MATCH REPORT: Shots 1-0 Kidderminster

Josh Stokes first half strike was the only goal of a cagey affair against Kidderminster Harriers, as the Shots defence rode Kidderminter’s wave of momentum in the second half to give Tommy Widdrington a 1-0 win in front of 2,849 at the EBB.

There was little surprise that Tommy Widdrington named an unchaged XI going into this game, with the only changes coming on the bench, as National League regulations shrunk the bench from 9 back down to 5, Coby Rowe, Maxwell Mullins, Tommy Willard, Dejan Tetek and Kwame Thomas the five Tommy Widdrington went with on the bench.

The action at the EBB Stadium kicked off well before the referee began the game at 3pm, as Stuart O’Keefe continued his road to recovery on the pitch before the game, and Lorent Tolaj was given the Shots Player of the Month award for October, but most importantly, the EBB Stadium came together in a moments silence to remember those we lost on armistice day.

Last week’s hat-trick hero Jack Barham had the first chance of the game with just over five minutes gone. By the five minute mark last week Barham already had a brace, and he saw himself one on one early again after a ball over the top by Josh Stokes, but Christian Dibble made himself big and denied Barham from scoring early from a Josh Stokes pass for the second week in a row.

It was the Shots making the better of the early chances, and Josh Stokes almost had himself on the scoresheet with less than 15 minutes on the clock. His run from deep was spotted by Cian Harries, who in turn played an inch perfect pass to Stokes, and uncharacteristically Stokes put the ball wide of Christian Dibble’s goal.

After starting the brighter of the two sides the Shots found the lead with less than 25 minutes on the clock through who else than Josh Stokes. Cian Harries sent a ball through towards the Kidderminster goal, and Lorent Tolaj flicked it on into the path of Josh Stokes, who used his strength to hold off Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain and shift onto his right foot, and this time he made no mistake as he sent the ball past Dibble to give Aldershot the lead.

Kidderminster were close to getting themselves on terms just after the half hour mark, after Ben Tollitt did some good work and found Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain, who let fly and saw his shot go just wide of the East Bank end.

Josh Stokes almost found his way in behind to have a chance to make it 2-0 in the 36th minute, but after Sammy Robinson wrestled Stokes to the ground the referee gave Kidderminster a free kick.

Aldershot continued to press for a second, but half chances from Josh Stokes and Ryan Glover before the interval couldn’t find a way into the back of the net, meaning the Shots took the lead going into the break.

HALF TIME: Shots 1-0 Kidderminster

The visiting Harriers started the second half the better of the two sides on the ball, and forced the Shots to panic momentarily as a corner was flicked on and went dangerously close to Van Stappershoef’s net, but was cleared by a combination of Shots defenders.

On the back foot it was the defences turn to put on a show, and Ollie Harfield did well to shut down what seemed a good chance for the Harriers to level. Cian Harries stepped up to chase a ball, but a dummy left Sammy Robinson isolated against Harfield and running towards Jordi Van Stappershoef’s net, but Harfield stood his ground and got the ball away to keep the score at 1-0 just before the hour mark.

Jordi Van Stappershoef was forced into a save from distance in the 69th minute, but the momentum was all with Kidderminster with just over 20 minutes left to go in the game. Captain Krystian Pearce had Kiddy’s best chance of the game to that point in the 70th minute, sitting down a man and firing over the bar from close range in a crowded penalty box.

Tommy Widdrington decided the 75th minute was the time to switch his tactics, as Reiss McNally and the Kidderminster defence were keeping the Shots attack quiet in the second half. His first change was Kwame Thomas for Lorent Tolaj. His second came just over 10 minutes later as Shots still couldn’t break down Kidderminster, this time he was forced into the change as Theo Widdrington came off with cramp for Dejan Tetek.

The Shots have become accustomed to comfortable wins at home this season, but the tough test Kidderminster provided meant much of the five minutes added time was spent in front of the corner flag, Kwame Thomas doing very well holding up the ball and winning fouls to end the game. The defensive effort was reflected by the Man of the Match award, which was given to Ollie Harfield this weekend.

It wasn’t quite seven heaven for the Shots this week, but a resilient second half display meant the Shots earned all the points. Results elsewhere means the Shots now move up to 6th place in the National League table. Attention is now on next weekend when the Shots will travel to Rochdale.

Shots XI: 1. Jordi Van Stappershoef, 2. Haji Mnoga, 3. Ollie Harfield, 4. Cian Harries, 6. Theo Widdrington (34. Dejan Tetek, 87′), 8. Tyler Frost, 9. Lorent Tolaj (39. Kwame Thomas, 75′), 10. Josh Stokes, 11. Ryan Glover, 17. Aaron Jones (C), 22. Jack Barham

Unused subs: 5. Coby Rowe, 24. Maxwell Mullins, 27. Tommy Willard