Opinion: Defeat hurts - but we have to keep the faith
By Telegraph columnist Geoff Ford
WERE the visitors that good? Were the Mariners that bad?
Kidderminster Harriers have slotted seven goals past Grimsby Town in two games at Blundell Park. Maybe that tells its own story.
They combined impressive passing and movement with speed and physical strength - it's rare to get all those qualities in a side so low in the football pyramid.
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But football matches are often decided by very fine margins and Town could argue that had the two first half efforts from Ross Hannah gone in the result might have been very different.
They could argue that the second goal on the stroke of half time was a killer, the third an unfortunate own goal. The fans could contend that Hannah should have stayed on or that Brodie should have been introduced rather than John-Lewis.
But these are all ifs and maybes and and merely paper over some of the cracks.
Many of us fans have been worried that such a result was just around the corner. We've been shifting uncomfortably in our seats concerned at Town's inability to dominate at home. Wondering if sheer will to win coupled with individual quality would be enough to get us out of this league.
Whether we like the label or not, Town are often a direct side. It may be by design, it may be because of a lack of confidence on the ball, fear of a mistake, the state of the pitch or teams pressing them high up the field.
But launch it they do. The argument for this philosophy is that you play your football in the opponents' half of the pitch, not your own. And with a record of achievement which took them to a Wembley final and top spot in the Conference, the tactics have clearly been justified.
But their championship aspirations now look less strong, the play-offs may be the more likely route to promotion. Is this because opponents have worked Town out? Have they realised how much they rely on Andy Cook getting his head to punts forward? That our full backs when pressured will inevitably hoist it down the line?
Kidderminster closed off those avenues on Saturday. And while Town were often direct, the Harriers played through them. And it was worrying to witness the ease with which they accomplished it.
While wide men Joe Colbeck, Marcus Marshall and Jamie Devitt each gave up possession in the build up to the goals, Kiddy got men forward much quicker than the Mariners got them back. All three came from crosses that were not cut out.
So was this a blip? Are Kidderminster a one-off in this league at present? Have certain players become a little jaded and could there be a tactical reassessment? Are Town vulnerable without Sean Pearson and Derek Niven in the side?
All questions to mull over. I suspect that the methods that have brought so much success will be maintained with tweaks here and there. It's too late for major changes and the management quite justifiably believe their course is the right one.
We fans may all have our views, but we have to keep the faith.