Non-League Football: Harriers banking on home comforts

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The Independent Online
IN THE GM Vauxhall Conference and two of its three feeder leagues, the top two teams meet tomorrow in encounters which may have a big influence on championship and promotion issues, writes Rupert Metcalf.

Kidderminster Harriers entertain Southport, two points adrift, at Aggborough in the Conference. With 10 wins there, Harriers have the best home record in the league. Overall, they have lost only two of their last 21 league games, while Southport have lost just three of their last 24 matches.

If they win the title, however, Harriers may be unable to move up to the Football League, because they do not have a 'Grade A' ground certificate after failing to meet a 31 December deadline to provide at least 1,000 seats.

'We've had a raw deal, the deadline was unrealistic,' Dave Reynolds, the Harriers chairman, said yesterday. 'We've shown during our FA Cup run we can cope with gates of 8,000.'

As a mooted ground-share with West Bromwich Albion is against League rules, Kidderminster will have to depend on the League bending its rules and allowing them more time to build a new stand. Southport, though, met the deadline and expect to hear this month that they are eligible for promotion should they win the title.

In the Diadora League, Marlow, a point clear with a game in hand, entertain Stevenage, for whom Brian Stein, the former Luton and England striker, scored a hat-trick in last weekend's 4-1 win over Kingstonian.

Marlow have not applied for promotion to the Conference, and neither have Marine, the Northern Premier League leaders. They visit Leek Town, who are seven points adrift with four games in hand. Unlike the Football League, the Conference will accept the first or second clubs from its three feeder leagues, so Leek and the other hopefuls around the country may not have to finish first to go up.

Another top-two encounter on Monday saw Tiverton travel to Taunton, with both sides having dropped just two points each this term in the Great Mills League. In front of a crowd of 2,854, Tiverton won

3-1 with goals from Kevin Smith and Phil Everett (2) to extend their lead to nine points.