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Match Report


Posted Sat 09 Apr 11 at 16:51 PM

FULL TIME: Grimsby 3-3 Harriers

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

A wonderful hat-trick from Matty Blair saw Harriers extend their unbeaten run to 14 games at Grimsby on Saturday, a 3-3 draw at Blundell Park as the play-off race continued to heat up.

Harriers were without the services of skipper Keith Briggs as he awaits the arrival of a new child - Tom Shaw and Jack Byrne combined in the middle of the field for this clash and it was that partnership that brought about the first chance of the day with less than 40 seconds on the clock. Shaw's ball was low and driven and was simply watched by the home side - Byrne raced on to it and drove a shot at goalkeeper Kenny Arthur who parried it wide of the post.

With a little over ten minutes on the clock Harriers again went close as they pounced on a lapse in the Grimsby defence - Lee Vaughan's cross was well cleared but nobody was alive to the return ball; except Chris McPhee, the Harriers man spooning an effort goalwards from ten yards or so that beat the goalkeeper but also his bar.

On 20 minutes a driven free-kick by Michael Briscoe caused all sorts of problems on its way into the the area; after Chris McPhee and Sean Canham both took a stab at it with Grimsby failing to clear, the ball fell to Nick Wright who forced it over from close range - Harriers turning up the pressure.

Just four minutes later and perhaps against the run of play, the visitors were made to pay for not taking some of those half chances when, out of the blue and almost with little danger, Mark Hudson picked up on Lee Peacock's knock-down with a tremendous left-footed volley that looked to be heading over, only to dip drastically at the last over Daniel Lewis and into the back of the net.

Despite the 1-0 score line Harriers remained the only team in the game in an attacking sense and in terms of territory, such was the pressure being applied by the men in red. Pressure doesn't get you wins though - only goals will do that so it's just as well Steve Burr's men turned chances into goals on 32 minutes. Matty Blair whipped in a corner which was recycled back into the box by Mark Albrighton, his header being cleared straight into the path of Blair who lashed the ball back where he'd sent it, across Arthur and into the back of his net.

It took 42 minutes for Grimsby to force their first corner of the day and with it the first save from Lewis - it was needed, though, and an excellent one as the goalkeeper threw his hands up to block a great shot from Michael Coulson, and getting straight back up to hold Scott Garner's follow-up.

1-1 would, in fairness, have been an unfair reflection of Harriers' performance inside the first half so it was to the delight of the away fans when they completed the turnaround by taking the lead with 44 on the clock; fantastic work from Wright saw the Grimsby defence stretched to the max - it left Vaughan and Blair all on their lonesome to do the damage as the two former AFC Telford men combined with defender crossing for winger who, unmarked, forced the ball home.

The second period began with a chance for the hosts as a Bryan Hughes corner was met by Peacock in the area, Lewis doing well to get behind the effort and hold on, and once more with a snatched effort from Hudson with 48 gone.

With 56 on the clock Harriers fell behind again and once more, as with Hudson's effort, very little looked to be on as Peacock headed the ball down around 18 yards from goal - Harriers' only crime was in allowing the ball to bounce; that was all Alan Connell needed as he turned in the area and swung a sensational overhead boot at it, the ball flying into the top corner with Lewis helpless.

On the hour mark this topsy-turvy game almost moved straight back into Harriers' favour as they drew a top drawer save from Arthur; Blair's excellent cross finding Michael Briscoe who chucked everything at it, only to be denied by the stopper.

That would be a massive moment in the game as Grimsby, on the counter attack, pressed forward with real numbers and looked purposeful for the first time - they had the away side out-manned and those that were back for the reds were unable to stop the movement of Peacock in the area as the vastly experienced front-man rose to nod a header past Lewis and inside the near post to put his side 3-2 up, the home fans in sheer heaven.

Harriers had a linesman's flag to thank for the score staying at 3-2 when, on 72 minutes, Leary finished beautifully inside the area only for the effort to be chalked out as this frantic game took another twist, Connell smashing one over six minutes later as the home side turned the screw.

The only way the team would find themselves back level on this one would be to take a few risks and Harriers certainly did that - when, on 82 minutes, Wright worked his way into the area and blasted a shot just wide, you sensed it may just be the lift they needed and it proved to be so as, just a moment later, it was 3-3! Simply sensational yet again from the never-say-die Harriers as Blair pounced on a loose ball inside the area, narrowing the angle before smashing it past Arthur to complete his wonderful hat-trick.

It was unthinkable just minutes previously but with just two minutes of normal time remaining Harriers nearly grabbed a fourth - Vaughan's chipped ball into the area found sub Jamille Matt whose attempt to turn and shoot was well blocked off.

Mecca Bingo

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