The sides meet this evening for an immediate rematch after Avenue took maximum points at Kidderminster’s expense last Saturday. This time, the league rivals are vying for a place in the play-off semi-finals where Brackley Town await.
The injured duo of Adam Nowakowski and Nicky Clee remain doubtful but Adam Smith and Javan Vidal are both in line to feature after being named as substitutes in Saturday’s win. Matt Hill could return after being ruled out of Saturday’s victory.
The wind is very much in Avenue’s sails following a run of five straight wins that included victories over play-off contenders Brackley Town, Harrogate Town and tonight’s opponents, Kidderminster Harriers.
Harriers’ unbeaten run stretched to six before Mark Bower’s side caused an upset and will be keen to return to winning ways.
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT
Both manager Mark Bower and defender Shane Killock have alluded to the experience in Avenue’s side in the run-up to the game and they certainly boast one of the most seasoned squads in the division.
Three years ago, Guiseley clinched promotion to the top tier of non-league football in the play-off final, defeating Chorley 3-2. Between the sticks for the Lions was current Avenue stopper Steven Drench, who was protected by a backline that featured Ryan Toulson. Danny Boshell and Wayne Brooksby both featured in the midfield, in behind a front two of Oli Johnson and Adam Boyes. The latter got on the scoresheet as Mark Bower’s side reached the dizzy heights of the Conference Premier. There was also a familiar face in the Magpies’ line-up that day, as Mark Ross completed 90 minutes for Chorley.
Captain Nicky Wroe has tasted play-off success in the Blue Square Premier in 2009. The combative midfielder completed 90 minutes for Torquay United as they saw off Cambridge United to seal promotion to League Two.
Defensive lynchpin Gianluca Havern has been a mainstay of Avenue’s side this season and has two sixth-tier promotions on his CV after helping Hyde United and Altrincham achieve top tier status. The injured Nicky Clee also featured as the Robins clinched promotion in 2014.
Shane Killock’s impressive form has made him one of the first names on the team sheet at the Horsfall in recent weeks and he captained AFC Telford United to promotion from the sixth-tier in 2011.
February signing Adam Smith is another name on the list of Avenue players with play-off experience having featured for York City in their play-off semi-final first leg win over Luton Town in 2010.
On-loan defender Rob Atkinson replaced Matt Hill in Avenue’s starting eleven last Saturday following an injury to the veteran full-back and has also achieved a non-league promotion. He was an integral part of the Fleetwood Town side that earned promotion to the Football League in 2012.
John Eustace has one of the most youthful squads in the league at his disposal but he has players that boast experience at the business end. Imposing defender Kennedy Digie played a vital role in helping Stourbridge reach the Norther Premier League Premier Division play-off final last season and fellow defender James O’Connor helped Sean O’Driscoll’s Doncaster Rovers reach the Championship via the League One play-offs in 2008.
THE OPPOSITION GAFFER:
38-year-old Eustace stepped into management with Kidderminster in 2016, a year after hanging up his boots. He plied his trade in the Premier League and Football League during his career, operating as a midfielder after graduating from Coventry City’s academy. The Solihull-born battler recorded 98 appearances for the Sky Blues and won Dundee United’s ‘Young Player of the Year’ award following a loan spell in the 1998-1999 season. He then moved to Stoke City where he spent five years before being snapped up by Watford for a reported £250,000 in 2008. Eustace made 157 appearances for the Hornets before finishing his career with Derby County.
ONE TO WATCH:
The prolific forward was rested during Kidderminster’s defeat to Avenue last Saturday but would be a surprise omission if he didn’t feature in tonight’s game. The 24-year-old progressed through Sheffield United’s academy and made 16 appearances for the first-team before his release in 2015. Having gained non-league experience during loan spells with the likes of FC Halifax Town, Harrogate Town and Alfreton Town, he joined the latter on a permanent deal following his departure from Bramall Lane. He struggled to find his feet at the Impact Arena but rediscovered his goal scoring after joining Nuneaton Town in 2016. After impressing at the LDJ Solicitors Stadium, Ironside sealed a move to the Harriers and has scored on 19 occasions already this season.
Tonight’s play-off elimination round match kicks-off at 7:45pm but if you can’t make it, you can follow all the action on Twitter. Find us at @BPAFCOfficial!