved to be a great individual effort from another substitute, Gary Hooper, who replaced Oli on 72 minutes.

Hooper showed great skill to dance through the despondent home defence and clip the ball past an equally glum Danby to round off the night.

It was a great team effort, though the individual plaudits all went to McLean. His only downside was a booking on 67 minutes, 11 minutes before he was replaced by Tom Williamson.

McLean deserved the rest, and the cheers of the small band of travelling Blues fans as he came off and if he can maintain this inspirational form he could be the man to lift the Blues right back into a play-off spot and who knows, possibly a league spot vacated by Tuesday’s hosts last season.

Stimson was delighted afterwards, saying: “We had a great win at the weekend and to follow it up with a performance like that gives me great pleasure to be associated with Grays Athletic. Anyone in this division would have struggled against us in this form.”

Thanks to the Thurrock Gazette for the match report