After 12 minutes it looked set to be a bleak afternoon for Gloucester City, as Kidderminster Harriers raced into a 2-0 lead. Fast forward to the end of the game, and The Tigers have completed a sensational comeback to win 3-2.
Early strikes from Ethan Freemantle and Sam Austin set Harriers on their way to what appeared to be three points, but the resilient Tigers fought back and Keanu Marsh-Brown got one back to make it 2-1 heading into half time.
Matt McClure would then tap home following a Jack Burroughs cross to level the scores, before Jordan Young scored a cracker from a free kick, the ball rattling the underside of the crossbar on its way in.
The win sees City now seven points clear at the top of the National League North. But what did we learn from that game? If only someone had compiled a handy list…
1) Even when missing key components, the young players in the squad never know when they’re beat.
This is probably the most important one for Gloucester if they want to get to where they want to go. How many times in the past have you seen a team, missing some of their key players (in this case Bernard Mensah, Gavin Gunning and Liam Daly) roll over when going two goals down? When the lineups were released before the game it looked like City might struggle with missing some of their leaders, but they let their football do the talking.
The character that they showed for the last 60 minutes was exceptional. Something clicked and when it did they dominated Kidderminster and a big part of it were Jordan Young, Jack Burroughs, Ben Morgan, Rhys Lovett and Josh Thomas just doing their job. It might sound like such a simple point, but if you do what you’re supposed to do your odds of success improve drastically – and that’s exactly what they did.
2) Ben Morgan can step up and be the leader of the back line.
So we know that Liam Daly could be confirmed as a Barnet player soon, but even without the transfer speculation he would have been suspended yesterday regardless. That meant Gloucester needed someone to step up at the back and lead the back line. It wasn’t likely to be Tom Harrison as he’s still getting to grips with the system, so it fell to Ben Morgan to step up and lead the back three.
He was the first to admit that he could have done better at the other end of the pitch after he missed three headed chances, but where he was needed to be, he was a rock at the back for his side and also showed off his ability with the ball at his feet. Not only that, but he found his voice at crucial times as well, organising his centre back partners Harrison and Thomas. When City were looking for a leader, Morgan stepped up in a big way.
3) Jack Burroughs and Jordan Young are very good and the club should do everything they can to extend their loans.
The two Coventry City loanees really took this game by the scruff of the neck. We’ll start with Burroughs; he was kept quiet down attacking down the left side for the opening 20 minutes, but you could tell he was growing into the game and as he became more and more confident he began to get the better of Alex Penny at right back. His delivery was excellent and his crosses were begging to be turned home, which McClure duly obliged after the hour mark after his best cross of the game – low and hard to the near post.
Now, what can you say about Jordan Young that hasn’t already been said? He covered so much ground yesterday it was unreal to watch. Here you have a young player thrust into mens football who looks like he’s been doing it at that level for years. He was always looking to get on the ball and when he had it, rarely misplaced a pass. Yes, his yellow card was a rush of blood to the head but after he’d scored that free kicks moments before, I don’t think you can begrudge him that. There’s not much else you can say about the free kick other than “wow” – so we’ll just let you watch for yourself…
4) Gloucester need a couple more additions to boost the squad as the bench was lacking depth.
This one isn’t so much a reflection on the result itself it’s moreso a reflection on where Gloucester currently sit as a squad. Yes there are key players out with injury and they’ve lost a couple of players who have left the club, but when you look at the bench yesterday (Fabien Robert, Bradley Webb, Alex Hainault, Jamie Bremner and Niall Maher), Paul Groves will certainly feel that there will be players out there who can add something different to his squad who, when not starting, can make a real impact from the bench.
Championship winning sides have strength in depth right across the pitch and that is probably the one area that Gloucester would need to improve on if they did want to push home their advantage at the top of the table even more. Yes, co-chairman Alex Petheram will say the objective is “anything higher than 17th”, but if City make the right additions to the squad and hold onto the players they have, yesterday’s game showed that they can be contendors.