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Match Report


Posted Sat 02 Apr 11 at 19:55 PM

FULL TIME: Harriers 3-3 Luton

Report by Matt Wall - stats provided and generated for by the Press Association.
Photos: Stefan Rapacz

Aggborough witnessed a true classic on Saturday as goals rained aplenty late on, Mike Williams' first-ever Harriers goal helping his side to a dramatic 3-3 draw with Luton Town.

The visitors made by far the better start to the encounter and it took seven minutes before Harriers even managed to take he ball into their area; the hosts all too often wasteful in possession and giving Luton the chance to build crucial confidence.

There looked to be a moment of controversy just a few minutes later as Freddy Murray looked to have fouled Nick Wright in the area as Wright looked to meet Matty Blair's ball; the appeals were ignored by Murray's guilt was evident in that he injured himself in doing so, needing to come off after just 15 minutes.

He was replaced by the ever-lively Claude Gnapka and on 22 minutes it was the substitute who took a pop at goal, lining one up on the edge of the area and curling the ball wide of Danny Lewis' upright.

Just a minute later the game burst into life and it did so through Matty Blair as he charged at the Luton defence inside the area. He looked to be heading away from goal rather than towards the target so the decision from George Pilkington to bring him down was needless - punished as the referee pointed to the spot, and Chris McPhee stepped up to slam the ball past Mark Tyler to open the scoring for the men in red (pictured).

As the clocked ticked over to the half-hour mark it was the home fans who were making the noise but the visitors who were working towards goal - Danny Crow lined one up from 20 yards and drilled one at Lewis that might well have beaten him had it not sailed narrowly wide of the bar.

Seven minutes further along, Mike Williams was supplying the ammo out wide as he delivered towards the far post and found Blair who directed a header back across goal but wide of the target. With just two minutes to go until the interval Harriers had a super chance to make it 2-0 as Callum Gittings drifted in a corner that was met in the area by the unmarked Sean Canham, his header going mere inches wide of the post with Tyler beaten.

With the second half barely a couple of minutes old there was a hearts-in-mouths moment as Gnapka went down in the area under the challenge of Mark Albrighton, the referee waving away those appeals much to the annoyance of the away following.

On 52 minutes momentum was clearly with the Hatters - they worked out perhaps the best chance of the day to that point for them as sub Jason Walker crossed for Alex Lawless who swept the ball towards goal, the effort going mighty, mighty close.

Just four before the hour the pressure finally told as Luton got themselves level. Winning a free-kick on the edge of the area, the visitors were always going to afford Robbie Willmott an effort on goal and so they should have; a beauty of an effort from the former Cambridge man as he lifted the ball from 30 yards around the wall and past Lewis and into the back of the net.

Harriers were desperate to take some of the pressure off as Town looked to press for the goal that would put them ahead - Steve Burr's men managed it on 66 minutes as they worked a decent opportunity, Lee Vaughan on the end of it as he forced a save from Tyler; McPhee doing likewise after as he met a Gittings corner with a header.

The Hatters went straight back up at the other end and through the inspirational Willmott they almost made it 2-1; he tried his luck from some 40 yards and almost caught out Lewis who did well to pedal backwards and tip the ball over the bar.

With a little over a quarter-hour left, Harriers replaced Callum Gittings with Lee Morris as he looked to tighten things up in the final third. But, as it was, it was actually at the back Harriers were found wanting - and there aren't too many times you can say that. Defensively they switched off completely as Gnapka made the run on the angle, defenders just about getting back in time to watch him cut inside and blast a superb finish past Lewis and home to the delight of all in navy, white and orange.

Just when you sensed the away side would get the chance to see out their win with ease, that never-say-die attitude of Harriers' season so far reared its head once again - Vaughan's deep ball to the far post was met by a great header from Keith Briggs, back across to the middle of goal where that man Morris was on hand to dive on to it and send it into the back of the net. Aggborough back into raptures.

Unfortunately for Harriers, things switched straight back into Luton's favour - there was a lenghty delay as Crowe was taken off injured, and once more the home side switched off. They were out-numbered by the counter-attack as Gnapka and Walker combined, the ball rolling to the latter who swept a beautiful finish past Lewis and into the bottom corner of the net - a day of superb goals, real quality.

Luton's to win now? No..No, as we said; never-say-die and all that!! Luton's fans were busy celebrating their 3-2 win when Harriers decided they'd go and score again. The ball was worked into the area and to the feet of substitute Jamille Matt - what a delicious, deft flick of the boot it was, he made it look oh-so-simple as he played in Mike Williams who smashed home his first ever club goal - what a time to do it.

THREE ALL. As we say...never say die! Harriers out of the play-offs, yes. But by goal difference only and with a game in hand...

Mecca Bingo

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