OF all the places Jay Harris would have chosen to spend his Bank Holiday Monday, Accrington Stanley’s Fraser Eagle Stadium would not have been high on his list of destinations.
Harris made the return to his former employers just days after he and four other players, including Chester team-mate David Mannix, were charged by the FA for allegedly betting on Accrington to lose while registered with the Lancashire club last year.
But with the threat of a lengthy ban hanging over him and in the face of a home crowd quick to vent their anger, the pint-sized midfielder produced an outstanding individual performance.
Every touch Harris made was met by jeers from the Stanley faithful, who also gave a mixed reception to their captain Peter Cavanagh and Robbie Williams, the two players named in the betting scandal who are still on Accrington’s books.
But the boos seemed to inspire Harris, who turned 22 yesterday.
From the bone-crunching early tackle that set the tone for what was a fully-committed City showing, Harris, ably supported by Anthony Barry and James Owen on his first senior start, covered every blade of grass and won huge praise from Mark Wright.
“Jay came in for a lot of stick and criticism, but I thought he put in a first-class performance,” said Blues boss Wright. “He’s a spunky little rat who is very good at chasing people down and, for someone of his size, wins a lot of headers.”