Fixtures and results so far
The Meek that was
Away fans guide
Man of the match
Home and away
WSC Festive 20
What came before
Review previous campaigns covered by Cod Almighty
Match preview: Shadow play
27 April 2005
Last weekend saw Kidderminster's five years in the Football League league effectively come to an end. And it isn't hard to see why. The worst home record in the division: 24 points, the fewest goals scored (20) and the most conceded (35), and a goal difference of –40 mean, as Town fans have discovered over the past couple of seasons, only one direction - down. While mathematically Harriers can stay up, it's a case of Rushden & Diamonds losing their last two games, while Kiddy win theirs and overturn a goal difference that is 21 worse than the team above them. Improbable. The only saving grace now is to finish ahead of Cambridge and not collecting the wooden spoon as they drop through the trapdoor to the Conference.
Intriguingly, Town head to Aggborough with the home team revelling in relatively decent home form - one defeat in their last six home games. With the pressure of relegation now lifted will Harriers relax? Unlikely. It's all over. Last week, with a chance to fight to the bitter end, with something to play for, according to a fan site "instead of... taking the game to Boston and keeping alive their hopes of survival while Rushden were losing, Harriers served up another 90 minutes of abject dross." Add into this Town's season now being over, tell me, if you are going - why are you going to see two teams playing in the shadows?
When the Mariners played Kidderminster in November, ex-Town midfielder Shaun Cunnington was in temporary charge after Jan Molby called time on his second stint in charge of the club he lifted into the League. Ten days later Stuart Watkiss was appointed. After a brief period of evaluating the squad at his disposal, the new manager wheeled and dealed to freshen up his choice. This hasn't, however, been enough. Saturday will see Kidderminster's last League game, for 15 months at least.
Watkiss made his name at Mansfield when he stepped up from playing to take the managerial reins in January 2002 when Bill Dearden left for Notts County. A robust defender in his playing days, Watkiss instilled a similar approach into his side and took the Stags up from the bottom tier of the Football League four months later. By the end of that year, with Mansfield ailing, he had departed. Noted by many lower-league managers as a fine coach of younger players, Watkiss found himself managing Barnsley's academy before taking his current post.
Defence is our usual place to start. It is also the usual place for Watkiss to start when examining his side's performances. He believes his team create more chances than their opponents, and while not taking enough of those chances is one cause of their defeats, he firmly believes the main problem lies at the back.
Youngster John Danby will be between the sticks, a mainstay in the first team for just over a year now, injuries aside. Daniel Lewis is supposedly back-up, but doesn't seem to figure on the bench.
Right-back Simon Weaver - plucked from Ilkeston Town by Lincoln's Keith Alexander in the summer of 2002 - was one of a number of players brought in during a December shake-up of personnel at Aggborough. Solid enough, and likes to attack the ball, as six goals in twenty appearances for his new club show. On the left will be the equally forward-thinking, if slighter and sprightlier, Billy Jones. Lee Jenkins dropped down the pecking order with Weaver's arrival, but can also slot into midfield.
In the middle of defence will probably be sturdy club captain Wayne Hatswell and ex-Leeds and Scunthorpe bruiser Mark Jackson. The promising Johnny Mullins - on loan since December – has returned to Reading with a hamstring injury curtailing his season. The powerful Abdou Sall will sub. Reuben Hazell has a knee injury and appears to be leaving in the summer without making an appearance for the club he joined last summer.
Kidderminster have an experienced midfield that likes to play the ball. The fiery Dean Keates, with over 200 games for his hometown team Walsall, returned to the midlands from Hull in February. He's also weighed in with five goals. Tom Bennett was an integral part of Dave Jones's overachieving Stockport side and will try to direct affairs from the centre of the park. The biting Simon Russell may get the nod as Watkiss looks to next season. Frenchman Bertrand Cozic, a member of the Team Bath side that reached the first round of the FA Cup a couple of seasons back, will provide ammunition from the right. Expect pacy John McGrath on the other flank.
Up front, Kidderminster have some handy options. Blair Sturrock - son of current Sheffield Wednesday boss Paul - joined the Harriers from his dad's old club Plymouth (three goals in 70 appearances) in December. Net result: six goals in 20 games. Chris Beardsley was reunited with his former Mansfield manager after leaving Doncaster in December, where he put in some eye-catching performances for their reserves. The quick forward is an expected starter after being rested on the bench last week.
The muscular Mark Rawle, released by Oxford in February, has three goals in six appearances. Another powerful option in the running is the injury-hit Iyseden Christie, newly recovered from a 'freak accident' - four internal and nine external stitches after his arse was gashed by studs in a recent game against Wycombe. Christie came off the bench last week, a player Watkiss no doubt wishes had been fit for the whole season. Six-goal top scorer Ian Foster is ruled out.
But if you are going, again I ask you: why are you going?
[It's the soup - Ed.]