Football: Stevenage to take up the cry

Non-League notebook
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The Independent Online
Kidderminster Harriers hold a formidable 15-point lead at the top of the GM Vauxhall Conference - but second-placed Stevenage Borough have five games in hand and are in no mood to concede their title to the Worcestershire outfit, whom they entertain tomorrow in the season's most crucial Conference game to date.

The defending champions are expecting their best crowd of the season, topping the 4,352 who turned up to watch Woking at Broadhall Way in November, although they stress that the match is not all-ticket. Stevenage warmed up for tomorrow's big game with a crushing 6-1 win over Bath City in Monday's FA Umbro Trophy first-round replay, in which Corey Browne scored a hat- trick. The bandana-clad Nigerian defender Efetober Sodje, who has a groin strain, is their only injury doubt.

Kidderminster did not need a replay to progress to the second round of the Trophy - they thrashed the holders, Macclesfield Town, 3-0 at Aggborough last weekend. The trip to Hertfordshire will hold no fears for the Harriers as their away record is outstanding: they are unbeaten in nine games on the road and have not lost away since they went to Southport in August. The defender Chris Brindley returns after suspension tomorrow but their captain, the midfielder Mark Yates, is still banned.

"I know Stevenage, despite their games in hand, would gladly swap places with us," Graham Allner, the Kidderminster manager, said last night.

Allner agreed that this season's title race is more intense because, unlike the last three seasons, the likely champions will be promoted to the Football League. "Now it's for real," said Allner, whose team were denied promotion in 1994. "Now we can actually do it."

Dover are expected to announce their new manager today, in time for tomorrow's trip to Stalybridge Celtic, following last weekend's resignation of Joe O'Sullivan. Gateshead, who do not have a fixture tomorrow, have named their coach Dave Clark as caretaker manager after Colin Richardson became the second Tyneside manager this year to leave his job.