Harriers 2 Stags 1
By Sirius Black
The keeper stole the show as Harriers produced another opening day confidence booster. But for Stuart Brocks epic performance the Stags would be going away happy.
Harriers overcame stifling heat and produced a victory on the first day of the season for the third time in our four year history.
The well earned and hard fought 2-1 win came courtesy of a first half display from one individual as good as any seen at Aggborough in many a year. The fact it came from one of the usual suspects for the boo boys will mean he may not get the acclaim that he so richly deserved. Stuart Brock produced a breathtaking performance, rode his luck and won himself a few friends.
With Drewe Broughton gone Brock will have to be extra special this season if he is not to become the new public enemy number one and on this display he's relishing the task. He may be off the hook; for August at least, despite a few dodgy second half moments where his defence came into their own.
On a sweltering day that must be close to a record high temperature for a footballing Saturday in England both teams tried to play the game but under such conditions it was never going to be a classic, true grit and determination ended the resolve of a team that will surely be threat to the most able in our division.
In the first half hour Harriers dominated the game and a sublime lob by the great man himself gave the home side a well deserved lead after 15 minutes. Bo Henriksen, running out of steam in a one on one race to the keeper produced a touch that all but our opponents have come to expect from the laid-back Dane
The midfield duo of Danny Williams (below right) and Sean Flynn were controlling the centre of the park and last years player of the season by some way showed why it was so important to push the boat out to keep him. Few expected the Welsh wonder to kick a ball in a Kiddy shirt again, what a relief it was to see the determined 100% aggression that we saw from him for most of the previous campaign.
Flynn did what he does best, moan, harangue and use his wealth of experience to put one over on his younger foes, couple this with the pace and work-rate of the slick looking Dean Bennett and that trio should work a few teams into submission. Wide of the threesome were Sam Shilton and Kenny Coleman the latter looks ten yards faster and fitter and the former doesn't, but while Sam has the ball in the corner our defence has a breather which is ok if your winning!
After Bo's typically sublime finish it took a string of saves from Brocky to keep the Stags at bay. Some of the saves he made were either pure luck or the work of a magician, either explanation is a good thing for the coming season.
1-0 at half time was about right but then one of last seasons demoted side came into their own with a string of attacks that could have earned an equaliser, this eventually came from a dodgy free kick 25 minutes from the end. Not many keepers would have saved the Wayne Corden's Beckhamesque set-piece but why we have no-one on the post for that situation is beyond me.
Harriers rarely regroup but with the introduction of the old wrinkly; John Williams for the ineffective Andrew Bishop, the side found a new head of steam. Suddenly the long ball over the top was a complete mystery to the Town defence and it was a similar ball that found the flying postman on the left. He fired a cross that drew the keeper and the referee spotted the visitors Tom Curtis handle the ball to stop a certain goal.
I thought the rules stated that this was a straight red card but new referee Steve Tanner will almost certainly have his wrist slapped when the assessors report is filed, he should have walked. Bo (left) struck home his second from the spot despite the Mansfield sides cynical attempt at putting him off. This was a new one on me, two players decided to dig up the penalty spot with there toe ends. This should be looked at and punishment given to the lowest form of cheating I have witnessed since Ben Johnson's 100 metre dash to the drug cabinet.
That was enough and the remaining minutes were less than inspiring but who cares a win is all you can hope for on the opening day and if the fans start to realise this it will be a good foundation to base the season on.
As for the crowd and the new stand helping the atmosphere, forget it. With over a thousand fans from the Notts club adding £15,000 to the Aggborough coffers we shouldn't moan but from where I was located they stole the show despite being outnumbered 2-1. The home singing has halved with many of the vocal Aggborough few split between the Town end and the luxury of the Cowshed Sauna. We need a ringleader in there pretty damn quick otherwise even the smallest away following will drown out any benefit of playing at home.
Bo double sends temperatures soaring
What organization in their right mind decides to start the football season in August when you can more or less guarantee temperatures such as those that we had today. This is cricket weather, beach weather and hiding in the shade weather. Not playing football weather.
Lets have a campaign to start the season in September, do away with the LDV Cup, and play more midweek league games instead. Makes sense to me.
By the end of this game those hard working men out there must have sweated buckets and lost a few pounds in the process.
This was never going to be a classic game but, apart from the temperature, it was memorable for one thing. Bo Henriksens stunning goal that has already been given the goal of the season award.
That came in the 15th minute during a spell of pressure from Mansfield that saw Stuart Brock pull off a string of world class saves. One from ex Harrier Colin Larkin that defied belief.
