The ” dream ” double is still on – F.A. Trophy and the Coppa del Bedfordshire, no less (Read it and weep Barcelona), as the carpet munchers were swept out of the tournament, as it all went pear shaped for the Worcestershire outfit.
A throughly deserved success as well, a very pleasing performance both in work-rate and a football sense in a good old fashioned cup tie – unusual for a match to by well worth the admission fee these days, always get a smashing game when we play there, as neither team wanted a replay ( Valentine’s Day night at Kenilworth Road would be a very romantic setting). A decent workout for some of the players who needed a game, with reserve team matches few and far between these days. Apart from Darlington now being a mid-week game – Hip hip hooray :o( , it went according to plan. We should have killed the game off earlier, has been a recurring theme this season our lack of being clinical, we do need an awful lot of chances to score goals. Our finishing wasn’t great and we are becoming like the Non-League Arsenal of years gone by – trying to walk the ball in at times, Henry’s attempt is still orbiting the Moon. Some of our football played on a soft surface was extremely good. This is Luton and it wouldn’t be Luton without the odd heart attack moment ( or a million) as you watch the team cling on to a narrow lead away from home.
Jake Howells was the stand out player here, there and everywhere ( he must start regularly wide left) although our three creative, if lightweight midfielders, Kissock, Henry and Lawless all played very well too. Except for Tyler’s handling which was a long way short of it’s impeccable best,Osano wandering up field, and not getting back. Willmott had another poor night. His crossing was terrible, his control not much better and generally looks a shadow of the player who impressed at Cambridge and in his early performance for the mighty Hatters.
The scoreline didn’t reflect our supermacy for the vast majority of the game. We looked the sharper side, playing the more controlled football, apart from a wobbly spell just after they equalised and Fleetwood missed a penalty, one of several fine stops by Lyness in goal. Who did the same in the League game. Considering he is only their back up custodian, he’s very good.
Several surprises a) the game was on, b) I didn’t die from Hypothermia ( a balmy -8 around Buckingham on the way home) C) seeing so many first team players in the warm up. Was slightly disappointed the younger players didn’t get another game. It was a risky selection,with only four days before Forest Green, although Kissock got cramp and Taylor managed to run off a limp ( possibly the result of shanking two shots with his right foot impossibly wide. Less trampoline boots,but could do with a Sat Nav in his right boot), we seemed to get through the game without any major injuries. Seeing the names of Henry and Blackett in the starting line up of any game is always a collector’s item.
The team was Tyler in goal. back four of Osano, Beckwith, Blackett, Taylor. Central three of Lawless, Henry, Kissock. Howells and Willmott out wide ( often swopping wing), with Fleetwood the lone central striker. Both centre halves did reasonably well considering their lack of football recently. Solid and steady games. Not much pace to trouble them.
Kidderminster, like ourselves had a few injuries and cup tied players, were their usual feisty selves ( they love a late challange and a blind back pass). From what I have seen , the fact they are challanging strongly for a play off berth at this stage of the season, does say an awful lot about the lack of strength in depth about the League. If we could rig it in a Oxford stylee and get to hand pick play-off opponents, they would do nicely, thank you.
Always a combative unit, look to play it long towards Matt, their much vaunted striker, not sure why, unless you want a centre forward to regular bounce the ball off him. Arsenal were interested ( not sure he would get a game at Arsenal Ladies), out wide is their strength and at set pieces, apart from back four, our team resembled Willy Wonka’s assistants.
We settled the quicker looking to pass and move the ball about on the deck,Henry in particlaur looked to get his foot on the ball and control matters, having an usual amount of time helped no end. Our midfield three took hold on the game, far too much for the two in the middle for Kidderminster, Storer and Bradley, two decent battlers but not much more. The hosts looked to hit Matt,an awkaard customer to defend against given his size early, Blackett didn’t do badly against him, as they looked to support him and run on to flicks on, mainly through Bradley. There were a number of soft free kicks in the match. The first that big bully Howells grounded Matt, after the forward had got past Kissock, Demmetriou’s free kick, has cleared by the wall, to Vaughan, his attempt deflected behind. Kidderminster another team with short corneritis, played it to Vaughan his cross whipped in, Tyler punched thin air, rather than the ball, leaving Storer unopposed to head wide.
Until his point, we lacked a decent final ball to convert some composed passing moves into chances, Willmott’s shot ( if you can call it from Jones’ partically cleared header, threatened the Black Country more than Lyness’ goal. We pressed the ball high up the pitch, with none of their centre halves looked comfortable on the ball, so hacked it merrily anywhere. Over the last couple of months, it’s an aspect of the agme, the team have improved vastly.
Storer broke forward, trip by Henry, who initially appeared to injure himself in the process, giving a dangerous free kick, just outside the area in a fairly central position. Bradley chipped it, Tyler diving to his right pushed it away, a proper save for the cameras. Decent stop, all the same. After Demetriou had made untroubled progess down the left, his ball into the box, was safety claimed by Tyler.
Some sublime play by Fleetwood broke the deadlock, latching onto Taylor’s forward pass down the left flank, nudging it past the barely fit Vaughan, showing a nice of speed and awareness to pick out Howells finsihing in style before Lyness could react.
Blackett timed his leap to perfection as Demetriou centred for Matt. Obviously with Osano and Willmott on the sameside, defensive assureness we weren’t. The game become scrappy and Kidderminster equalised with a good breakaway goal. Matt held off Blackett, turned the ball to his left for the advancing Bradley running into our vacant right back spot, not challangd throughout until he arrived in the area, toe poked a low shot into the far corner.
