Ten-man Boro finally lose
Kidderminster Harriers 4 Stevenage Boro 2 Boro squandered a two-goal lead at Kidderminster this afternoon as Graham Westley s side lost vital ground on their play-off rivals. Boro were cruising when goals from Lee Boylan and Mitchell Cole gave them a de
Kidderminster Harriers 4 Stevenage Boro 2
Boro squandered a two-goal lead at Kidderminster this afternoon as Graham Westley's side lost vital ground on their play-off rivals.
Boro were cruising when goals from Lee Boylan and Mitchell Cole gave them a deserved 2-0 lead but Darren Murphy's 25th minute sending off for a two-footed tackle completely swung the game in Harriers' favour.
Matthew Barnes-Homer gave Mark Yates' men hope just before half time and they made the extra man tell in the second half as goals from Russell Penn, another from Barnes-Homer and Martin Brittain gave them a comfortable win.
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Boro's play-off hopes look to be dwindling and it looks like they will have to cope without Ronne Henry for a while when the defender was stretchered off in the first period.
Westley kept faith with the same starting XI that beat York City on Tuesday night with David Bridges (knee) and Andy Drury (hamstring) ruled out.
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Boro got off to a dream start thanks to Boylan's far post header in the sixth minute. Chris Day's long kick was completely missed by right back Keith Lowe and Morison was on to it in a flash.
Boro's top goalscorer got to the by-line before delivering an inch-perfect cross to the lurking Boylan, who plunged a firm downward header past Harriers 'keeper Adam Bartlett.
It was just reward for a tactical masterstroke from Westley, whose decision to employ a front three of Boylan, Morison and Mitchell Cole had clearly completely flummoxed the Kidderminster back line.
All three were interchanging well in the early stages and the Harriers defenders weren't picking them up culminating in Boylan's opener.
It got even better for Boro in the 22nd minute when they doubled their advantage thanks to Cole's assured finish.
Bartlett hesitated over a clearance and great pressure from Morison saw him scuff his kick out straight to Cole, who danced around Lowe before finishing well from a tight angle at the second attempt.
It was schoolboy goalkeeping from Bartlett as he dallied over a back pass and Kidderminster surprisingly looked a shambles at the back considering they had conceded just one goal in their last seven games.
But they were given a golden opportunity to claw their way back into the contest two minutes later thanks to a moment of madness from Murphy.
The Irishman's reckless two-footed lunge on Russell Penn gave the referee no option but to send the midfielder for an early bath despite the protests from the Boro bench.
It was a needless challenge from Murphy and the sort of tackle you simply cannot get away with in today's game. When you go in with both feet off the floor then the red mist inevitably follows - he can have no complaints.
Boylan dropped into midfield as Stevenage adopted a 4-3-2 formation but the reshuffling did not stop there when Ronnie Henry was stretchered from the field with what appeared to be an ankle injury. Mark Albrighton came on but Boro's squad resources were being tested to the limit.
Suddenly Kidderminster had a spring in their step and Day had to use all of his six foot plus frame just before the half-hour mark to tip over Darryl Knights' 30-yard free-kick.
But Harriers got the breakthrough they craved just before half time through Barnes-Homer. Substitute Brittain swung in a dangerous inswinging corner that Day did well to keep out but Barnes-Homer was there following up to nod home from close range. Game on.
Boro still presented a threat on the break with both Cole and Morison looking particularly lively. Morison wriggled free down the left in first half injury time before delivering a dangerous cross inside the six-yard area that Creighton did well to clear from danger.
Morison could have extended Boro's lead just after the break when he latched on to Gary Mills' 40-yard pass but, after a great first touch, he fired just wide.
And within two minutes Kidderminster had hauled themselves level. A flowing move down the right flank saw Brittain get some space and his pinpoint cross to the back post was met by Penn, who headed home.
Harriers had turned it around and Boro's play-off hopes were hanging by a thread. But Westley's men responded well to conceding and almost hit the front again when Morison's snapshot from the edge of the area went through a crowd of players but Bartlett did well to parry away. Mark Roberts followed up but the ball was somehow scrambled to safety.
But Kidderminster had the momentum and a rare defensive lapse from Mark Roberts allowed Harriers to gain the lead. Lee Baker's punt forward wasn't dealt with by the former Northwich Victoria man and Barnes-Homer stole in slot home off the post.
Three minutes later and the game was up for Boro as Brittain rifled home to make it 4-2. Chris McPhee found the midfielder completely free at the back post and his right-foot volley gave Day no chance.
Boro showed excellent character to plough on and Boylan almost got them back in it when he linked up well with Morison but his shot from an acute angle cannoned off the post.
Michael Bostwick followed up but Lowe managed to divert his effort over the bar.
Kidderminster (4-3-1-2): Bartlett 5, Lowe 6, Creighton 7, Riley 6, Baker 6, Penn 7, Bennett 6 (Carr 87), McPhee 7, Knights 5 (Brittain 35, 8), Barnes-Homer 8 (Moore 80), Richards 6. Subs not used: Jones, Smikle.
Boro (4-3-3): Day 7, Henry 6 (Albrighton 40), Ashton 6, Roberts 6, Laird 6 (Vincenti 64), Bostwick 7, Mills 6, Murphy 5, Cole 7, Boylan 7 (Willock 87), Morison 7. Subs not used: Bayes, Mendes.
Referee: R Lewis (Shropshire)