Report by Matt Wall - stats provided and generated for harriers.co.uk by the Press Association. Photo by Stefan Rapacz.
A penalty from Chris McPhee was enough to settle a scrappy game at Aggborough on Tuesday night as Harriers downed Rushden & Diamonds 1-0 to move within three points of the Blue Square Bet Premier play-off places.
Inside a minute there was an opportunity for Harriers to hit quickly and register an early chance - Keith Briggs, on his return to the side, firing just wide of the upright of the goal being guarded by Joe Day. A couple of minutes later a decent start continued as Lee Morris hooked just wide from a Dave Hankin corner.
With seven on the clock it was the Diamonds who took a chance to test the home defence - Aaron O'Connor, full of pace, was allowed to run down on goal, relatively unchallenged, before firing a firm shot towards goal that Daniel Lewis held well.
There was some real danger for Harriers just three minutes later as O'Connor and Tim Sills were allowed to play a neat one-two on the edge of the area before being denied by a last-ditch covering tackle, a re-bound being stabbed wide.
On the quarter-hour mark, some real probing got Harriers their breakthrough - a short-corner was re-worked to Hankin on the edge of the area, he beat Michael Corcoran with a quick step and found himself flattened; stone-walled penalty and cue for the ever-cool Chris McPhee to power home his seventh of the season.
The hosts then seemed to relax and almost instantly they were made to pay for it - Sills smashing just over the bar after being left all alone once again, Rene Howe later stinging the hands of Lewis with a shot from 18 yards.
Without a doubt it was the Nene Park outfit who finished the first period the strongest - the goal serving to liven them up a little rather than surge Harriers on to even better things; Howe was continually a threat out wide, managing to cut the ball back and drill it across the face of goal, only a final touch missing.
Just as Harriers forced a chance inside a minute of the first period, so Rushden did exactly the same after the interval - comfortable on the break, a shot from Lewwis Spence looping up off Tom Sharpe and over the head of Lewis, thumping off the bar.
It took the hosts eleven minutes to get in on the second half act - Marc Williams was hauled down on the edge of the area by Max Porter; Michael Briscoe seeing his resultant fuzzing drive deflected away to safety. The same player, two minutes later, rose high in the box and powered a header just over the target.
Eight after the hour the lively Matty Blair combined with sub Nick Wright to cause some problems, the former driving a firm, curling ball across the face of goal that keeper got down well to to keep out bravely.
The game became scrappier as it entered its final quarter-hour - Briggs' attempted volley seemed opportunistic more than anything as it sailed some way wide of the target.
The nerves only increased around the home ends of Aggborough inside the final stages with no second goal for them forthcoming; Rushden's 115 fans were almost sent into raptures with just a minute to go as Craig Farrell latched onto the ball and narrowly fired wide.