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Match Report


Posted Mon 05 Apr 10 at 16:56 PM

FULL TIME: Harriers 1-1 Rushden

Report by Matt Wall - stats provided and generated for by the Press Association.

Darryl Knights' second half goal was enough to give Harriers a share of the spoils as they drew 1-1 with Rushden & Diamonds at Aggborough on Easter Monday, though their one-point haul could have been three as Chris McPhee saw an injury-time penalty saved.

With both teams effectively starting with 4-3-3 formations, the game was always going to be an attacking one and the evidence of that was clear early on when, with two minutes on the clock, Rushden's Sam Smith raced onto a ball in the area and advanced towards Jasbir Singh, restored between the sticks. It took some good 'keeping from the young stopper to deny the Diamonds man as he dived in low at his feet.

All inside the first ten minutes, Aaron O'Connor should have done better for the visitors when he flashed a volley across the face of goal, whilst at the other end Lee Baker had Harriers' first chance of the day as he hit an angled shot over the bar.

In the 13th minute the home side edged closer - excellent work from Dean Bennett allowed him to put in a fine cross at the by-line; it was somehow latched on to by Brian Smikle who hooked it back virtually along Dale Roberts' goal line, the ball narrowly missing Chris McPhee at the far post.

On 28 minutes Rushden bagged the first goal of the game, almost from nothing as Harriers were caught napping for a mere millisecond - McPhee was robbed of the ball on the edge of the area by Max Porter. Porter needed just two touches; one to set and one to finish as he rifled a fine effort past Singh and into the bottom corner of the net.

Understandably disappointed to only have a deficit to show for such good early work, it took a while for Harriers to respond and once they did six minutes before the break - through Smikle's close-range volley - they were denied by both a save from Roberts, and an offside flag!

The second period was slower to get going than the first but it was a tale of a chance at either end as Harriers stole an equaliser. With 53 minutes on the clock, O'Connor must have thought he'd made it 2-0 with an excellent shot from just inside the area but with Singh beaten, the effort went narrowly over the bar.

Within a minute, Harriers had made them pay - Curtis Osano and Shane Huke stood ball watching as a pass upfield dropped between them and goalkeeper Roberts; credit to Darryl Knights who was alive and alert to the opportunity, nipping in to fire it into the back of the net before the stopper could even get down to it.

With 61 on the clock the hosts needed Singh to be at his best - Cliff Akurang's fine header looked to have goal written all over it before the former Shrewsbury stopper not only got down quickly to keep it out with a reflex save, but also smothering the loose ball to prevent the re-bound.

Seven minutes later, Rushden's Roberts proved he wasn't to be completely beaten in the Save of the Day contest. Great work from Robbie Matthews and Knights saw Smikle played in on goal - the winger took his time before firing an effort towards the 'keeper's top corner, only a fine one-handed parry sending it away from the target.

A little further on Roberts was again alive to Matthews' threat as he came off his line to quickly take in a neat header that looked certain to allow Knights a tap in, whilst Singh's handling again stayed strong for the home side as he cleaned up with sub Jefferson Louis lurking with intent.

As the game entered injury time, McPhee's timely tackle to deny O'Connor on the edge of the area came just before the same player was teed up on the edge of the Rushden area, sliding an effort just wide of the target. As late chances go, Harriers had a golden Easter egg of an opportunity as Roberts brought down Smikle in the area, referee Johnson pointing straight to the spot.

The resultant penalty was not a McPhee classic - driven straight down the centre of goal, all the lucky Roberts had to do was keep his nerve and stay rooted to the spot; he did so, the ball thumping off his knee and away to safety and some sighs of relief from the Rushden bench and crowd.

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