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07.10.2006 @ 13:00 Aggborough Stadium Crowd: 1316
Kidderminster Harriers 2 - 1 Grays Athletic
Referee: M Mullarky Conference National-Match

Reuben Reid (15)
Iysden Christie (63 pen)
Aaron McLean (27)
Starting Line-ups
Scott Bevan
Marcus Bignot
Mark Creighton
Stuart Whitehead
Gavin Hurren
Michael McGrath
Michael Blackwood
Simon Russell
Reuben Reid
Russell Penn
Iysden Christie
Ashley Bayes
Jay Smith
Andy Sambrook
Jamie Stuart
Tom Williamson
Michael Kightly
Ashley Nicholls
Glenn Poole
Jamie Slabber
Lee Boylan
Aaron McLean
Steve Taylor
Luke Reynolds
Brian Smikle
Andy White
Jake Sedgemore
Danny Knowles
Adam Green
Djoumin Sangare
John Martin
John Turner
Brian Smikle -> Michael McGrath (74)
Andy White -> Reuben Reid (80)
Jake Sedgemore -> Marcus Bignot (90)
John Martin -> Lee Boylan (58)
Djoumin Sangare -> Jay Smith (83)
Yellow cards
Gavin Hurren (32)
Iysden Christie (54)
Glenn Poole (62)
Red cards
None None
Match report |
Grays' wretched form continued on Saturday when they slumped to defeat at lowly Kidderminster.

After pegging the hosts back once Blues missed a string of chances to secure just their second win in seven games and were undone when Harriers converted a controversial penalty mid-way through the second half.

It was not the penalty award that aggrieved Grays but referee Mike Mullarkey's decision, on the recommendation of his linesman, to order Iyseden Christie to re-take the spot kick after Ashley Bayes had saved his first effort.

The referee's assistant thought he saw Bayes move off his line to deny Christie first time round but to most in the ground it looked an extremely harsh decision.

Boss Frank Gray agreed and added that his side have now had two major decisions go against them in the past five games.

In last month's home defeat to Aldershot a linesman awarded the visitors a "goal" that never was, which gave the Shots a platform to go on and win the game, and now, for the second time in a matter of weeks, the benefit of doubt went against Gray's men.

Gray said: "I wouldn't argue with the decision for the penalty, sometimes you get away with it, sometimes you don't. The biggest disappointment for me is a linesman has made a big decision again.

"From where I was Ashley didn't look very far off his line, if at all, when he saved it. Ashley has said he actually started off behind the line and if he was over it was minimal. Every penalty kick would be taken every week if that was the case."

To be fair to Gray he didn't dwell too long on the linesman's decision and admitted of far greater concern was the lack of conviction his side showed after the penalty had been converted.

Barring a couple of ambitious attempts from Aaron McLean and a Tom Williamson volley in the dying seconds, Grays did not threaten the Kidderminster goal once after the spot-kick.

And more worryingly for Blues fans, the players never looked like believing they would get back into the game.

Gray suggested that an energy-sapping bug that had swept through the club over the past few days had played some part in his side's lack of spark but he admits there maybe more to it than that.

"A few have been suffering from the flu," revealed Gray. "Jimmy (Sangare) was one suffering. He was on the bench for if we really needed him. Dennis Oli was out with it and Jay Smith, Aaron McLean and Andy Sambrook were all struggling. But that's no excuse for losing the game.

"The belief stopped when the penalty decision went against us and that's disappointing. When you are in a position like that you need players who roll their sleeves up. We still had enough time to get back into it but it didn't happen.

"We could have been 2-1 up, 3-1 up, even 4-1 up before the penalty but when a decision like that happens you just have to get on with it.

"We have a lot of good players at this club but sometimes that isn't enough. A lot of good players doesn't necessarily make a good team."

Despite hinting he might revert back to a 4-4-2 formation, Gray opted to continue with the 3-5-2 formation that served his side well against Exeter four days previously.

Lee Boylan came in for the sick Oli and Glenn Poole returned for Sangare in a re-shuffle that saw Sambrook join the back three and Poole play as a left wing back.

Blues started brightly enough and created good opportunities in the opening five minutes.

Three minutes in McLean scampered on to a Kightly pass but couldn't get enough purchase on his shot to trouble Scott Bevan and Kightly went close himself two minutes later with a whipped free kick that was pushed wide by the giant Harriers stopper.

But Kiddy, whose home record is just as bad as Grays', were handed the perfect confidence boost in the 16th minute by visiting centre back Smith.

Believing he could nick the ball ahead of impressive debutant Reuben Reid, the ex-Farnborough man was made to look a fool by the youngster who span him with ease and was given all the time in the world to fire past Bayes.

But the hosts were pegged back in spectacular fashion by McLean, who netted what was certainly the best of his 11 goals this season, 10 minutes later.

There seemed little danger when Williamson hooked the ball towards the ex-Aldershot man on the edge of the Kidderminster box.

Home keeper Bevan came off his line in anticipation of McLean bringing it down and having a pop at goal but, such is the 23-year-old's confidence right now, he opted instead to lob the keeper, on the volley, from all of 20 yards.

It was a spectacular goal and made it even more astonishing that McLean missed two gilt-edged chances to put his side in front either side of the half-time break.

On both occasions his touch let him down as he burst through one-on-one with Bevan who nevertheless made two impressive blocks.

First, after collecting a lovely pass from Williamson, McLean took himself too wide to beat the ex-Tamworth stopper and then, just eight minutes before Christie's winner, he got in behind again only to push the ball too close to Bevan who got enough on the shot to deflect the ball into the air.

Even then it looked as though the ball would still find the back of the net but Michael Blackwood was on hand to head off the line.

In between those misses, Boylan missed an even easier chance and, according to his manager, the best chance of his Grays career to date.

Poole's cross picked out the ex-Canvey Island hit-man all alone some six yards out but he somehow managed to glance his header wide when it seemed easier to at least hit the target.

Grays were left to rue those missed chances when Sambrook handled Reid's header across goal and Christie, after an appalling first spot kick, had the courage to step up again and send Bayes the wrong way.

By Ryan Goad
Thanks to the Thurrock Gazette for the report.