Friday, January 01, 2021

Match preview - Kidderminster Harriers vs Hereford FC

So Christmas is all done for another year. I hope everyone’s had as good a seasonal holiday as was possible under the circumstances, and I must say it does feel quite festive here as I write. The fire is roaring, snow lies on the ground outside, and Dundonald Bluebell host Queen’s Park in the Scottish Cup this evening. Not particularly festive perhaps - Dundonald Amaryllis might have been a more festively fitting but even more mental name for a football team - but at 11/1 it’s tempting to back them just for being called Dundonald Bluebell, especially as they sound more like a greyhound.

Anyway, it’s been quite a while, but finally Hereford FC have the glamorous opportunity to lock horns with the mighty Kidderminster Harriers in a league fixture, as the Bulls travel to Aggborough on New Year’s Day. Older readers will hazily recall that the last time these teams met at Edgar Street a few days ago on Boxing Day Kidderminster seemed to be hell-bent on having all of their players sent off in a bizarre attempt to bully their way to success. Being bullied by Kidderminster Harriers is a bit like being smashed over the head with a really light feather, but hey, presumably they did their homework and thought that was the route to success. Losing 3-1 proved them wrong in that respect, so Harriers 2.0 will presumably be a less thuggish, more gentlemanly experience, but a similar 3-1 outcome in favour of the visitors would be very warmly welcomed.

Harriers haven’t played since that Boxing Day loss, as snow in Worcestershire meant that their game against Telford was postponed. They should therefore be well rested, but that was the case before the match at Edgar Street, with Hereford having a midweek Trophy game a few days before and Kiddy having that Tuesday off following an early exit from the competition, and it didn’t favour them then. However, it does mean that Hereford have now played a good deal more minutes than their hosts over a very busy few weeks.

Harriers’ Amari Morgan-Smith starts a four-match suspension here after violently invading Brandon Hall’s personal space on Boxing Day, with misdemeanors earlier in the season also being taken into account, but new signing Jason Cowley goes straight into the squad and could start up front as Morgan-Smith's replacement.

As for Hereford, those busy few weeks are taking their toll, with no John-Lewis, Klukowski or Dan Jones available at Leamington. Taking into account fatigue and players playing out of position, a clean sheet and a point wasn’t a bad outcome from that game, one that won’t live long in the memory. Klukowski should be back for this one, and there’s a decent chance he’ll be joined by Kennedy Digie and Dan Jones. The elephant in the room is of course the absence of The Shop, who, unless Josh Gowling’s indulging in mind games again, will definitely miss this match. There’s no dressing that absence up as anything other than a very major setback, and it could be down to Chris Camwell and Luke Haines to just shoot on sight from anywhere in the home team’s half to get the goals. There will certainly be little physical threat from a front three of Kelsey Mooney, Tom Owen-Evans and Kyle Finn, although they’ve shown that they can zip around (s)lumbering centre backs to good effect.

The Bulls have lost both matches at Aggborough since promotion to the NLN, but anyone of a superstitious bent can forget all of that nonsense and simply remember that the team at the time was being led by either incompetence or indifference. A fully revved-up Hereford, with or without their talismanic striker, can and should go into this one on the front foot, knowing that the locals will be worried. It’s a shame there won’t be a thousand in the away end as that would have helped, but we’ll all be there in spirit. Having said that, if the weather intervenes it wouldn’t be the worst postponement ever, all things considered.

In the last preview, I prematurely signed off with a Happy New Year, forgetting that this one fell on the day itself (they’re all blurring into one at this time of year to be honest), so Happy New Year again everyone – here’s to a win for Hereford FC and a decent season for Dundonald Bluebell.

EDIT: Dundonald Bluebell lost 3-1 after extra time. Cold reality trumps romance yet again, and Bluebell presumably performed like an 11/1 dog might be expected to.