Kidderminster Harriers 1 Grimsby Town 4
The Mariners’ first-ever trip to Aggborough resulted in a 4-1 victory for Russell Slade’s side and sealed relegation to the Conference for a Harriers’ side managed by future Grimsby assistant Stuart Watkiss.
Slade’s men were having a strange end to a disjointed 2004/05 season. This victory marked their only one in ten games towards the end of the term but, on the flip side of that, the Mariners could boast just one defeat in seven games by the time they finished their campaign with a home draw to Southend.
It had been a terrible season for Kidderminster with off-field problems contributing heavily to woes on it and for long periods the Harriers looked doomed to return to non-league football. But a resurgence under Watkiss meant they entered the final two games of the season mathematically capable of survival but knowing that they would have to win both games by improbable margins and hope that Rushden and Diamonds ahead of them capitulated.
But Slade’s troops were not in the giving mood and they raced into an early two-goal lead on a baking late-April afternoon in Worcestershire.
An eighth-minute free kick gave Ronnie Bull the opportunity to load up the box and his floating ball found the 6’7” frame of Rob Jones stooping to head home his first Mariners’ goal from inside the area.
And within five minutes the visitors had doubled their lead. Thomas Pinault clipped a long ball over the top of the defence for Michael Reddy to run on to and he outpaced the opposition to finish coolly past John Danby in the home goal.
That really deflated the atmosphere around Aggborough and Slade’s side proceeded to control the remainder of the opening 45 minutes without breaking into much of a sweat, despite the roasting conditions.
Watkiss made a double change at the interval, introducing Steve Burton for Billy Jones at the back and Gary Birch in place of Chris Beardsley in attack. And it was the burly frame of Birch that out Harriers back in contention just two minutes into the second half.
The Mariners failed to deal with a corner and, when the ball returned into the six-yard box, Birch was on hand to hook home from close range.
But within a minute any hopes of a dramatic comeback were foiled as Reddy raced away down the left flank and clipped a ball in for strike partner Andy Parkinson, probably the smallest player on the field, to rise and plant a header home from just eight yards.
It was now a case of how many the Mariners could rack up and Slade was even able to introduce defender Glen Downey and midfielder Nick Hegarty for first-team debuts as Town eased their way through the final 40 minutes.
As it was there was only one more goal to come and it was a second for the impressive Reddy. The hosts made a real hash of clearing their lines and the ball dropped for the Irishman, who fired in an unstoppable drive into the top right corner from 12 yards.
Harriers: Danby; B Jones (Burton 46), Jackson, Hatswell, Chambers; Cozic, Russell (Sturrock 83), Keates, McGrath; Beardsley (Birch 46), Rawle. Subs not used: Lewis, Weaver
Mariners: Williams; Ramsden, Bull, Whittle, R Jones (Downey 76), Crane; Crowe (Coldicott 80), Fleming, Pinault; Reddy, Parkinson (Hegarty 72). Subs not used: Hockless, Soames