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Question of the Week

Who should start in goal?

James McKeown
Ollie Battersby
Max Crocombe

Town on Tour
Town on Tour

Carpeted

By: Andrew Doherty
Date: 06/11/2021

LONDON, Paris, Barcelona ... this is what you see on the t-shirts advertising designer companies and tours. My tour t-shirt this year would have Maidenhead, Woking and now Kidderminster on it.

Kidderminster, a friendly place once famous for producing carpets, were Town’s hosts today in the first round of the FA Cup. It’s basically a free hit for both teams but Town were going in as favourites to progress against a side placed in the upper half of the National League North.

With injuries in the camp and signs of tiredness in recent games, Town had the opportunity to rest field fringe squad members who played their part in the previous round while giving others playing time. So Town’s line-up today was: Crocombe - Efete, Longe-King, Waterfall, Towler, Revan - Fox, Coke, Clifton – Taylor, Bapaga.

It was a blustery afternoon. 2,799 spectators were present, 921 supporting the Mariners. Town were in their traditional black and white kit, with Kidderminster in red. Town showed initial promise with Clifton and Revan in action on the left but it was Kidderminster who had the first proper chance on 5 minutes when Crocombe had to make a good save from a Morgan-Smith header following a swinging cross behind the defence. Morgan-Smith followed up shortly afterwards with a booming shot. Both sides were playing freely with positive intent but Town struggled to penetrate the home defence. Town had a chance when Clifton switched play on 17 minutes. Efete beat the defender on the right but Bapaga’s shot from the low cross had no power. As the game went on, Kidderminster took control, winning balls, working upfield and setting up a number of attacks. Penny wasted a golden chance, missing the ball completely from a left-sided cross following a Fox mistake. Town looked lost tactically but increased their share of possession as the half progressed. On 33 minutes Town probed but Fox’s final cross was nowhere near anyone. Efete threatened to cause problems on the right but there was never anyone on the receiving end to take advantage as Town’s players were out of position or tightly covered. Fox had a shot on 36 minutes but the angle was too narrow. Following another passing move, Bapaga was tripped on the edge of the box. Revan’s free-kick floated directly out of play. Three minutes later, Efete found Fox in the middle but instead of choosing to shoot from range, Fox failed to take account of the wind and again the ball sailed harmlessly out of play. 0 - 0 at halftime. Kidderminster looked more dangerous, closed Town down, and Town themselves lacked quality as the players struggled to find each other and combat the wind.

Kidderminster started with energy but Town had the first chance of the second half when a Fox back flick resulted in a decent low shot from Efete. This was the invention Town needed. A bursting run and cross from Clifton on the left on 51 minutes evaded Taylor but gained Town a corner. Efete’s back heel from it went wide but this was better. The game became more physical as Coke and Bapaga in turn were fouled. Towler was booked on 58 minutes for a mistimed tackle about 35 yards out. A nasty deflection forced the alert Crocombe into a good save from the resultant free-kick. John-Lewis came on a minute later for Bapaga, and immediately had an impact, winning a corner from a blocked shot after good work by Taylor and a cross from Revan. Fox’s corner was headed back from the far post. Waterfall received the ball and blasted a low shot that went inches wide. A huge scramble in Town’s penalty area on 63 minutes only ended when a Kidderminster player was penalised but it was Town who were now dominant. Great work by Revan to extricate the ball in a tight situation set John-Lewis clear on the edge of the box. The goalkeeper spread himself and saved, conceding a corner. Town were now doing the closing down. On 67 minutes it was Clifton this time who won the ball deep in the Kidderminster half. Town rushed forward. John-Lewis laid the ball off to the advancing Efete whose shot was wide. The wind had gotten stronger. On 70 minutes Kidderminster attacked. Freemantle rounded Waterfall and was tripped - penalty to Kidderminster. Hemmings stepped up and sent Crocombe the wrong way as the ball nestled in the bottom right corner. It was a shame as Town had been playing well. Fox was booked for a foul a few seconds later as Town tried to get back on terms. Grant came on for Waterfall to provide some attacking impetus and did some good work as Town toiled in the Kidderminster half. On 74 minutes a long clearance from Crocombe was headed on by the imposing John-Lewis and caused panic in the Kidderminster defence as the goalkeeper beat the onrushing Taylor to the ball. Town looked more and more likely to break through as Kidderminster sought to slow the game down. Rain now swept across the pitch. Town weren’t helping themselves, committing unnecessary fouls. This had been a pattern throughout the game. John-Lewis had a shot that ballooned and went backwards. Town had an appeal for a penalty after an apparent trip on Fox but the referee was close to hand and rejected the appeals. Town scurried, but time was running out. Five minutes were added. Town won a free-kick on 93 minutes but Long-King negated the advantage by committing a foul and allowing the clock to tick down. Clifton did well to squeeze out of the corner and enable Efete to cross but the game just ebbed away and to the delight of the home team and supporters, the final whistle went. Kidderminster 1, Grimsby Town 0.

This was like the old days. Game lost, train cancelled when I arrived back at Kidderminster station and on top of this I spent the whole 90 minutes having to listen to the Town fan behind me moaning about everything. At least the young Town fans on the train back into Birmingham were great. The spokesperson’s summary was too colourful and expletive-ridden to be repeated here verbatim but the upshot of it was that that it was good to have a day out in someplace you’ve never heard of, whatever the result. On the field, it was especially disappointing as Town improved in the second half and were well on top when Kidderminster won their penalty. The introduction of John-Lewis for Bapaga brought determination, shape, control and opportunities. I also liked what I saw of Grant. But it wasn’t enough. It’s not the end of the 2021/2 tour nor is it the end of the world but it is the end of Town’s participation in the FA Cup for this season.

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