BY Craig Dobson
In association with:
ALAN McLEAN FCMA CGMA
Chartered Management Accountant
Vanarama National League North
Saturday, August 20th 2021
KIDDERMINSTER HARRIERS 3 – 0 BLYTH SPARTANS
Blyth Spartans fought hard but went down to a strong Kidderminster Harriers side at Aggborough Stadium, with the hosts running out 3-0 winners.
Manager Michael Nelson had to make one enforced change to the side that defeated Alfreton Town the previous Saturday, with Connor Thomson coming in for the injured Josh Gillies.
The hosts enjoyed more possession in the opening exchanges, and should have taken the lead within the first ten minutes when the ball dropped kindly to Nathan Cameron in the area, only for the unmarked centre-half to fire straight at Alex Mitchell.
The Spartans stopper parried away an Ashley Hemmings drive, before saving and claiming a speculative Sam Austin attempt from range. For the most part, the Spartans goal was relatively untroubled, though Mitchell had to be alert to a dangerous free kick from Omari Sterling, which took a deceptive deflection en route to goal.
The visitors came closest to breaking the deadlock when Nicky Deverdics and Robbie Dale worked the ball well from a free kick, affording the latter space to cut in from the right. Dale curled an effort at goal from an unexpected angle, almost catching Luke Simpson off guard. The ‘keeper scrambled across his line to make the save, clattering the post in the process.
Dogged and disciplined defending from the Blyth Spartans defence kept the Harriers at bay in the closing minutes of the half, though Harriers’ claims for a penalty for a challenge on Ethan Freemantle were nullified by the assistant referee’s offside flag.
Nelson’s men were good value for the draw at the interval, but the game turned on its head within two second-half minutes. First, Connor Thomson almost broke the deadlock when his shot was fumbled towards the line by the ‘keeper, with Simpson recovering just in time to scoop the ball off the line.
Within the same passage of play, the Harriers embarked on a devastating counter-attack. The ever-dangerous Austin drew in two defenders before feeding Freemantle with a precise reverse pass. The forward made no mistake, setting himself and blasting into the top corner with 52 minutes on the clock.
Backed by a now-vocal crowd at Aggborough, Kidderminster Harriers pressed for a second. Hemmings nodded wide just after the hour, but the tally would be doubled just five minutes later. Freemantle turned provider, his pullback allowing skipper Austin to pass the ball into the bottom corner.
With Spartans chasing the game, the hosts added a third 16 minutes from time. Ashley Hemmings robbed possession in the centre circle, carried the ball to the edge of the area and opted not to pick out either of his supporting teammates, instead stroking the ball low into the far corner.
Dale almost snatched a consolation for Spartans in the closing moments of the game, a fine low free kick held at the near post by Simpson. However, it was Kidderminster Harriers’ day, and they thrilled most of the 1462-strong crowd with three points against hard-working opposition.
Kidderminster Harriers XI: Simpson, Richards, Cameron, Austin © (White), Carrington, Hemmings (Lissimore), Sterling, Foulkes, Martin, Bajrami, Freemantle (Bell). Subs not used: Penny, Emery.
Goals: Freemantle 52, Austin 66, Hemmings 74
Blyth Spartans XI: Mitchell, Liddle, Buddle ©, Hickey(McKeown 71’), Maguire, O’Donnell, Dale, Byrne, Deverdics, Lees, Thomson (Reid 57’). Subs not used: Evans, Watson, Painter.
Referee: David McNamara
Attendance: 1472 (47 away fans)