Kidderminster Harriers into FA Cup first round with win over Ashton United
Ashley Hemmings scored his first goals of the season as Kidderminster Harriers marched on in the FA Cup with a hard fought 2-0 fourth qualifying round victory over Ashton United at Aggborough.
Hero Hemmings struck with a crucial second half brace to kill off their spirited Northern Premier League opponents.
The win earned Harriers prize-money of £9,375 while the visitors had to be content with £3,125.
Aggborough boss Russ Penn made three changes from the side which registered their first home National League victory of the season with a last-gasp 1-0 win over Wealdstone the previous Saturday.
Defender Reiss McNally returned after injury with Kieran Phillips and Hemmings being drafted into the starting line-up.
Among the substitutes was 18 year old Academy midfielder Noah Rubio.
Ashton gave the hosts a scare in the first minute when Marcus Cusani pulled the trigger on a strong shot which goalkeeper Christian Dibble did well to dive full length to push around the post for an unproductive corner.
Harriers responded shortly afterwards when a dangerous low cross by Sammy Robinson found Amari Morgan-Smith in front of goal, but his shot was blocked by Sean Newton.
Another fine run and teasing cross by Robinson forced former Aggborough goalkeeper Luke Simpson into smothering the ball while under pressure from challenging Phillips.
Both sides battled to gain the upper hand as the first half progressed with the visitors suffering a blow when ex-Harriers campaigner Nathan Lowe went off injured and was replaced by George Milner.
Harriers went within a whisker of taking the lead in the 26th minute when a sweetly struck long range drive from Phillips was brilliantly tipped onto the bar and over for a corner by diving Simpson.
The alert Simpson came to Ashton’s rescue again shortly after the half hour mark when he threw himself full length to push away a fierce pile-driver from Barry Maguire.
Hemmings also tried his luck from distance with his shot flashing just wide of the post in the closing stages of the first period in which Simpson also saved twice from Phillips.
Ashton also went close in first half stoppage time when Maguire was perfectly positioned to head off the line following a nodded effort from Newton.
Harriers soon set about trying to break down the visitors’ hard working rear-guard in the second half, although Ashton were always a threat and Alex Byrne made an attempt on goal with a speculative lobbed cross shot which dropped wide of the far post.
The relieved hosts finally broke the deadlock on 66 minutes when Hemmings scored with a deflected shot which ended up in the top corner of Simpson’s net.
Hemmings added to the score six minutes later by heading home a cross from Caleb Richards.
His quick-fire brace proved enough to see off the Robins who had a shot by Byrne well saved in the closing stages by Dibble before substitute Louis Potts had a header glance off the top of the bear.
Kidderminster: Dibble; Robinson, McNally, Penny, Richards; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Maguire; Hemmings (Hall, 89) Phillips, McDonagh (Brown, 57); Morgan-Smith. Subs not used: Palmer, Knight-Percival, Lissimore, Rubio.
Ashton: Simpson, Cowan, Newton, Couto, Burke, Cusani (Potts 67), Byrne, Rose, Gilchrist, Lowe (Milner, 25, Baird, 73), Hardy. Subs not used: Lonsdale, Bianga, Robbins, Caton.
Referee: Steven Copeland.
Attendance: 2,064 (121 away fans).