By Gerry PrewettAs the season draws to a close Bristol Rovers are looking to collect maximum points from all their remaining games starting this afternoon at Kidderminster’s Aggborough. Kiddy are in dire straits financially and it has had an inevitable effect on the field as players have been sold or for those that remain, not paid.
Harrier’s Boss Gary has overseen the departure of Michael Gash, Josh Gowling and Kyle Storer as well as the sale of Nathan Blissett, Chey Dunkley and Marvin Johnson this season which has ultimately seen his team’s promotion aspirations die.
The game is important to the home team because it will help to pay club employees the rest of their wages for March. Staff were only paid a third of their money last week. Whild added: "More things are coming to light with what we've had to deal with.
This is a great contrast to the start of the season when the Midlanders took 15 points from their opening 7 games and no defeats. They have also shown they are no pushovers with a remarkable 3-3 draw at Barnet, where they came back from being 3-0 down at half-time.
In their latest game on Saturday, Kiddy oversaw the relegation of AFC Telford. The Shropshire team took lead just after the hour mark when Tony Gray headed in Adam Farrell's cross.
But the visitors levelled on 78 minutes when a mistake from Sean Clancy allowed Callum Gittings to slot the ball home. Danny Ventre almost claimed a dramatic win for the hosts late on but his fierce shot was saved by Dan Lewis.
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, 4 times at Aggborough and have yet to win! Rovers first visit to Kidderminster was in the 2001/02 season. The home team went ahead when Broughton played a goal kick on to Dean Bennett who then surged towards the Rovers goal. He then unleashed a shot from the corner of the area that simply flew into the net just inside the far post, leaving Howie for dead.
Rovers’ fate was sealed when Keates ran onto a through ball from Danny Williams and calmly advanced on the keeper, picked his spot, and stroked it past him into the back of the net. It was a bad tempered game which saw 7 players booked.
The 2004/05 saw Rovers last visit to Aggborough and once again they were 1-0 down at half-time. Blair Sturrock put the home team into the lead with a superbly executed goal. Cozic played the ball between the Rovers rearguard and Sturrock swiftly ran round them, onto the ball, and clipped it over the Kevin Miller’s keepers head.
Rovers came back into the game in the second half and equalised when Steve Elliot pushed the ball forward for Richard Walker to pinpoint Junior Agogo who shot straight through Danbys legs for the equaliser.
Talking ahead of today’s game Boss Gary Whild said, “On Monday there will be a big crowd, as well as a big following from Bristol Rovers, which is great at this time of the season. There will be a big atmosphere and, with our game Barnet coming up too, we can have our own say.”
“The pity for us is, if things had gone OK, we probably would have been in there with a shout and there would have been more on the game from our point of view. It would have been great to have a full group of players and go into Monday with a chance of winning it or getting into the play-offs.
“It’s not to be, but we need to be ready for Monday; I’m always confident of our chances and that’s just the type of game you want to be playing in at this stage.”
Whild handed 17-year-old Academy striker Jordan Harrison his first-team debut against AFC Telford United on Saturday, while Luke Maxwell also started and Kennedy Digie was introduced from the bench early on for the injured Aman Verma.
“It was important for us to go to Telford and do well on the back of last week,” Whild said, “We had a fantastic following again and you want to give them something to cheer about. It was good to see the young lads come in and give a good account of themselves - they did us proud.
“I didn’t think we deserved to go behind but they showed us a little bit of character to get themselves back in the game and keep going. We told Jordan yesterday that he was playing and obviously the lad is a bit nervous.
“But he’s got a good work ethic and I thought he showed a bit of composure; he never looked out of place. It was a shame for the lad that his goal was offside because he was away celebrating.
“They were all a credit to the club; and it was nice to see one of our experienced players Callum Gittings on the scoresheet too.”