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Match Report


Posted Wed 18 Aug 10 at 22:39 PM

FULL TIME: Harriers 3-4 Southport

Match report by Matt Wall - stats provided and generated by the Press Association

Harriers began their home season with a defeat to Southport on Tuesday night as newly-promoted Southport bagged all three points with a 4-3 victory at Aggborough.

The game kicked off in the perfect setting for Harriers; some late evening sunshine and some fantastic backing by a vocal crowd, especially from a bank massed in the North Stand. If the atmosphere was designed to boost the hosts and but some early fear into the visitors, it worked - after just five minutes the men in red taking the lead in fine style.

Tom Shaw picked out Mark Albrighton with a neat pass out on the left, the former Stevenage man lofting a ball into the six-yard box that was half cleared by Southport, straight to the boot of Michael Briscoe who struck the sweetest volley you'll ever see from a central defender, leaving goalkeeper Tony McMillan with no chance as it sailed passed him.

The response from the visitors was good, however, and within ten minutes they could and perhaps should have been level, Matty McGinn finding space as he drove towards the area before striking a firm, low effort that whizzed past the upright of Daniel Lewis.

There was no ''should'' about their 21st minute efforts, though, without a doubt the Port should have restored parity - their tormentor first was Lewis, getting down well to put a fantastic save to Tony Gray's shot. The ball then fell to skipper Michael Powell who with a virtually open net at his mercy could only spoon on to the bar.

Ten before the break the away side got their rewards for their relative dominance - this time it was Harriers who failed to clear lines properly as the ball fell to Matty McNeil who lashed a superb diagonal volley back across Lewis that flew into the far corner of the net.

Just three minutes after the interval things got worse for the hosts as Southport capitalised on some poor defending to go 2-1 up. A corner kick was nodded back across the face of goal by Chris Lever where McNeil rose highest to nod simply past Lewis.

One of Harriers' smartest moves of the game almost drew them level on 54 minutes, Jack Byrne and Chris McPhee combining to set up Nick Wright who took the ball superbly in his stride before shooting straight at McWilliam, with six Port defenders rushing in to ensure the danger was cleared.

Two shy of the hour Harriers etched out and battled themselves to 2-2; Shaw's tenacity saw the ball played up to Hankin, the winger lofting a beautiful ball over the shoulder of forward Wright who watched it down before rifling an excellent effort on the tightest of angles that cruised home.

From there the game eased and calmed slightly - Steve Burr giving a debut to new signing Marc Williams who replaced Hankin. With a little more than a quarter-hour to go, some questionable defending again reared its ugly head - Lewis left cruelly exposed to deal with Paul Barrett's cross - the goalkeeper managed no more than a punch from under his own bar at full stretch, the ball coming out to, of course, McNeil who rifled in his third of the night from close-range to complete his hat-trick.

But Southport were far from done - from the joy at Briscoe's early strike the night completed the darkest of turnarounds with six minutes to go when the away side netted a fourth. The ball bounced in the area and deflected wickedly between Shaw and Briscoe, referee Hendley somewhere spotting an infringement for which he awarded a penalty that McGinn powered past Lewis.

4-2 became 4-3 as the game went into its final three minutes, substitute Williams bust a gut to get on the end of McPhee's fine cross to head the ball into the back of the net. Moments later there was almost a heart attack for McWilliam as Harriers came close to an equaliser, Wright's far-post header going agonisingly wide of the far post with the goalkeeper beaten.

Even with five minutes of added time it was not to be as it was Southport who were left to celebrate a victory.

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