Hughes and Doherty goals see off Slough

Slough Town

Slough Town

Kidderminster Harriers

Kidderminster Harriers

Hughes (69), Doherty (76)
League Attendance: 1610 Gary McGinnis
Slough Town missed out on the chance to close the gap at the top of the Conference on Saturday, when second half goals from Lee Hughes and Neil Doherty sunk the Rebels in the top of the table battle with Kidderminster.

Until Hughes broke the deadlock in the 69th minute, the game had been a tense encounter, high on commitment but low on chances, and generally disappointing as a spectacle.

Prior to Saturday's game, the two sides had combined for 72 goals in the Conference this season, but with much at stake in a crowded title race, it was the defences that were in the ascendancy. Brian McDermott's back line, still missing Cliff Hercules, had the difficult job of stopping the Harriers' fast-flowing attack, but for 70 minutes Gary McGinnis, Rob Smith and sweeper Andy Clement were virtually flawless.

But in attack the absence of Slough's other major casualty Mark West was heavily felt, as Gary Abbott and Lloyd Owusu were given little to work from and suffered from a lack of quality service. Only once in the first half did Owusu receive the right kind of ball to exploit his speed, as Derek Simpson's lob gave the youngster something to chase down the left wing.

Owusu sped to the by-line and pulled back a low cross for Abbott, but Steve Prindiville managed to stick a vital boot in at the right moment to clear the danger. Graham Allner's side were only giving brief flashes of the swift attacking football they are noted for, most often when the outstanding John Deakin linked with Hughes and James McCue up front, but the majority of their shots were long range efforts that failed to trouble Paul Wilkerson.

The game was crying out for a quality passing move to force open a crack in the defence, and it came from the Harriers in the 69th minute. Prindiville's superb cross-field ball found Doherty, and when the winger fired a cross back into the box, the Conference's joint leading scorer Hughes rose to head it powerfully downwards inside Wilkerson's near post.

As they showed so emphatically against Hayes, the Harriers attack turns into a pack of wolves with the scent of blood once they score that vital goal, and suddenly the Rebels were under immense pressure. Within two minutes of the goal Wilkerson was forced to deny Chris Brindley's header, and seconds later Kevin Willetts blazed over the bar from James McCue's cross.

Slough appeared to have weathered the storm and came close to an equaliser in the 75th when Abbott turned smartly in the box but could only fire his shot straight at Darren Steadman. Within 60 seconds Kidderminster had sealed the game, as Byron Walton's tackle on the halfway line unluckily fell perfectly to send Mark Yates down the left wing. Yates swept past Andy Clement and pulled back an inviting low cross into the six-yard box where Doherty was one of three hungry Harriers waiting to touch the ball home.

The onslaught nearly brought a third but Gary McGinnis pulled off two magnificent goal-line clearances to deny Hughes and Doherty in quick succession. Mark Pye made his first appearance of the season by replacing an out of sorts and eventually injured Gary Blackford in the 74th, but had few chances to make an impact as Slough were reduced to long balls upfield in the closing moments to try and salvage something from the game.

Rebels boss McDermott said before the match that his side would have to be at their best to beat Kidderminster. Certainly, for all but that whirlwind 10 minute period after the fast goal, McDermott's defence looked capable of handling anything that the top team in non-league football could throw at them.

What was more disappointing was that a side that had previously scored 29 goals in 10 home games struggled to produce a clearcut goalscoring chance all afternoon.

Kidderminster Harriers Lineup

Steadman, Bignot, Prindiville, Weir, Brindley, Yates, Deakin, Willetts, Hughes, McCue, Doherty. Subs: Olney, Casey, Cartwright.


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