Saturday, November 26, 2005

A LEE Bell second-half goal left Kidderminster Harriers perilously close to the Nationwide Conference relegation zone.

Harriers could have few complaints about their defeat at the Pirelli Stadium and boss Stuart Watkiss held a long dressing room inquest afterwards.

However, Burton manager Nigel Clough insisted it was the hardest-fought win for his side yet this season.

The statistics tell a sorry tale for Harriers though with just two points from their last six league games, leaving them five ahead of second-from-bottom Southport who have a game in hand.

To make matters worse, they had Daryl Burgess sent off for two yellow cards on Saturday and Mark Jackson picked up his fifth booking of the season.

Both centre-halves will miss next weekend's clash with Dagenham & Redbridge at Aggborough.

Harriers failed to build on Wednesday's impressive LDV Vans Trophy victory at Boston United, giving a below-par display against their in-form hosts.

Burton's fourth win in a row arrived courtesy of a first club goal for on-loan midfielder Bell on 49 minutes, tucking away a 15-yard volley after Jon Shaw headed down a free-kick from former Harrier Andy Corbett.

Defences dominated much of a poor first-half when both teams struggled to get their passing games going.

Shaw glanced a Keith Gilroy corner wide of the goal, while left winger Michael Blackwood provided most of the problems at the other end.

Blackwood darted past three tackles but was denied by a combination of Terry Henshaw and goalkeeper Saul Deeney on the edge of the box.

Tricky Gilroy flashed a shot inches wide of the Harriers post and was then denied by Daniel Lewis before scooping the close-range rebound over the bar.

Simon Heslop disappointingly wasted an opening created by Iyseden Christie close to the end of the first-half.

Gilroy nearly put Burton ahead just after the restart only to be foiled by Lewis but the 'keeper had no chance with Bell's strike soon after.

Although Christie had a shot charged down and Taiwo Atieno's effort was deflected over, midfielder Heslop went closest with Deeney pushing his shot onto the post.

However, there was no way back for Harriers when Burgess was red carded on 70 minutes after bringing down Shaw just outside the box.

Burton could have added further goals but the damage was already done as Harriers lost their fourth away league match in a row.

HARRIERS: Lewis; Mullins, Jackson, Burgess, Hatswell; Pugh (Fleming 66), Penn, Heslop, Blackwood; Atieno, Christie. Subs not used: Danby, Thompson, Wilson, Hurren.