Oldham Athletic are back on the road in the Vanarama National League in search of their third consecutive victory when they visit Kidderminster.
Interim boss Steve Thompson has produced a swift turnaround of results and performances following his introduction nine days ago, securing wins at Boundary Park against both York City and more recently Oxford City.
The 4-0 win last weekend was Latics most comprehensive result since their 5-1 rout on matchday two of Aldershot Town and has brought Oldham into 13th place in the National League now well in that pack chasing those final play-off spots.
Devarn Green began the scoring in what was a man of the match display, producing a terrific run and turn before coolly slotting home. Brennan Dickenson got his first of two of the afternoon, blasting a wicked strike into the top corner from just outside the area.
James Norwood returned from suspension with an instinctive finish from close range in injury time, before minutes later Dickenson scored the best of the lot, whipping a wonderful free-kick into the top corner to round off an excellent display.
The hosts meanwhile suffered their third consecutive defeat on the road at Eastleigh last weekend. The Spitfires came from behind after Kidderminster took an early lead through a Gerry McDonagh penalty following a bright start from the visitors.
The result has left the Harriers second from bottom after 11 games played, whilst their only win came at York on matchday two.
Kidderminster boss Russell Penn gave a damning review of his sides’ fortunes following their 2-1 defeat at Eastleigh, describing his players are “lacking belief” and even that “some aren’t grabbing the shirt.”
It was in fact a lively start from the Harriers, who got on the front foot and claimed some good territory in the York half, but Paul McCallum turned it around by himself in the first half, hitting back with two smart headers to put his side in front.
That result has left Kidderminster winless in their last nine, whilst their last point came in the 1-1 draw with Rochdale at Aggborough where they are still yet to come away with a victory this season.
Their 1-0 win at York is their only win, ranking the least wins in the National League, and though their defensive record is respectable having conceded the least goals in the bottom half (14), their dire attacking numbers are what is preventing them from securing victories.
The Harriers are one of two sides to have scored less than ten goals this season (5), whilst they have failed to score in six of their 11 fixtures. McDonagh’s strike from 12 yards at the weekend meant he became just their fourth scorer of the season, whilst Amari Morgan-Smith is the only player with more than one goal.
We could expect to see a major shake-up from the team that started at the Silverlake Stadium. Penn heavily indicated big changes must be made to turn their fortunes around this season,
whilst his brutally honest take post Eastleigh could send a huge wake up call to his players ahead of the meeting with an in-form Oldham side.
Thompson will be encouraged by the lack of offensive firepower shown on display so far by the Harrier’s frontline this season, and though Morgan-Smith tops the charts for goals, the interim boss must be wary of the threat on the flanks.
Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain has shown to be a real spark on the right-hand side for Kidderminster this season following his move from King’s Lynn in the summer, and certainly has the qualities of a traditional wide man.
Although the Englishman has yet to produce contributions to goals so far, he has been a consistent threat down the right side and has impressed in a more offensive position at Aggborough.
One of his main attributes is his delivery which has been unfortunate to not have been rewarded on numerous occasions this season. His performance against Rochdale earlier in the campaign highlighted his typically accurate crossing ability which should have provided at least a goal.
Chamberlain also provides great width to his side, generally hugging the touchline, providing space for his teammates in central areas, whilst also proving to be an outlet when his side are in attacking positions.
Though Kidderminster are struggling to score goals, if any threat is to come in midweek, don’t be shocked if it is to come through Chamberlain, who only requires half a yard of space to produce a wicked delivery.
In the hot seat
The 37-year-old manager has endured a difficult start to his third full season in charge at Aggborough, though his passion and dedication to the club is there for all to see following his retirement as a Harriers player in 2019.
Penn immediately got to work for the club, first in December of that year he became assistant manager to James Shan who later parted ways with the club after just 67 days in the job, where Penn was appointed as caretaker manager.
In that brief period Penn won two of the four games in the role, winning seven points from 12, and surely enough it was deemed he was suited to the job where he has since managed 122 fixtures.
In his first full season as boss in the 2021/22 National League North, he led his side to a comfortable fourth placed finish, which frankly was a terrific first season as boss. That team also ranked second in goals scored and conceded the second fewest but were beaten in the first round of the playoffs by eventual finalists Boston United.
The Harrier’s the following season meanwhile didn’t quite reach the heights in terms of numbers and position, but Penn had made his side more ruthless and efficient, ending sixth following six consecutive victories to round off the campaign.
That Kidderminster team then beat Alfreton (0-1), King’s Lynn (1-4) and Brackley (0-2) to conclude a remarkable promotion clinching season, though struggles have followed the Harrier’s and Penn since their move up to the fifth tier of English football.
There has been promise and potential when looking at Penn’s Kidderminster side over the past few seasons, though it seems the Englishman has now found the difference in level in the National League.
However, Oldham can be a perfect example of how quickly things can turnaround. Just over a week ago, Latics were flirting with the relegation zone, but two wins have completely changed the feeling at Boundary Park.
One good result could shift the momentum in the Harriers’ favour, though a tough test awaits against the most in form team in the bottom half. Penn will need to figure out something, and fast, if he wishes to turn the season right around.
The referee will be David Richardson, assisted by Jason Roberts and Lewis Mansfield-King. Tom Wall is the fourth official.
Match coverage and information
Live audio commentary is available on Latics Player, guiding you through the match.
Alternatively, supporters can also follow the game with live updates on the club's official Twitter account: @OfficialOAFC
As this game is not being played within the blocked broadcast hours stipulated by UEFA, live streaming will be available through National League TV for supporters in the UK and overseas.
As always, we will endeavour to ensure confirmation of the line-up is published as soon as possible on social media.
However, supporters should note that team sheets in the National League are not exchanged until an hour before kick-off. This is 15 minutes later than in the EFL and as a result, the line-up is likely to be published slightly later than in previous seasons.