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Town 1-0 Kidd'ster AET
Town 1-0 Kidd'ster AET
Thursday, 14th Aug 2003 00:07

A profligate Town made very heavy weather of beating Kidderminster Harriers in the Carling Cup, eventually running out 1-0 winners in extra-time. Dean Bowditch scored the goal 10 seconds into the additional half hour after chances galore had gone begging during normal time.

The Blues lined up as expected with Martijn Reuser and Jermaine Wright coming into midfield, Georges Santos switching to the defence. Marcus Bent and Richard Naylor started on the bench.

Town could have gone ahead in the first 10 minutes on more than one occasion. First Darren Bent was played in one-on-one with the keeper by Tommy Miller. Keeper Stuart Brock prevented a goal, not for the only time on the night.

Then Bent was through again but Brock was out quickly to clear. Shortly afterwards a fine Town move ended with Jim Magilton hitting a left foot shot which was saved. On 12 Martijn Reuser hit a shot wide.

Reuser had another effort deflected wide, but not before a Graham Ward freekick had proved tricky for Kelvin Davis. The keeper claimed at the second attempt with Scott Stamps lurking.

Kidderminster came close again in the 23rd minute, Ward headed a John Williams right-wing cross just over Kelvin Davis' goal from eight yards out.

The Blues had started reasonably well but lost their way towards the middle of the half. However, the chances kept coming, Bent again putting the ball wide from a Magilton pass.

John Williams should probably have put the Harriers ahead on 37 when for once Drissa Diallo was beaten. The former Coventry man was in the clear with only Davis to beat but put his shot wide.

As the half came to an end an excellent move involving Reuser, Couñago and Magilton ended with Bent striking powerfully straight at the keeper. Just before the break Couñago headed tamely to the keeper.

Joe Royle made two changes at half-time, Jim Magilton, who had suffered an ankle knock earlier in the half, was replaced by Richard Naylor and Pablo Couñago by Marcus Bent. Naylor moved into the back four with Georges Santos taking over in midfield.

The second period started with a spell of Town pressure. Darren Bent again came close as he was put through but Brock was once more quickly off his line, while Santos, Marcus Bent and Jermaine Wright all had shots charged down by the stubborn Kidderminster defence.

On 49 Marcus Bent carved his way through a number of defenders on the right of the area before having his shot deflected over the bar. At the other end Ward hit a 20 yarder well over and Dean Bennett shot straight at Kelvin Davis.

The Blues continued to put chances wide, Reuser and Miller both not far away, Miller's chance coming from a fine one-two with Darren Bent. The latter, who could already have notched a hat-trick or even more, came close again just after the hour, keeper Brock yet again saving well.

Dean Bowditch replaced Marcus Bent on 67, the elder of the two Bents looking like he was suffering from an ankle problem. The 17-year-old striker was quickly in the action and turned a low left-wing Reuser cross straight at the keeper.

Soon after Bowditch should have scored when Miller played Darren Bent in down the right. Bent crossed for Bowditch who volleyed over the bar when a goal looked more likely.

With six minutes of normal time remaining Bowditch played in Darren Bent on the right, the England U21 hammering his shot off the bar. Bowditch went close again on 88, Brock brilliantly saving a well-struck half volley to his left.

As the final whistle went, signalling extra-time, it appeared that a goal would never come and that penalties might be required to settle the tie.

As it happened, a goal was only seconds away. From the kick-off the ball ran to Martijn Reuser who hit an aimless high ball towards the Kidderminster box. Defender Craig Hinton failed to clear properly and, with Brock out of position on the other side of the area, Bowditch took one touch before stroking home his first senior goal.

Reuser almost added a second immediately but he managed to hit Brock from virtually point-blank from Miller's low right-win cross.

Matt Lewis headed just past the Town post before the again impressive Drissa Diallo mis-hit a volley which was little trouble for Brock. The keeper did well again on 102, saving from the very lively Dean Bowditch.

Four minutes later Bowditch and Reuser combined well to create another opportunity for Darren Bent. This time the pre-season top scorer put the ball over the bar from six yards, the ball having run to him through a crowd of players and probably striking at least one on the way through.

A minute later Bent beat Hinton but again hit his shot wide before Brock saved another Bowditch strike.

The Blues played out the latter stages trying to conserve energy and keep possession. Matt Richards went down after appearing to pull a calf muscle late in normal time and a linesman succumbed to cramp leading to claims from the North Stand that he was “not fit to run the line”.

Martijn Reuser should have added a second just before the end after a move involving Bent and Bowditch but again Brock was equal to it.

Hardly an inspired display, however on a different day the Blues could have been three-up within 10 minutes or so. Kidderminster defended stoutly even after conceding the goal at such a deflating time.

Darren Bent will want to put the game behind him, it being one of those evenings in front of goal. Similarly Matt Richards had a less than perfect game, although he did appear to pick up an injury.

On the plus side Town only rarely looked in trouble at the back with Diallo and Santos continuing to look fine acquisitions while Naylor looked solid in his increasingly familiar centre-half role.

Town: Davis, Makin, Richards, Diallo, Santos, Magilton (Naylor 46), Miller, Wright, Reuser, D Bent, Couñago (M Bent 46 (Bowditch 67)).

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