Report - Matt Wall
Pics - Stefan Rapacz
Stats - The Press Association
A late surge at Rushden was not enough to give Harriers a share of the spoils at Nene Park on Monday as they fell down to a 2-1 Blue Square Premier defeat.
Inside a minute there was a chance for Rushden's Lee Tomlin as the hosts began quickly - Dean Coleman was quick to get down to his 20 yard effort, though, and held it well. Three minutes later, Coleman's save was matched by his counterpart Dale Roberts who kept out a shot from Aaron Farrell.
The quarter hour mark saw the deadlock broken as Rushden were gift-wrapped the opener - a long ball over the top saw Tomlin in a one-on-one chase with Coleman. The goalkeeper looked to have claimed the ball just outside of his area, and in stretching to bring it back into his box, dropped it straight to the feet of the midfielder who slotted into the empty net. Officials consulted over just what they'd seen but in the end the goal was given.
With 21 minutes gone Harriers charged forward on their first real break of the afternoon - at the point of it was full-back Danny Andrew, but the youngster's angled effort was some way shy of troubling Roberts.
Six minutes later Rushden almost made it 2-0 - Craig Farrell beat Gavin Caines to get a one-on-one with Coleman; he drove an effort on the angle towards the Harriers goal but the stopper did well to save once more.
Harriers stayed positive and Duane Courtney had a 37th minute effort from distance but again it was a visiting effort lacking in accuracy as it curled some way wide of Roberts' target. In first half stoppage time, a great ball in from Andrew almost found Robbie Matthews on the angle, the front man just missing it at full stretch.
Brian Smikle in action at Rushden today...
Damian Spencer was throw on after the break and immediately set about causing Rushden some problems - within five minutes of the re-start it was a chance apiece as Tomlin hit wide for the hosts - Dean Bennett doing so for Harriers.
Three minutes before the hour mark a rough day got even worse for Harriers as a moment of real class made it 2-0 - they failed to clear their lines after losing possession and when the ball came to star man Tomlin, you knew what was about to happen - after taking a delightful first touch to set himself, he crashed a half volley from distance that Coleman had no chance of getting as it flew into his top corner.
It was always going to take a moment of fortune for Harriers' luck to change and on 68 minutes it did as they pulled a goal back; fine work from Riley on the edge of the area saw the ball poked through to Matthews who drilled it towards Roberts who was beaten at his near post.
A quality cross three minutes later from McPhee almost put an equaliser on a plate for Spencer but the diving Roberts got there first to tip it over the bar as the hosts started to show a few nerves.
They continued to frighted with corners and some quality deliveries, and ten minutes from time it was almost 2-2, a great move saw Spencer and Smikle hit a neat one-two, the latter squaring the box as Bennett eventually hit a shot towards goal that Roberts only gathered at the second attempt.