"They've got themselves on a good run of wins" - Kidderminster Harriers v FC Halifax Town: Opposition Focus

We spoke to Derek Bish from the Express and Star newspaper for the lowdown on FC Halifax Town's opponents on Sunday.

Friday, 3rd December 2021, 3:25 pm
Kidderminster manager Russell Penn

How big an occasion will Sunday be for Kidderminster?

"Obviously Kidderminster were in the Football League not so long ago and these big cup ties would have been a bit more regular.

"It's been a more difficult few years for the club. Every time they've looked like they were getting some momentum something gets in the way, most recently it's been Covid obviously.

Sign up to our daily Halifax Courier Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

"Things seem to have been going pretty well this season and it'll be great to have something that will bring all the fans together, something to hang their hat on, and hopefully a good cup run could be the spark to finally get up to the National League."

What form do Kidderminster come into the game in?

"The Grimsby game was part of what's been a really good form for Kidderminster recently.

"Since they beat Ware in the third qualifying round of the FA Cup, they lost their next game, but after that they beat Bedfont Sports in the fourth qualifying round of the cup, which they were obviously expected to do, but it was a bit of a tricky tie away.

"They've gone on a decent run of winning league games. They beat Spennymoor 4-0 a week before playing Grimsby in the cup, and they were excellent that day against Grimsby, with Ashley Hemmings scoring the winning goal from the penalty spot.

"Grimsby were clearly the favourites for that match so it was quite the result for Kidderminster, quite the feather in the cap for the manager Russ Penn, who is trying to build some momentum.

"He is well known and well liked at the club and that was a real plus point for him and the team to turn over Grimsby, who are full-time like Kidderminster."

Who will be Kidderminster's dangerman?

"The man who springs to mind straight away is Sam Austin.

"He's played in just about every position for Harriers since he joined them about five years ago.

"He's made about 200 appearances for them now, he's scored a fair few goals for them as well.

"He scored in their win at Gloucester City a week ago, and twice in the game before against Alfreton.

"When he does score he does tend to find the net with a decent goal as well, they're not always tap-ins.

"He's good creatively, he knows where the back of the net is and it'd be great to see him get into the third round where perhaps someone from higher up is going to sit up and take notice what a good player he is, although obviously not from a Kidderminster point of view!

"He's the sort of player who has deserved a decent chance at a higher level before now.

"When I've seen him play it's been a right-back or right-wing but he has filled in at centre midfield after someone went off.

"It's usually in off the right or central midfield."

How realistic is a promotion bid for Kidderminster this season?

"It's something they've wanted ever since they got relegated from the National League in 2016.

"They went close the first two seasons but then faded somewhat into mid-table.

"In the 2019-20 season, which was curtailed for Covid, they finished 15th.

"Sort of did OK in the very short campaign they had last season but this you feel Russ Penn is putting something good together, they've got themselves on a good run of wins, they've got this cup run going, they're still in the FA Trophy as well, they won through against Hereford on penalties at the weekend.

"It's always hard to say at that level with one automatic promotion spot and then the six-team play-offs but they will certainly be there or thereabouts with having a chance of promotion.

"They've scored more goals than anyone else in the league this season, so they certainly know where the net is going forward, it's just about whether they can keep it going.

"They are one of the full-time sides in that league so you wouldn't feel they'd run out of steam compared to some of their rivals, but there are teams like Fylde, Chorley, Brackley and Gateshead in there so there's plenty of good teams battling for it.

"But you'd certainly expect Kidderminster to be there or thereabouts this season."

Who is the manager at Kidderminster and how is he doing?

"Russ played for them in the mid-2000's, just after they'd come back down from the Football League.

"He got to the third round with them as a player when they played Coventry City, which was obviously a big tie with them being quite near neighbours.

"They beat Curzon Ashton in the second round that year so that was another all non-league tie.

"He took over as caretaker manager in November 2019 before Jimmy Shand came in. He then moved onto Solihull Moors quite quickly and then Russ Penn took the job then.

"With Covid he's not really had a proper run at it so far but he's gone about building a decent team this season, you can see by the players he's wanted to sign and the way he wants to play that it's been quite a methodical building of the squad, a lot of trust place in some of those players that have been there for a few years and perhaps, as a team overall, haven't performed to the levels they wanted in terms of getting into the play-offs.

"But players like Austin and Hemmings are really starting to fire now."

What kind of crowd are you expecting on Sunday?

"There should be a good crowd. The home games this season have been attracting decent crowds, particularly the Saturday games, which average around the 1,500 mark, which is good.

"When there's been a decent away following as well, that's been boosted.

"They've gone over 2,000 a couple of times this season, when Chester and Telford came down.

"There were 2,799 for the last cup tie against Grimsby, so there's hope they could break that 3,000 barrier, which would be really nice to see.

"They've been in the league in the not too distant past and it would be nice to have something to grab onto for the first time in a few years."