Harriers so far - good but could be better

First published in Blogs 2014 Bromsgrove Advertiser: Photograph of the Author by , Sports Editor

TWO months into the season and Harriers are well-positioned in the Blue Square Bet Premier but you can't help feel things could even be better.

After 12 games Steve Burr's troops are seventh in the table, five points off the top spot and the one of the division's top scorers but there are some grumbles around Aggborough.

Why? The main reason is they have yet to find their stride at home, compared to their excellent away form.

So far, Harriers have beaten Alfreton and Southport, lost to Gateshead and drew with Stockport, Ebbsfleet and Grimsby.

Let's analyse these results - Gateshead have caught everyone out with the way they have started the season and Harriers were certainly unprepared for the North East side's attacking quality.

They were also a bit unlucky as they conceded a controversial penalty early on.

Stockport were the better side but Harriers scrapped to a draw, while the two wins were hard earned against teams committed to trying to stop Burr's side play.

But it has been dropped points because of last-gasp equalisers against Ebbsfleet and Grimsby which have certainly caused consternation among the fans.

I did not see the Ebbsfleet game but certainly against Grimsby, Harriers created enough chances to win it and in the end paid the price for not scoring a second goal.

The extra points from both games would have placed Harriers firmly in the top five and ensured they had points in the bag for what is a long and testing campaign.

Perhaps the greatest lesson which needs to be learned from those draws, is that sometimes in the dying minutes when there's a slender score to protect, Harriers may have to rein in their eagerness to attack and hold onto the ball.

But it would be wrong to be negative, the Aggborough outfit are six places better off than the same time last season and most importantly, at this stage look on track to make the 80 point mark, which seems to be the average figure to finish fifth in the table and make the end of season play-offs.

Last season, it needed a fabulous run to get close to the top five, which was inevitably scuppered by their five-point deduction.

Perhaps this time Harriers won't need to produce such a show-stopping sequence of unbeaten results to reach their ultimate goal.

It is still early days in the league but it's clear this season could be one of the closest for years.

At the moment, teams tipped as contenders for the title seem to be dropping far too many points.

Luton and York are both below Harriers, while surprise packages Gateshead and Conference South champions Braintree are top of the table.

With the league so tight, Harriers need to be making hay, particuarly while the Indian summer sun still shines.

One note on the referees. There's no doubt the standard of officiating at Aggborough has been poor - performances during the Gateshead, Alfreton and of course Grimsby matches have not been good enough but they did not affect the outcome of results.

Harriers' defending against Gateshead was leaky and against Grimsby, had they put their chances away they would have won the game.

If Kyle Storer had been sent off with Harriers 2-0 or 3-0 ahead (which they could have been), the impact on the result would have been less dramatic.

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