By Gerry PrewettOn Saturday Bristol Rovers entertain a Kidderminster Harriers team who are 4 points and 7 places behind them in the Vanarama Conference. Whilst Rovers were battling out a 0-0 draw at Alfreton on Tuesday, the Harriers went down to their second home defeat of the season 2-0 to Aldershot the following night.
Harriers have gained 20 points from their 10 home games. Their season started well with 15 points from their opening 7 games and no defeats. Since then their form has been patchier although it did include a remarkable 3-3 draw at Barnet, where they came back from being 3-0 down at half-time.
Wednesday’s game, was evenly balanced until the start of the second half when Harriers' right-back Jared Hodgkiss was sent off. Brett Williams converted the penalty. Hodgkiss was shown a straight red card for pulling back Andrew McConville in the box and denying a goal-scoring opportunity. It was the defender's first ever sending off.
As Kidderminster pushed for a leveller, they left themselves exposed at the back and Williams volleyed over the bar in the 63rd minute. Kidderminster's defeat was sealed in the 73rd minute when Molesley cut in the right and beat Lewis with a deflected effort.
Hodgkiss later apologised live on air, "It was a little error in positioning, I've pulled at his shirt half-heartedly, the lad's made the most of it and I've seen red. It's the first time I've been sent off in my career. It was a little bit immature from myself and I'm disappointed.”
"If I had put someone in the stand and I had deserved the red card, I could understand it more. But I've just got to make sure it never happens again."
Kidderminster Harriers was formed in 1886 following a period as an athletics and rugby union club since 1877. It took 114 years to win promotion to the Football League, under the stewardship of Jan Molby in 2000, but their stay there lasted just five seasons.
Since then, they came closest to regaining their spot two seasons ago, finishing second to Mansfield Town by just two points. Harriers then lost 5-2 on aggregate against Wrexham in the play-off semi-finals. Last season, the Worcestershire side finished seventh in the Conference Premier table, five points outside the play-off places; despite losing just one of their last thirteen league fixtures.
Rovers have met Kiddy, 5 times at the Mem with 4 wins and 1 defeat. The last game was a 2-0 victory on 23 October 2004 when a Junior Agogo double sealed the points for Rovers.
The Red’s boss Gary Whild has had to send two players out on loan to cut costs. He has been told he must reduce the cash-strapped club’s wage bill by sending keeper Jasbir Singh and midfielder Josh O’Keefe respectively to Gloucester City and Chester on two month deals.
Whild said: “The club’s financial situation means we have to juggle players around to get them off the wage bill. Unless we pull a rabbit out of the hat, like we did when we brought in Matt Robinson from Luton, we’re not in a position to strengthen.”
Whild added: “We’ve got three tough games coming up against sides who have all traditionally played in the Football League but are finding out how difficult winning promotion from the Conference is. We want to build on the excellent result against Torquay and get some momentum.
“If we’ve beaten Aldershot last night then we’ll be just outside the play-off spots, so we are not far off where we want to be.”
Whild is going to have to tighten the belt even more as he has been told that he needs to offload striker Michael Gash, whose goals helped Harriers to the Conference play-offs in 2013, "The script has changed a bit," Whild noted "That's where we are. We can't afford the likes of Michael Gash, so we need to look to get him out somewhere and get him fixed up.
"The main thing is making sure the lads who are here are getting paid. Hopefully, over the next 24 to 48 hours, something might happen. There's one or two clubs interested, although his wife is due to have a baby any day now which also has to be taken into consideration. Hopefully we can get something sorted out."