That’s right, we’ve won at home! What a performance and what a welcome for the Norwegian branch of the Harriers supporters club it was on Saturday against a surprisingly poor Altrincham side.
With the return of Rhys Williams to the backline, the defence looked far more organised, even with regular custodian Cam Gregory out injured. You could tell that the international break worked wonders for Rhys, going away with England U19s and he kept Jordan Hulme under wraps all afternoon. As we have so often seen at Aggborough, if the ball cannot stick up top, mistakes can happen in the midfield. The returning Milan Butterfield saw to the Alty ambition to play through the lines, and although it is an obvious thing to say, our midfield is so much poorer without the Bermudan international. Up top, Ashley Chambers was, well, Ashley Chambers; his two goals taking him up to 8 for the season now. His partner, Rich Peniket, had probably his finest game in a Harriers shirt and really seems to be benefiting now from the step up to full time football. Sure, he may never be a 20 goal a season striker like his predecessor Joe Ironside, but we are in a different market now. What he will do is offer an aerial option, see Kettering, and his partnership with Chambers scampering onto the second balls will hopefully only continue to flourish.
The performance was much improved, as was the atmosphere. Call it looking for a narrative, call it a coincidence, but was that because the players have been told this takeover has been done? With announcements to that effect, we’ve obviously been here all to often, but could Monday be THE day? Saturday seemed to suggest so. All we can do is wait.
We needn’t wait much longer for our FA Cup journey to start, however. Last Monday’s lunchtime draw saw us paired with old foes Stafford Rangers at Aggborough this Saturday for a first game in over a decade. They are currently languishing second bottom of the Northern Premier League, the immediate step below us. Looking at their squad, there are some familiar names. Midfielder Alex Rae Harvey came through at Burnley and had a spell at Barrow, whilst Harriers fans are very familiar with Luke Jones and Louis Briscoe, for different reasons! Of course, it was Briscoe who rendered Anthony Malbon unconscious when he was at Mansfield seven years ago, whilst Jones obviously had two spells with us. One of Steve Burr’s old backroom team, Andy Fearn, is also involved. They’ve only scored twice this season, conceding nine so you’d expect the passage to the third qualifying round to be simple, but this is the FA Cup…