Kidderminster Harriers v Latics
Paul Dickov described it as “professional” performance as Latics triumphed 2-0 at non-league Kidderminster Harriers in the first round of the FA Cup with Budweiser.
Latics’ manager saw second-half goals from Cristian Montano and Jose Baxter secure the win and a second-round place.
In truth it was a comfortable victory which could have been more emphatic as Latics created numerous chances.
But when they had to dig deep and withstand onslaughts from the hosts at the end of each half, Latics defended with great resolution.
Dickov said: “We knew it would be a tough match as we had them watched and also seen DVD’s of their games.
“We showed them respect as they are a dangerous side to play against, especially at home.
“We are delighted to get through to the next round, which is the most important thing, after a really professional performance. The boys were excellent.”
Dickov thought his side could have been three or four goals ahead inside the opening 20/25 minutes.
He knew Latics would have to withstand pressure at some stage of the match as happened late in each half.
“At whatever level, especially away from home, you are going to come under pressure, but defensively we were solid,” he continued.
Dickov added that after a goalless opening half he stressed to his players the importance of remaining patient and not becoming frustrated.
Teenager James Tarkowski replaced the suspended Jean-Yves M’voto, the one change from the side which kicked off at Crawley last Saturday.
Baxter brought a fine save from Kidderminster keeper Nathan Vaughan in the fifth minute of a half which saw Latics carve out 10 scoring chances.
It was Baxter who was again pulling the strings and oozing class and quality while he and co-striker Matt Derbyshire were a constant threat and winger Lee Croft at times unplayable.
Vaughan saved well to deny Baxter for a second time, but most of the chances flew wide of the target.
While Latics dominated in the opening period, Kidderminster also had their moments as Nathan Blissett had a goalbound header blocked while late in the half they also had two shouts for a penalty rejected, both for handball.
Kidderminster made a great start to the second period as Latics’ keeper Dean Bouzanis did well to turn over Anthony Malbon’s header while from the resulting corner Josh Gowling’s header flashed just wide.
Latics weathered the pressure and took the lead in the 52nd minute with a superb strike.
Baxter was the provider as he threaded a delightful through ball for Montano to burst through the middle and score with clinical precision.
There was a lengthy stoppage just short of the hour mark when Cliff Byrne was taken from the field on a stretcher with a rib injury sustained after a collision with Bouzanis who came out to punch clear a free kick.
Connor Brown came on at right back as Reece Wabara switched to the centre of defence to deputise for Byrne.
The reshuffle didn’t disrupt Latics who doubled their advantage midway through the half. Latics won a free kick on the left and Baxter fund the net as he whipped in a low shot which beat Vaughan low at his near post. It was his sixth goal for Latics.
If Latics thought it was game over, they were mistaken as Kidderminster made a good fist of it in the latter stages.
They had nothing to lose and laid siege to Latics’ defence which at times lived dangerously. But important blocks and deflections, allied with a degree of luck, kept Kidderminster at bay. In seven minutes of stoppage time they were fortunate not to concede a penalty after claims of handball against Brown.
Latics had earlier introduced Dean Furman in the 84th minute to provide a calming influence in midfield as Dickov looked to stem the tide of pressure his side was having to withstand.
Kidderminster (4-3-3): N Vaughan; L Vaughan, Gowling, Dunkley, Williams (Pilkington 84); Vincent, Storer (Demetriou 67), Briggs; Blissett (Johnson 64), Rowe, Malbon. Subs (not used): Lewis, Gittings,Guinan, Peniket.
Latics (4-4-2): Bouzanis; Wabara, Tarkowski, Byrne (Brown 60), Grounds; Croft (Sutherland 90+6), Simpson, Wesolowski, Montano (Furman 84); Baxter, Derbyshire. Subs (not used): Cisak, Smith, M’Changama, Cooper.
The goals: Montano (52), Baxter (65) for Latics.
Bookings: Rowe (20), Briggs (70), Pilkington (90+3) for Kidderminster. Baxter (22), Brown (84), Croft (90+2), Wesolowski (90+6) for Latics.
Referee: Mr D Webb (County Durham).
Attendace: 2,888 (662 visitors).