Ward slams sloppy Kidsgrove after home defeat
KIDSGROVE Athletic manager Peter Ward slammed his side's first-half performance following their 2-1 defeat to play-off rivals Sutton Coldfield Town.
After going 2-0 down early in the second half, third-placed Grove improved and scored late on through Wayne Johnson to set up a frantic finish.
Ward remains upbeat about his side's play-off hopes, but insists they will have to do it the hard way after seeing the chasing pack close to within three points.
"We can't keep giving sides two-goal starts, which is what we've done recently," he said.
"The first half completely passed us by, but after we conceded the penalty early in the second half we had enough possession without hurting them.
"After we scored I thought we could get something out of the game, but we need to start better in our last three matches."
Sutton Coldfield could have led inside three minutes as Mark Bellingham's drive was blocked by Johnson.
They continued to make all the early running and Stuart McNaught's volley from 18 yards stung the palms of Grove keeper Steve Hodgson.
On 13 minutes, Town took the lead when Bellingham laid the ball off for Jonathan Jones to fire home from just inside the box.
Kidsgrove almost drew level 60 seconds later as Dave Walker raced on to Matt Haddrell's ball over the top, but fired his effort wide.
Sutton almost doubled their lead on 17 minutes, but Bellingham's long-range drive took a wicked deflection off Danny Smith and looped over the crossbar.
Hodgson again had to be at his best six minutes before the break to tip over Craig Milligan's powerful shot from 20 yards.
A minute into the second half, Kidsgrove conceded a penalty after Craig Marshall was brought down in the box by Smith.
Marshall picked himself up to dispatch the spot-kick straight down the middle.
Walker wasted another half-chance for Grove on 53 minutes when he sent a half-volley over the bar from the edge of the area.
Sutton Coldfield were reduced to 10 men just past the hour mark as Milligan was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Craig Dove.
They could have made sure of the points with six minutes left as Harry Harris broke clear down the left, but sent a weak shot straight at Hodgson.
Kidsgrove were handed a lifeline a minute later after Walker flicked on for Johnson (pictured)to sidefoot a cool finish in off the far post.
Aiden Matranga could have snatched a point soon after, but his weak shot was easily gathered by Karl Lewis.
Lewis ensured his side left with all three points in stoppage time, as Tom Urwin's long-range drive cannoned off the post and deflected off his face for a corner.
Kidsgrove Athletic: Hodgson, Smith, Dove (Beasley, 78), Ward, Johnson, Hall, Matranga, Sanders, Walker, Haddrell (Shotton, 43), Bridge (Urwin, 45). Subs not used: Morris, Schwarz.