We reacted well to the setback, a fine one two between Taylor and Howells, saw Taylor clearly tripped by Jones. Without O’Connor or Pilkington, Fleetwood stepped up, sent the ball to Lyness’ left, but the goalkeeper produced a good full length diving save. It was a good height for a keeper. Just the 2,678 missed penalty this season, we have lost the knack of playing the one two off the keeper these days.
The game become stretched and open from there on in, Jones’ header from Demetriou’s corner stabbed off the line by Taylor. Matt rose like a Giraffe on a pogo stick and sent an easy header from Wright’s cross at the near post. An excellent passing move involved Kissock, Howells and Fleetwood, gave Henry an opportunity which was blasted miles high. Fleetwood’s lob after Willmott teed him up was comfortably caught by Lyness. Fleetwood drove Kissock’s cross drove after a deflection. Kissock, was his usual mix of back flicks and following the ball about after a pass.Just a question of how Brabin can fit him in and use him to the team’s advantage.
In the dying moments of the first half, a move between Osano and Howells broke down, the ball went to Williams, who dwelt and played a back pass blind to Fleetwood, who gratefully accepted the gift and side stepped the keeper before finsihing into the empty net.
The second half was slow to get into it’s stride, Bradley’s pass down the right, Matt drove a fierce cross across teh face of goal, was uable to by turned in by Guinan, a touch or a burp would have sent it in. Most of their play was frenzied. Williamsl looking to make amends for his mistake, brought the ball forward, Tyler watchfully let the ball go past his post. A good sign was we didn’t look to sit back on our lead and went looking for further goals. Jones’ header struck Howells and Taylor wellied clear from Wright’s corner. Tyler picked a drive fom Matt after Vaugh and Gittings set up the chance.
Henry spun Gittings, picking out Howells in space on the left to drill low into Lyness. Howells again breaking forward, spraying the ball to Willmott, the loopy cross deceived Fleetwood, a poor touch and red shirts managed to get back into their positions, although Henry was found he was slow to get his shot struck and it was blocked, probably doing 90,000 step overs didn’t help his cause.
The newly arrived Vincent , played a perfect crossfield pass just over Osano’s head to Wright, an increasing influence in their attacking play, jinked inside, but dragging his shot wide of the near post.
We always looked dangerous on the break, with the home team holding a high defensive line despite their lack of pace. Henry’s side footed pass found Taylor advancing past Vaughan, the shot hitting Jones and going being. Another excellent piece of play Henry, Fleetwood and Howells, again find Taylor breaking forward, his right foot strike sailed out endangering the corner flag.
Woolley replaced Fleetwood, who was involved heavily in our good play. The lone striker role doesn’t bring out the best in him ( McAllister alongside him wll do), but he is starting to score goals in minimal game time.
A great touch by Willmott following a meaty punt upfield , took him away from Demetriou, low centre just beyond the persevering Woolley.
Always felt we needed another goal, as Kidderminster upped their game, Bradley a terrific shot spilled by Tyler, Beckwith held off Matt, so Tyler could collect at the second time of asking. They went closer still, a clever drag back by Wright on the right, leaving Beckwith for dead, taesing cross-shot which Matt appeared to be more interested in not moving into the post than tapping the ball in it.
Watkins replaced Kissock, who had been subject to some close marking and kicking when the official’s back was turned. Watkins immediately involved searching out Woolley setting up Henry to shot low into Lyness. Howells won the ball of storer, but played a wasteful pass towards Willmott, but found Wright instead. lawless couldn’t get enough on Wright’s centre, inadvertably teeing up Vincent his right footer hit Blackeett and span behind. Taylor sped past McQuilkin, hang up a cross which Howells was unable to direct.
Desperation was the name of the game for Kidderminster as the clock ticked down. Vaughan chested down McQuilkin’s pass, before hitting fully from thirty five yards wide.
We had a lucky escape in the three minutes of added time, Willmott tripped Wright half way in our half, on the left, Demetrious played in a deep free kick, flicked on by Matt, and Wright finsihed with aplomb, but the linesman had his flag up. Looked debatebale to say the least. But on the balance of play, we deserved the win, admittedly with some scares along the way.
Nice to get a home tie in the next round, although there is really no need for a replay Gentlemen. One of those games if the score is tied in the latter stages, it’s a case of ” Would someone score please? Anyone would do ” Gateshead or Alfreton on a Tuesday night would be a fairly grim prospect. The words ” on a Tuesday night” are not needed.
Back to the League on Saturday ( weather permitting, see Snow is forecast on Friday and with the ground in the sticks up a steep hill, it would cop it). Go there in good heart after that performance, be interesting to see if Brabin sticks to this formation with Crow up front or elects to partner McAllister and Fleetwood.
Mark Tyler 5.75, Curtis Osano 5.75, Dean Beckwith 6.75, Shane Blackett 6.5 , Greg Taylor 7, Robbie Willmott 5 , Alex Lawless 7 , Charlie Henry 8 ( J.J. O’Donnell), John-Paul Kissock 7.5( Adam Watkins) , Jake Howells 8.5, Stuart Fleetwood 7.5 ( Jake Woolley 6.5)
Subs not used – Kevin Pilkington, Janos Kovacs Booked – Willmott.
Kidderminster – Lyness, Vaughan, Jones, Mike Williams, Demetrious, Gittens ( Vincent), Storer ( Marc Williams), Bradley, Wright, Guinan (McQuilkin) , Matt. Booked – Demetriou.