Football / FA Cup Fourth Round: Whizzkid Humphreys overturns odds
Sunday 30 January 1994
Preston North End . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0
WHEN Delwyn Humphreys scored the winning goal yesterday he performed a spectacular somersault. It was appropriate, as Kidderminster turned over the supposed order of things to become only the fourth non- League team ever to reach the fifth round of the FA Cup.
When Humphreys, a builder by trade, scored the only goal after 47 minutes, he removed the last Third Division team from the competition and ensured the Cup this year will have its sprinkling of romance.
For this was the win for the purer footballing team. Kidderminster did not fit the image of a normal non-league underdog, snapping at their betters' heels, making up for their lack of skill with running. There was a route-one team at Aggborough yesterday, but it was not the GM Vauxhall Conference leaders, it was Preston.
The Third Division team were fitter and more muscular but their play had little or no imagination. Indeed just about the only thing they brought the game was an offside trap that was superbly oiled, although it hardly made for enlightening football.
It was defeated in the classic manner - a winger going down the flank and then pulling the ball back. Jon Purdie, the most skilful player on the pitch, dribbled down the left and supplied Humphreys, who side-footed in from seven yards.
His celebration was as acrobatic as his finishing had been efficient. 'I saw Peter Beagrie do something similar on television, and as I used to do gymnastics at school I thought I'd try it. The spectators expect it now.'
A Cup run does not always have beneficial effects on teams and Kidderminster had been debilitated by theirs. Before they defeated Birmingham City in the last round they had lost two of their previous 21 matches. Having sipped from the cup of success, however, they lurched to consecutive defeats.
Preston carried a record of only one defeat in eight matches into this tie, but there was very little to gauge how either team's confidence had been affected by form in an opening half devoid of action.
The Harriers had been marginally the better side in the first half; they began the second as if they had received the pep talk of their lives. Humphreys' goal was his 12th this season, and a minute later he almost made it 13. Purdie was involved again, this time with his head to knock back John Deakin's cross from the right. Humphreys again beat his marker, and his header defeated Steve Woods in the Preston goal but hit the bar.
The visitors' response was puzzling. John Beck, their manager, chose to take off his top scorer, Tony Ellis. He has scored 24 times this season and appeared to be uninjured, and although he had hardly been prominent he would surely have done better with the opportunity his replacement, Mickey Norbury, squandered after 66 minutes.
Humphreys' clearance cannoned off an attacker into the path of Norbury who had an unopposed route to the penalty area. The Preston striker drew Kevin Rose and appeared to have everything under control until both went sky high.
'They are the hardest team to play against in the bottom two divisions,' Graham Allner, Kidderminster's manager, said. 'The key to the match was whether we would get enough possession to pass the ball around; play our natural game.' Allner's preference in the next round was for local opponents. 'I've heard Wolves and Villa are through,' he said. 'Either would be a massive game for us.'
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