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Match Report

 

Posted Wed 31 Mar 10 at 12:17 PM

FULL TIME: Harriers 1-0 Cambridge

Report by Matt Wall - stats provided and generated for harriers.co.uk by the Press Association.
Pic: Stefan Rapacz

Harriers produced one of their most entertaining displays of the season on Tuesday night to get back to winning ways in the Blue Square Premier with a 1-0 win over in-form Cambridge United.

Once again Harriers began this one at pace; within three minutes they were racing away on the counter and created a great chance - after clearing the ball on the edge of their own area, the ball was played to Darryl Knights who hit a precise one-two with Chris McPhee before firing a shot towards goalkeeper Simon Brown that was well parried.

The home side continued to press well whilst wary of the United counter; on 14 minutes the men in red were going forward again as good play on the edge of the box saw Dean Bennett played in near the 12 yard area - he looked set to take a shot on but was denied at the last by great work from Kevin Roberts who got back for the U's to deny a certain chance.

If that defending from the visitors was solid, their work was less so some three minutes later as Harriers went ahead. A neat ball threaded through to Brian Smikle left the winger free on goal - with everyone in yellow appealing for a flag that never came, the Harriers man was able to take care of business and coolly poke the ball under the body of Brown and into the back of the net.

On 24 minutes it was almost 2-0 as the goal had clearly given the hosts a boost - the lively Darryl Knights surged through Martin Ling's outfit and put on a plate the perfect ball across the face of goal; one man missed his swipe at it but Smikle at the post did not - with his second effort he stretched to poke at it and looked to have forced it over the line as the goalkeeper dived over it, only for the referee to award nothing.

Two post the half hour mark Harriers again went close to adding to their score - the creative Byrne released Duane Courtney who, with Knights, simply teased United on the edge of the area before supplying to Robbie Matthews who saw his central shot held by Brown.

The attacking flow continued five minutes before the break and it was some wonder as to how they didn't find a second - breathtaking play by Knights on a fine counter put Bennett free, unmarked and on goal. The midfield man's touch was good as he rounded the goalkeeper and his driven effort towards the net was only kept out by a terrific lunge at the last by the defending Roberts. The ball quickly re-worked, Brown got back between his sticks to hold Smikle's header.

You sensed the paint at peeled in the away dressing room at half time as evidenced by a double substitution ahead of the re-start, Rory McAuley and ex-Aggborough man Simon Russell coming on to give their side a lift.

Some ten minutes into the second period the latter almost set up an equaliser, his neat angled ball into the box found on loan Scott Neilson who saw his header held by Ross Atkins.

At the other end two minutes later Harriers continued to keep the ball well in attacking areas - fine hold-up play from Matthews allowed him to play Knights in on the centre of the area. He in turn fed Smikle whose close control was great - he fed Knights once more who drove a shot at goal that spun over the bar.

Knights, unplayable, again blazed over the bar with a quarter hour to go, but at the other end four minutes later they were almost made to pay for the score staying 1-0 as Danny Crow ghosted in behind and hit a good header that looked just to have Atkins beaten on its way to thumping the bar.

With eight to go Harriers still tried to surge forward and add to their slender lead - a fine grounded ball rounded the the body of Smikle and into his feet; he struck it more or less first time, the effort flashing across the face of goal and wide.

Rather than nerves and jitters as the game entered injury time, the home side only ever looked like adding to their score, and only more superb work from goalkeeper Brown denied the likes of Knights and sub Lloyd Kerry who had chances at the death.

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