Kidderminster Harriers 3 AFC Telford 0 - Report

AFC Telford United slumped to a 3-0 defeat at Kidderminster Harriers to join three rivals on nine points at the foot of National League North.

Tom Sparrow and Omari Sterling  battling for possession
Tom Sparrow and Omari Sterling battling for possession

For Dennis Greene's visitors it was back-to-back defeats that leaves the Bucks in 20th, level on points with Guiseley, Gloucester and Blyth Spartans.

Telford, backed by a loud 220 supporters who travelled down the A442, were comfortably second-best at Aggborough in a contest where the hosts' two-goal lead appeared to have the job done by the break.

But for some near misses and some fine work from Russ Griffiths, the margin could have been wider by the interval. But in-form Harriers struck twice through Alex Penny and Ash Hemmings.

The second half was a closer affair as Telford, who had not threatened in the first period, improved but Kidderminster still deservedly worked a third through Nathan Cameron before the hour.

All three goals came from balls in the box that went either unchallenged or uncleared as Harriers were gifted goals having showed their quality in the final third against a Bucks side short on bodies.

Jason Oswell defending the ball from Gerald's Bajrami

Supporters taunted each other throughout in this meeting between neighbours and while Harriers fans who were quick to sing about the visitors' troubles, the Telford fans made noise throughout.

The latest reverse means Telford are now winless in eight trips to Aggborough, which is not a happy hunting ground. Harriers climbed to fourth with the win.

The National North table, however, reads of real concern to Telford who after successive defeats face more daunting fixtures against AFC Fylde and Gateshead.

Greene included new loan forward Ewan Bange in his starting XI, as the rangy Blackpool teenager began up front alongside Jason Oswell.

Bange, 19, had impressed at step three Bamber Bridge with 10 goals to his name already this term.

Also into a depleted Bucks side was fellow youngster Liam Ravenhill, the on-loan midfielder from Doncaster, who recovered from an ankle problem. Stoke loanee Tom Sparrow filled in at right-back, with Ross White answering the call on the other side in the absence of Kevin Berkoe.

Depleted Telford were without suspended centre-half duo Saul Shotton and Theo Streete, who both served the final match of their ban. Bromley loan stopper Kory Roberts was recalled for the first time since defeat at Boston just over a month ago.

The visitors were dealt a further blow as left-back Berkoe was recalled by parent club Salford City, who were in League Two action. Berkoe, though, was not involved in the Ammies matchday squad.

Elliott Durrell, who missed last week's defeat at Bradford Park Avenue, was only fit enough for the a place on the bench before he was introduced following a difficult first half.

Kidderminster started the day ninth in National North, on the back of a three-match unbeaten run and FA Cup day to remember in downing National League Grimsby Town in front of a rampant Aggborough seven days earlier.

And the good mood around the home Worcestershire crowd translated into a decent, bright start for Russ Penn's side.

They looked particularly sharp through the trio of attackers in behind former Buck Amari Morgan-Smith. The central of that trident, ex-Telford loanee and Harrier skipper Sam Austin - also the hosts' top scorer - was bright.

Austin drew a near post stop from Griffiths after just three minutes after the attacker had nutmegged stand-in left-back White.

Dom Mchale being tackled by Kidderminster defender

But former Wolves youngster Hemmings was the biggest thorn in Telford's backline early on. The winger cut in from the right flank and looked to get strikes away with his dangerous left foot.

A mixture of Sparrow and Griffiths did well to divert an Omari Sterling-James effort from the left inside 10 minutes after he had been picked out from a nice crossfield pass.

Sterling-James and Hemmings on either flank proved a nightmare for Sparrow or White to come to terms with.

Greene's visitors threatened to find their feet with Dom McHale, who had overcome an injury in training, showing nice touches, but Telford were unable to work new boy Bange or Jason Oswell into threatening positions.

When Kidderminster's on-loan Birmingham defender Geraldo Bajrami rose unmarked to head a corner over it was a worrying sign of things to come.

Harriers left-back Caleb Richards shot well over on his weaker right foot after neat build-up but it was clear the home side were enjoying themselves.

Some heroics from Bucks keeper Griffiths kept his side level at 0-0 at the midpoint of the first half. Harriers worked it well into the box from the left and Hemmings drifted on to the ball unmarked 10 yards out, his wicked first-time hit was destined for Griffiths' bottom-right corner but the keeper shifted his weight to make an outstanding one-handed reaction save.

But his brilliant work only stemmed the tide for five more minutes as inside the half hour Kidderminster deservedly led through a set-piece.

Hemmings' corner from the left was whipped in with venom and right-back Penny glanced a fine header that proved too powerful for Griffiths.

The floodgates threatened to open as Sterling-James rippled the side netting with a fierce strike. Half the crowd thought it was 2-0.

And by the 33rd minute Kidderminster had a deserved second. Telford allowed defender Bajrami to stride out of defence far too easily and the ball was worked left and then crossed for Hemmings, again unmarked, to power a fine header into the top corner, via Griffiths' fingertips, from the middle of the box.

Greene's men creaked and it was almost three seconds later as Sterling-James' thumper flashed wide.

Telford managed to reach the interval without further damage on their goal. But it was not until added time that Oswell's header from a Cameron Antwi cross was the visitors' first effort either on or off target. The hosts, by comparison, had six of 13 attempts on target and seven corners.

The poor first half saw the Bucks join three other sides level on nine points at the bottom of National North.

Greene sent on Durrell for Antwi with his side in need of more of a thrust.

Oswell and Bange threatened to combine well shortly after the interval, but Harriers left-back Richards was then allowed a free header at goal, which he sent over, after ghosting forward.

Griffiths was again at his best to deny Sterling-James as the winger's fizzing strike swerved wickedly.

Austin fired narrowly wide of the top right corner after Telford's Ravenhill was unable to clear the resulting corner.

And the pressure told again, as Harriers took advantage of a big coming together between Zak Lilly and Hemmings. The resulting free-kick led to a real goalmouth scramble and despite a couple of clearances - including Roberts hooking off the line - big stopper Cameron stole in free at the back post to prod in.

The taunts from one end of supporters to the other continued, as the final 20 minutes became a procession with Harriers' job long-since done. Telford's threat on goal, beyond a Durrell strike from distance, did not arrive.

Some late pressure came to little but the Bucks faithful, to their credit, stayed with their side all afternoon on a day they were comprehensively beaten.


Kidderminster Harriers (4-2-3-1):

Simpson; Penny (Martin, 86), Cameron, Bajrami, Richards; Carrington, Bonds; Sterling, Austin (c) (Clayton-Phillips, 77), Hemmings; Morgan-Smith (Freemantle, 71).

Subs not used: Lowe, White.

AFC Telford United (4-3-3):

Griffiths; Ravenhill (Bood, 67), Lilly, Roberts, White; Walker (c), Antwi (Durrell, 45), Sparrow; McHale, Bange (Williams, 76), Oswell.

Subs not used: Maphosa, Byrne.

Referee: Richard Holmes.

Attendance: 2,244 (220 AFC Telford fans)

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