Harriers hold firm after Lewis leveller to deny Alty a sixth straight win

Report by John Edwards

Picture by Jonathan Moore

Altrincham 1 Kidderminster Harriers 1

Altrincham found themselves in the unusual position of having to settle for one point instead of three, but they were still left puzzling about how a sixth straight Vanarama National League win eluded them on Footy for a Fiver night at The J.Davidson Stadium.

The Robins had to absorb the blow of going behind in only the second minute, but they rallied to draw level through Lewis Banks before half-time and went on to carve out enough chances to have won with something to spare.

For once, the required cutting edge wasn't there, but a point at least keeps Alty moving in the right direction, handily placed in fifth position, three points behind Solihull Moors with a game in hand.

The sight of autumn leaves strewn along the Popular Side of the pitch underlined how far we have advanced into Alty's latest National League campaign, with October already nearing an end and the Robins with 15 games already under their belts.

Their 16th could not have got off to a worse start, as Kidderminster threatened a breakthrough inside the first minute and secured one in the second.

Sammy Robinson weaved his way towards the edge of the area after barely 30 seconds, and when he fed the ball to Caleb Richards, it took a timely block by Banks to deny the overlapping left-back an opening goal.

The danger was not dealt with, though, and the warning not heeded.

With just 90 seconds gone, a long throw hurled into the area from the left skimmed off one of several heads straining to reach it and, to a stunned silence, hit the base of the right post before trickling over the line. The scorer was initially thought to be Kidderminster defender Reiss McNally, but confirmation later emerged that it was officially being recorded as an own goal by Dior Angus.

What a shock to the system for the in-form Robins, and it took a few minutes for the players to process it and begin setting about making amends.

Gradually, inroads were made into Kidderminster territory, starting with a deep corner in the eighth minute that was only half-cleared to onrushing midfielder Isaac Marriott, whose cleanly-hit first-time shot from distance kept rising and cleared the bar by a couple of feet.

Four minutes later, following an intricate build-up on the right involving Justin Amaluzor and Chris Conn-Clarke, a low cut-back by the former gave Alex Newby the chance for a close-range flick that was deflected inches wide of the near post.

Persistence finally paid off for the Robins in the 27th minute, with Banks hauling them level in superb style.

Linking up with Amaluzor on the right, the full-back cut inside on to his left foot and evaded a challenge before rifling a low shot beyond Christian Dibble into the bottom far corner for his first goal in Alty colours.

Visibility was being impaired by fog rolling in over the Pop Side roof, but there could be no mistaking the quality and unerring accuracy of a strike from distance that brought Alty a deserved equaliser.

Through the gathering gloom, Alty kept pushing forward, and they went close to going in front in the 32nd minute.

Jake Cooper advanced with purpose deep into the Kidderminster half, and when he slid the ball through to Angus, the striker was not far away with an angled effort that just cleared the far angle of bar and post.

Conn-Clarke swung a left-foot shot narrowly wide as Alty finished the half strongly, but there was little to choose between the teams as they went in all-square at 1-1.

A clever free-kick routine almost unlocked the visitors' defence in the 51st minute. Conn-Clarke and Newby feigned to get in each other's way but managed to roll the ball square to Eddy Jones, whose rasping drive looked bound for the top left corner until Dibble sprang to his right to claw it away.

Clear-cut openings were proving hard to come by in the early stages of the second half, but one fell Angus' way in the 65th minute.

Cooper, looking assured and well worth his place in the starting line-up, motored into the Kidderminster half and delivered a pass to Conn-Clarke that was instantly moved on to Angus, only for the frontrunner to blaze over from an inviting position.

As Alty stepped up the pressure, they went close again in the 75th minute, when a first-time flick sent Amaluzor surging down the left flank before cutting in and firing a low drive that Dibble blocked with his feet.

The chance looked to be lost, but the ball rebounded obligingly to Amaluzor, who lost his composure at the worst possible moment as he ballooned the golden opportunity over the bar.

Dibble was tested again in the 85th minute when Amaluzor managed to force the ball across the area from the left bye-line and Eddy Jones hooked a shot that the keeper palmed away diving to his left.

It had been all Alty, increasingly so as the second half progressed, but a way through could not be found in the face of stubborn Kidderminster defending and a referee who somehow deemed four substitutions, two lengthy injury stoppages and time wasting by Dibble to be worthy of only four added minutes.

Altrincham - Ross; Banks, Cooper, Baines, E.Jones; Osborne, Marriott; Amaluzor (Donawa 73), Conn-Clarke, Newby; Angus (Sithole 80). Subs not used - Gould, James Jones, Roscoe.

Booked - Marriott.

Attendance - 2,077 (223 away).

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