Ecstasy for Williams but agony for his Harriers

Kidderminster Harriers 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1
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The Independent Football

Just two minutes separated Wolves from being on the receiving end of one of the all-time FA Cup upsets. With the illuminated clock above the stand containing their apprehensive supporters showing a bright green 88, Alex Rae potted the goal which earned them the draw that the manager, Dave Jones, was first to concede they did not deserve.

Only 17 miles separate Molineux from Kidderminster's Aggborough ground but there was even less of a gap in class on this bright, effervescent showing by the Harriers, between the lower reaches of the Premiership and the bottom end of the Third Division inhabited by the two teams.

Though goal chances were sparse, Kidderminster's superiority, achieved through excellent football as well as brimming desire and commitment, seemed to have received its due reward 13 minutes from the end.

The goal had fairytale written all over it, netted as it was by John Williams, a 35-year-old former postman who had come on as substitute only three minutes previously. Williams, who has had Premiership experience with Coventry and a dozen years ago held the official title of Fastest Man in the League following a speed competition at Wembley, is not even on a contract with Kidderminster, having been told by the manager, Jan Molby, that he has this season to prove himself if he wants to be retained.

Well, he proved himself here, reacting smartly to the arrival of a corner from the right taken by Graham Ward, turning with the speed for which he was renowned and finding the far corner of the net with a low shot.

So pathetic had Wolves been until then, it seemed inevitable their awful season would plummet to a new low. But, as Jones observed of his team: "It was only when Kidderminster scored that we seemed to buck up." Even so the shot which Rae, the top Wolves scorer this season, drove across the body of Stuart Brock after latching on to Colin Cameron's pass, was the first decent effort they had managed.

The effort by the Romanian substitute, Ioan Ganea, which was blocked in injury time by Kidderminster's outstanding captain, Wayne Hatswell, could so easily have given Wolves the unlikeliest and most undeserved of victories instead of the replay which, on this form at least, Kidderminster will feel they could still win.

Jones did not spare his team the lash they deserved. "We were poor," he said. "The stupid thing was we could have won at the death and that would really have been unfair on Kidderminster. Premiership players should know always to expect a hard game in the Cup when they face this type of club because they always raise their game, and we didn't raise ours.

"We took our foot off the gas. Some of my players thought they could coast and once they gave Kidderminster a taste of the cherry we nearly paid for it. The last time we played as badly as this was when I first came to Wolves three years ago, against Wycombe, also in the Cup."

With a crucial League game against Blackburn on Wednesday, Jones chose to rest Paul Ince and as a result the middle of the field was conceded to the Third Division strugglers. Until he departed injured at the interval, Danny Williams was outstanding in this area for the Harriers, while Dean Bennett never ceased trying to set up something for the Danish striking force of Bo Henriksen and Jesper Christriansen, who was making his debut.

Wolves, four times winners of this trophy, hardly managed an attack worthy of the name in the first 45 minutes. That said, Kidderminster were not much more of a threat, though Henriksen, last season's top scorer with 20, was off target with two takeable chances.

Nor did the second half offer much more until John Williams erupted into the proceedings. Perhaps he will do it again at Molineux.

Kidderminster Harriers 1
J Williams 77

Wolverhampton Wanderers 1
Rae 89

Half-time 0-0 Attendance: 6,005