Back to the goal and it was a cross field pass, from the much maligned Kenny Coleman, to the feet of Bo. He headed for goal but, already the effect of the heat was showing, he found himself being closed down by Mansfield defenders and the keeper. Now well off his line the keeper was caught in no mans land and, with his typical Danish joi de vivre, Bo lobbed it over Pilkingtons head. We all thought it was going over but it suddenly dipped and dropped like a stone into the net.
This seemed to spur Town on and again it was Larkin who tested Brockie to the limit. Liam Lawrence also tried to beat Brock with a Beckham-esque free kick but failed.
More chances came for the Stags from Dimech, Williamson and Larkin again but having failed to beat Brock they all trooped off for a welcoming half time bag of ice.
HT. 1 - 0
The second half was a much more relaxed affair with the only real surprise in the first twenty minutes being the withdrawal, by Mansfield, of the hard working Colin Larkin to be replaced by Junior Mendes. I can understand the jeers of derision from the Mansfield fans especially as it should have been the ineffective Christie that should have been replaced.
By one of those strange twists of fate though Mansfield drew level with a very dubious free kick.
A 50/50 ball on the edge of the area saw it bounce off the turf onto Danny Williams arm. Although it was obviously ball to hand the Mansfield fans screamed "Handball" at the ref and, being easily swayed, he gave a free kick that was curled into the far corner out of Stuart's reach.
In response Ian Britton bought on John Williams for his debut in place of the lack lustre Andy Bishop. Straight away the tactics changed to the Broughton style with plenty of long ball played in for Willo to run onto.
This seemed to un-settle Mansfield.
Our first chance to get the lead back was wasted when Sean Flynn found himself in a one on one with the keeper. Bo was to his right and better placed but instead of passing Flynnie blazed the ball over the goal and hit the top of the stand, disturbing deposits of pigeon droppings onto the crowd below.
Flynnie did his usual push ups. I'd rather that he had come over to the fans and apologised for his stupidity.
The lead was regained soon after though when Kenny Coleman took the ball into the area only to see his weak shot pushed out by Pilkington. After a bit of goal mouth ping pong the ball fell again for Kenny who's weak shot this time was stopped by Curtis's hand.
The ref pointed to the spot and, after a bit of argie bargie and a few bookings, Bo coolly slotted the ball into the corner from the penalty spot.
To their credit Mansfield never gave up and Disley almost got them back on level terms when his header was cleared off the line by Adam Willis.
With the minutes ticking down Willo almost opened his account for us when he locked onto a long pass from the back. Just as he was about to shoot our old friend Dave Artell managed to rob him of the ball to deny him the chance.
Another good start to a new season. We have yet to lose an opening game but our next League game at Darlington will be a harder nut to crack.
I don't expect a positive result at Portman Rd on Wednesday but feel that we should get at least a point at the Reynolds Ampitheatre next week.
FT. 2 - 1
Man of the Match is : Stuart Brock
Could there be any other choice.
Best for them: Colin Larkin. Why he was taken off is a mystery.
Sport First report:
Kidderminster Harriers 2
Mansfield Town 1
By John Baglay
Henriksen "steals" points
A double strike from Bo Henriksen brought Kidderminster a winning start to their campaign.
The 28 year old striker, who hit 20 goals last term, served warning that he was looking to make life difficult again for defences this term.
He shot the home side ahead with a superb effort in the 15th minute and rapped up the points from the penalty spot late in the game after Wayne Corden had brought luckless Mansfield level. Kidderminster boss Ian Britton revealed his star striker had been suffering from a leg injury through pre-season and only clinched his starting place 24 hours earlier.
He said: “You can always rely on Bo to do the spectacular. But it was only on Friday that we were certain he would play”.
“It was his first full training session that you could see he was right.”
Henriksen opened the scoring with a clever 18-yard finish over the advancing keeper after latching on to a 40-yard cross field pass from Kenny Coleman. Yet Kidderminster somehow lost their way after edging in front, and only the heroics of goalkeeper Stuart Brock kept the Stags at bay.
Britton said “We had a spell of 20 minutes in the first half when Mansfield dominated us, but we were resilient. We might have caved in this time last year; but we kept going and got the three points”.
“We know Brock's a shot stopper and he did well for us”.
“But he knows he has to do better with other parts of his game this season.”
John Gannon, Mansfield's assistant manager, was in no doubt his side had been robbed. He said “We had chances and domination, and if it had been a boxing match the referee would have stopped it”.
“The facts are that they scored a scorcher of a goal completely out of the blue, and then a penalty. Apart from that it was all us.”
“It was more than decent performance – it was a very good one and we are frustrated with the result.
Latest | August 2003