Rebels edged out at Aggborough

Kidderminster Harriers

Kidderminster Harriers

Davies (13), Casey (31, 45), Hughes (65)
Slough Town

Slough Town

West (26), Harvey (2-2), Bushay (2-3)
League Attendance: 1715 Ben Miles
Rarely can a new manager have been given so much to think about in his first match in charge. Brian McDermott had barely begun warming the dugout seat when he was plunged headlong into a seven-goal thriller against one of the division's top sides, and then leaped off it to make his debut for the Rebels.

It was quite a 90 minutes for the Slough boss, and he has plenty to mull over ahead of another tough trip to Farnborough this weekend. He will have been buoyed by the performance of on-loan Ben Miles, quite possibly the best 'keeper to play for the side for several seasons, and the way they came from behind twice in a breathtaking first-half.

McDermott's own performance after coming on as substitute will also have pleased him; the classy touches are still there, at the very least. Not quite so encouraging was a truly dire first 45 min utes that ranked way below anything Dave Russell ever managed in his reign.

Finding their feet in the McDermott system proved beyond the Rebels and their performance smacked of poor preparation. Most importantly, there was no width - Barry Rake and Mark Fiore were tucked well into the centre for the first 25 minutes, but when they got down the flanks they between them provided the source of all three goals. Also worrying was the continuing defensive naiveity, which again undid plenty of good work within minutes, and the complete failure of Alan Paris' sweeper role, Graeme McVie being brought into the back-line from the reserves to buffer things up.

The hosts went ahead after 13 minutes of all-out warfare on Miles' goal. Hughes and Casey both went just wide and the 21 year-old 'keeper came out confidently to stop Davies with his feet, but another assault proved one too many. Willetts advanced unchecked down the left and crossed over McVie's jump for Davies to put a well-placed header into the corner.

There seemed to be no likely source for an equaliser. Mark West's limp header was hardly worth noting, and every time he or Ansil Bushay received the hall they were swarmed upon by four or five defenders.

Still it came, from the first corner of the game on 26 minutes. Lee Harvey won it, Fiore took it and West finished it with a predatory header inside the six-yard box.

That lasted all of five minutes. Lee Harvey, all 6ft 5" of him, missed a header completely at the back post and Hughes was at the byline to tee up Casey from 15 yards out.

McDermott points to this as the turning point, and he may he halfway right. Fiore took his winger's role more seriously thereafter and quickly set up West to force an athletic stop from Steadman, before going on to deliver a graceful corner onto Harvey's hairband-sporting head and subsequently over Steadman's flailing arms and into the net.

And then Slough went 3-2 up without even trying. Fiore crossed, West headed on and Bushay had all the time in the world for a volley at the back post.

But more goals are scored just before the interval than at any other time and Harriers specialise in them. Hughes' 25-yard shot was parried superbly by Miles but went straight up in the air, gave Casey a simple header and left both sides back where they started.

The second half was admittedly far more positive. Bushay found a way past the defence on 56 minutes but stumbled over his feet again and allowed Steadman to gather, while Ross Pickett came on to balance things out upfront. But on 65 minutes, Hodson's long cross was met with a low header from Hughes and that sealed it - Miles blamed himself, but he shouldn't, for he stopped at least three more with his athleticism.

Harvey's clearance off the line prevented what would have been a very final fourth, and Brindley's header hit the underside of the bar but didn't cross the line. McDermott feft it until the 77th minute to introduce himself, and his eomposure provided some instant easiness into things - his first action was to cooly clear from Deakin, but he could not inspire much of a comeback.

For fans, it was a treat all the same, if a worrying result. Sixteen goals in two games between the same clubs must he something of a record, at the very least.

Welcome to management, Mr McDermott.

Kidderminster Harriers Lineup


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