Saturday, October 12, 2005

STUNNED boss Stuart Watkiss launched an attack on young referee Gavin Ward after Kidderminster Harriers slipped further down the Conference table.

The official shocked Harriers with a controversial penalty three minutes after Iyseden Christie's goal had hauled Stevenage's lead back to 2-1.

Former Kidderminster loan man Darryn Stamp buried the spot-kick -- his second of the day -- and Harriers' second defeat in a row dropped them to 14th position.

Wayne Hatswell conceded both penalties but while his first for handball was fairly clear, the second seemed to be a good challenge on midfielder George Boyd.

Watkiss raged: "We've come away thinking the only difference between the two sides were the officials.

"I thought the referee was poor throughout the whole game. He consistently favoured the home side in his decision making.

"The call he made for their second penalty was just a rank-bad decision.

"Hatswell has gone in for the tackle at an angle and the ball went out of play at the same angle -- it was clear he'd won it cleanly and the referee was in a position to see that. It was a bad mistake that's proved costly.

"I don't want to say too much but he looked very young and I'm not sure how much experience he's had or whether he's been fast-tracked.

"On that performance, in my opinion, he's not fit to referee in the Conference."

With both sides hit by injuries, Harriers recalled Michael Blackwood from a spell on the sidelines along with Christie and Laurie Wilson.

But although they went close with several chances to end Stevenage's unbeaten home record, the hosts kept goalkeeper Daniel Lewis busy throughout.

Christie and Taiwo Atieno missed early close-range headers for Harriers, who started brightly, and Simon Heslop fired just wide.

But Lewis parried a strong header from Stamp who went on to slot home his first penalty on 25 minutes.

Stamp was denied again by an impressive save before defender Barry Laker enjoyed plenty of space to head in a second from Dannie Bulman's corner in the 27th minute.

Although Christie headed in a poor Laker back-pass to revive Harriers on 67 minutes, the second penalty proved decisive.

Watkiss added: "I can't question the lads' attitude or commitment.

"We're certainly aware of our position in the league but we've played three of this league's best teams in the past three weeks and I think overall we've performed well.

"If we can stick to that standard, then all we need is our luck to turn and I think we'll be OK."

HARRIERS: Lewis; Mullins, Jackson, Burgess, Hatswell; Wilson, Heslop, Fleming (Pugh 86), Blackwood; Christie (Thompson 81), Atieno. Subs not used: Danby, Graves, Hurren.