Carver 18; Roscoe 90+2
- Play-off heartbreak for Harriers
- Chroley go through 2-1 on aggregate
- First leg advantage not enough
- Season ends with defeat
HARRIERS suffered play-off heartbreak at Aggborough as they were beaten 2-0 by Chorley, an aggregate defeat of 2-1 enough to dump the reds out of the play-offs.
The visitors wiped out Harriers’ first-leg advantage with a goal from Marcus Carver inside 20 minutes, striking the bar with a free-kick just after as they threatened to storm into a lead.
Harriers were far brighter at the break and hit the woodwork and had an effort hooked off the line, but in the end their play-off dreams were smashed by a late, late goal from the Magpies as sub Roscoe slotted home in front of his own supporters.
Under some fantastic sunshine and in front of a great crowd, it look a little while for the two teams to settle into any stride whatsoever.
Tyrell Waite had the first sight of goal of any note when he nipped through on goal and swiped a shot just past the far post.
Chorley broke the deadlock in typically direct fashion, and the quick-thinking Carver was the man of the moment for the visiting fans as he narrowly beat Hornby a ball forward, getting his toe to a shot that trickled into the net.
Those away fans were almost in raptures when, two minutes later, Adam Blakeman crashed a free kick off the underside of the bar before Harriers could clear.
With Harriers stifled well by the visitors, the Magpies were able to pick the odd spot on the counter attack and had further half chances either side of the half-hour mark as Carver lofted one effort just over the bar, while skipper Teague did similar.
Three after the interval Harriers had the ball in the net as Brown followed up smartly on Gnahoua’s shot to beat Branagan, only for the attempt to be ruled out for offside.
As we edged closer to the hour, Harriers had what was probably their best spell on the ball to that point and with it came a good chance; the industrious Brown breaking into the area on the angle, driving over the bar with Branagan grasping at it.
Just after, Waite’s fine header from McQuilkin’s free-kick also went close, but then it was McQuilkin causing trouble on 71 minutes when, with space opening up in front of him, he let fly from distance and crashed an effort on to the ball with the aid of a Branagan fingertip. Croasdale then had an effort off the line from the corner that followed.
With a tense, tense end to the initial 90 minutes, despite the award of eight minutes’ added time there looked to be an inevitability of extra time before Chorley stole ahead with a rare second half chance; again a ball forward catching Harriers unawares, sub Roscoe on hand to rifle it past Hornby.
JOHN EUSTACE is keen for Harriers fans to pack Aggborough for the play-off semi-final, second leg against Chorley on Sunday with his team 1-0 up on aggregate (3pm ko).
A resilient, battling performance at Victory Park in the first leg earned Harriers their slim single-goal advantage.
It’s not much breathing space; Eustace said the lead “means nothing” going into Sunday’s show-down that sees Matt Jansen’s men make the return trip.
With that in mind, Harriers will need whatever advantage they can muster on the day and that’s why the boss has urged fans to come out in their numbers.
Around 400 made the trip to Chorley for the return leg and more than 1,500 tickets have been sold in advance to Harriers fans prior to Sunday.
Eustace commented: “We go again on Sunday and we’re expecting a very, very tough game.
“I’d love a big crowd on the day.
“If we could get a few thousand in that would be fantastic.
“It’s vital that the supporters back us and follow us, as they have done all season.
“It would be great if we could get a thousand or two [on top of] the gate we usually get.
“Please come out and support us – the lads really appreciate it, and we’ll see where we go.”
Harriers were forced to do without Elton Ngwatala for the first leg at Chorley through injury.
It remains to be seen whether he’ll be available for what could be the season’s final match, while Josh Ezewele remains out of action.
Supporters are advised that the semi-final will be settled on the day, with extra time and penalties to be used if necessary.
At the time of writing, only a handful of online home Main Stand tickets remain, while the East Stand has also been busy with pre-sales.
We would please ask any supporters using these two stands to please be respectful of seats reserved for Season Ticket holders.
Kick-off at Aggborough on Sunday is at 3:00pm
Tickets not currently available.