Dartford 1 Kidderminster Harriers 0 Blue Square Bet Premier Att: 1, 068
Firstly a note about the ‘missing’ report for ground 73 – on 26th November 2002,I witnessed Rushden and Diamonds beat Kidderminster Harriers in a FA Cup 1st Round Replay at Nene Park. I missed it in my original round-up of grounds that I have previously visited.
So it was all the way down to North Kent on Bank Holiday weekend to see if Kiddy could pick up their first points of the season after three straight defeats.
After sampling both The Malt Shovel and Wetherspoons’ The Paper Moon, I made my way to the ground which was situated in a relatively rural setting. The first thing that struck my about Dartford’s home, was the amount of wood used in the construction, almost like they had used surplus IKEA stock. Inside, the wooden theme was continued with a human-like sculpture that looked as though it was holding up one of the three terraced stands, the bowl-like ground completed by a seated stand of around 5 rows of seats. In fact there was very much an eco theme to the ground, with solar panels adorning the roof of the stands.
The game started in glorious sunshine, reflected by Kiddy’s early brilliance. Jack Byrne was pulling the strings from midfield. His surging run on 8 minutes was parried by the Dartford ‘keeper, instigating a goalmouth scramble, eventually ending with the ball being blasted over the bar. Byrne has another chance to open the scoring on 12 minutes but fired narrowly wide, whilst Vincent’s shot was well saved on 17 minutes. After this, Dartford started to work their way back into the game forcing a couple of corners. But the Harriers came back and went close on 21 minutes through Malbon and again on 28 and 34 minutes. However this spurred the Darts into life once again and they broke away and had a massive shout for a penalty on the basis they felt a Kiddy defender had handled in the box. The ref only gave a corner, but that sufficed for the home team, as from the corner, the unmarked Lee Burns headed home.
This didn’t alter the pattern of the game, as Kiddy went close again a couple of times before the break, the best of the chances falling to Marvin Johnson.
The visiting manager, Steve Burr, made a double substitution at half time, with Blissett, the new signing from Romulus, coming on for the not fully-fit Anthony Malbon up front and Mickey Demetriou replacing Keith Briggs.
The second half started with a thunder storm brewing over the Thames. As Johnson went close for the Harriers on 47 minutes, so the thunderstorm got closer. Blissett had ample opportunity to open his account after coming on, but it was Dartford’s chances that were more clear cut, but all failed to be converted. This seemed to spur on the home fans to get behind their team even more.
Up until this point I felt that winger Marvin Johnson had been Kiddy’s best player and architect of the majority of their chances, but this didn’t prevent him being substituted by Danny Pilkington on 57 minutes.
On 63 minutes, the cheers from the Harriers fans got stuck in their throats as Ryan Rowe’s bundled finish at the far post was ruled out for offside. As the ref blew to disallow the goal, the clouds opened and the storm was upon us.
The rain was relentless, but this didn’t seem to unsettle the pattern of the match with chances coming, and going, for both teams. At the final whistle, Harriers would have probably felt aggrieved they hadn’t got a point, but Dartford would’ve felt they deserved a win. One thing was for sure though, the rain was still falling and made it a wet journey home.