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Kidderminster Harriers, the lowest-ranked side left in the FA Cup, produced another memorable upset to knock out Championship side Reading.

“Days like this will never leave the players’ memories,” said boss Russ Penn after sixth-tier Harriers beat a side 79 places above them in the pyramid.

George Puscas put Reading ahead on the stoke of half-time at Aggborough.

But keeper Rafael Cabral’s error handed Sam Austin an equaliser before Amari Morgan-Smith netted from close range.

Again it was a nightmare for Reading keeper Cabral, whose attempt to meet Ashley Hemmings’ right-wing corner saw him tangle with Morgan-Smith with both players and the ball ending up over the line.

Kidderminster may have been fortunate to get away with a potential foul on the keeper, but Harriers, now a National League North side, were worthy winners – especially after having to see out 12 minutes of injury time.

“I’m stuck for words,” said Penn. “I’m so proud of the players and the football club.

“At half-time we said it’s about staying in the game. Then, when we got the equaliser it felt like there was only going to be one winner.”

Always a day to remember for Kiddy on 8 January

Saturday 8 January is always a day to treasure for Harriers fans of a certain age.

It was that day, back in 1994, when they produced their biggest cup upset, beating Birmingham City at St Andrew’s on third round day on their march to the last 16.

But this one was also a personal moment to treasure for Morgan-Smith, the only survivor of the team that reached the third round eight years ago, beating Peterborough in a replay before losing to Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.

The current side have not lost in eight league games since defeat at home to Brackley on 8 October. And, although they had not played in three weeks because of Covid cancellations, there was no sign of any ring rust.

George Puscas put Reading ahead at Aggborough on the stoke of half-time
George Puscas put Reading ahead at Aggborough on the stoke of half-time

Even when Reading took the lead on the stroke of half-time, when Tom Dele-Bashiru sent a ball over the top into the path of Puscas, they carried on pressing all the buttons.

Reading, 21st in the Championship, made eight changes from the side which shipped a 2-0 lead to be held 2-2 at home by Derby in the Championship on Monday.

That included bringing in a former Premier League title winner in Danny Drinkwater in midfield. But the Royals, who had won just twice in their previous 11 league games, still showed the same failure to hang onto a lead.

Former Leicester City and Chelsea man Drinkwater lasted only until the 58th minute, when he was replaced by Andy Rinomhota. But, having already lost Alen Halilovic just before the break, Reading were really disrupted when Felipe Araruna, having also just come on, dislocated his knee and himself had to be replaced by Michael Stickland.

Having so many times gone close, Harriers finally levelled on 69 minutes when wing-back Alex Penny’s right-wing cross was headed down by Caleb Richards, Austin shot from 15 yards, Brazilian keeper Cabral fumbled and the ball squirmed over the line at his a near post.

Then came Morgan-Smith’s dubious close-range winner – another Aggborough party started and the Worcestershire sauce flowed.

Kidderminster Harriers boss Russ Penn:

“I’m a Wolves fan but I never played there. So, selfishly, I’d love to play there but they’ve got a tough game [at home to Sheffield United on Sunday].

“Wolves, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea – it’s mad to even be talking about these clubs.

“We know it’s a one-off, up against a Championship side and we’ve exceeded expectations. We want to be a league club again.

“That’s our overall objective but we’ve got plenty of heart. We had our objectives for this season and this was one of them.”

Reading boss Veljko Paunovic told BBC Radio Berkshire:

“A horrible night. A horrible second half for many reasons. Kidderminster are a tough, organised team but nothing was unexpected.

“The FA Cup is very lovely and very interesting but the priority is the Championship. We can’t afford to lose more players and we did.

“Alen Halilovic is not a long term injury. But it was a terrible injury for Felipe Araruna. To see someone with a knee dislocated is a terrible sight and it impacted on our youngsters.

“We are devastated with injuries and fitness levels but definitely what happened in the second half must be fixed.”

Line-ups

Kidderminster

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1SimpsonBooked at 90mins
  • 2Penny
  • 4Cameron
  • 16Bajrami
  • 3Richards
  • 15MartinSubstituted forMontroseat 90+4′minutes
  • 8Carrington
  • 10Hemmings
  • 7Austin
  • 11Sterling-JamesSubstituted forWhiteat 90+13′minutes
  • 9Morgan-SmithSubstituted forFreemantleat 84′minutes

Substitutes

  • 5Lowe
  • 6Montrose
  • 12Foulkes
  • 17Freemantle
  • 19White
  • 21Emery
  • 22Tolley
  • 25Bastable

Reading

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 33Cabral BarbosaBooked at 82mins
  • 16TetekSubstituted forAraruna Hoffmannat 59′minutesSubstituted forSticklandat 64′minutes
  • 3HolmesBooked at 39minsSubstituted forLaurentat 45′minutes
  • 51Holzman
  • 41Bristow
  • 15DrinkwaterSubstituted forRinomhotaat 58′minutesBooked at 74mins
  • 36Osorio
  • 32CamaraBooked at 52mins
  • 19Dele-Bashiru
  • 7HalilovicSubstituted forAzeezat 40′minutes
  • 47Puscas

Substitutes

  • 8Rinomhota
  • 20Araruna Hoffmann
  • 22Southwood
  • 28Laurent
  • 30Azeez
  • 38Stickland
  • 39Clarke
  • 46Senga-Ngoyi

Referee:
Gavin Ward

Attendance:
5,178

Match Stats

Live Text

  1. Match ends, Kidderminster Harriers 2, Reading 1.

  2. Second Half ends, Kidderminster Harriers 2, Reading 1.

  3. Nathan Cameron (Kidderminster Harriers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  4. Foul by Femi Azeez (Reading).

  5. Substitution, Kidderminster Harriers. Jaiden White replaces Omari Sterling-James.

  6. Nathan Cameron (Kidderminster Harriers) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  7. Foul by Femi Azeez (Reading).

  8. Luke Simpson (Kidderminster Harriers) is shown the yellow card.

  9. Mark Carrington (Kidderminster Harriers) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  10. Foul by Claudio Osorio (Reading).

  11. Substitution, Kidderminster Harriers. Lewis Montrose replaces Keziah Martin.

  12. Foul by Ethan Freemantle (Kidderminster Harriers).

  13. Michael Stickland (Reading) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  14. Substitution, Kidderminster Harriers. Ethan Freemantle replaces Amari Morgan-Smith.

  15. Rafael Cabral (Reading) is shown the yellow card.

  16. Goal! Kidderminster Harriers 2, Reading 1. Amari Morgan-Smith (Kidderminster Harriers) right footed shot from very close range to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Ashley Hemmings with a cross.

  17. Corner, Kidderminster Harriers. Conceded by Rafael Cabral.

  18. Attempt blocked. Sam Austin (Kidderminster Harriers) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

  19. Corner, Kidderminster Harriers. Conceded by Mamadi Camara.

  20. Attempt blocked. Amari Morgan-Smith (Kidderminster Harriers) right footed shot from long range on the left is blocked.

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