Kenny Miller, whose season has been blighted by injuries and under-achievement for Wolverhampton Wanderers, struck twice last night to thwart Kidderminster's hopes of bridging a disparity of 68 League places in the third round FA Cup replay between the neighbours at Molineux.
The Scotland striker, a £3m signing from Rangers, trebled his tally for the campaign with a goal either side of half-time, earning Wolves a fourth-round home tie against West Ham United a week next Sunday. If Miller's first was straightforward enough, his second was shrouded in controversy, with Kidderminster's director of football, Jan Molby, justifiably suggesting the ball had not crossed the line.
"It killed the game," Molby said, adding sarcastically: "The linesman was very brave to give it, especially since he was not in line. Paul Durkin said on Sunday [after refusing Newcastle a penalty at Old Trafford] that you have to be 100 per cent sure. I don't think this linesman was."
In what sounded like a thinly veiled dig at the moderate standard of the Premiership's bottom club, who were admittedly some way below full-strength, the Dane argued that the "only difference" between Wolves and Kidderminster had been the hosts' "quality in the final third".
For the Wolves manager, Dave Jones, the result was all. "It was just about getting through," he said. "We could have done without this game but we didn't do the job properly at their place." Of the goal that had so annoyed Molby, he observed dryly: "It looked over the line to me."
The underdogs' disappointment was compounded by the fact that they had been 90 seconds from victory over Wolves on 3 January before Alex Rae levelled. They again performed creditably, but must now focus on staying in the Third Division, where they stand 19th, starting against relegation rivals Darlington on Saturday.
The same day, Wolves meet Manchester United, with Liverpool to follow next Wednesday. With those fixtures in mind, Jones rested Paul Ince and other regulars. It was a risky strategy, given that Kidderminster gave Wolves a footballing lesson for long periods in the first meeting.
Kidderminster had ridden out early pressure and were gaining in confidence when Miller made the breakthrough 10 minutes before half-time. Mark Kennedy's free-kick to the far post was headed back across goal by Vio Ganea, the Romanian forward making his full debut for Wolves, whereupon Miller outjumped Adie Smith to score.
The pattern persisted after the break. Kidderminster pushed forward neatly and in numbers without really threatening until Graham Ward, once of Wolves, saw a free header thud into a colleague after 64 minutes. The old-gold shirts counter-attacked and Miller's cross clipped the head of a defender before Stuart Brock pushed it on to the back post.
As it bounced along the line, Craig Hinton, one of two Wolves fanatics in the visitors' ranks, hacked it clear. Wolves should have been left with 25 minutes to defend the most slender advantage. The referee, Matt Messias, further fuelling the debate about technology being used to determine whether a ball has crossed the line, decided otherwise.
Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-4-2): Oakes; Luzhny, Clyde, Craddock Butler; Newton Gudjonsson, Andrews, Kennedy (Silas, 90); Miller, Ganea (Iversen, 82). Substitutes not used: Ikeme (gk), Rae, Cameron.
Kidderminster Harriers (4-4-2): Brock; Smith, Hinton, Hatswell, Stamps; Ward, Bennett, D Williams, Parrish (Rickards, 78); Christiansen (J Williams, 78), Henriksen. Substitutes not used: Danby (gk), Gadsby, White.
Referee: M Messias (York).Reuse content