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Match Report


Posted Tue 22 Feb 11 at 21:37 PM

FULL TIME: Darlington 1-1 Harriers

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

Harriers held on for a point in the north east at Darlington on Tuesday night as Keith Briggs' goal helped them to a 1-1 draw; only time will tell just how valuable the point will be.

After the kick-off there were just two minutes for fans to wait for some serious action in this one - the home side, in good form on their own patch, worked out what had to go down even at such an early stage as a tremendous chance; Curtis Main picking out Gary Smith inside the area who drove a firm shot just inches wide of Danny Lewis' post when it looked set for the bottom corner of the net.

Ten minutes later Sam Russell up at the other end was making his first save of the night as a Nick Wright shot was sent into his grasp. On 14 minutes, though, Russell was getting nowhere near what was a rocket in red as Harriers netted the opening goal of the game; makeshift full-back Tom Sharpe and bombed on superbly in space and worked the ball back towards the edge of the Darlo area, the visitors wasting a couple of chances to strike before skipper Keith Briggs got on the end of it and rifled a truly spectacular effort from around 18 yards that sailed past Russell and found the top corner.

Harriers then relaxed a little and were able to move the ball around quite comfortably; Darlington didn't trouble them for a period but some three minutes before the half-hour mark they certainly did - a good counter saw Main watch the ball down in the area before shooting on the angle at Lewis and drawing a super one-handed stop from the custodian.

It was truly end to end stuff, and was entertaining at that as Wright came close to exposing the Darlo back-line at one end before Main once again forced Lewis into a save with 34 minutes gone. Indeed for the remainder of the half it was backs to the wall stuff as Mark Cooper's men piled on the pressure but without creating too many concrete opportunities; the best perhaps coming when the pacy Aaron Brown got the ball into the area and forced Michael Briscoe into a great block to clear the danger.

Half time came at a good moment for the reds as they struggled a little to handle their opponents but within just a couple of minutes of the re-start they could have doubled their lead; Briggs hit one wide, Canham did so to before the loan man planted a free header right at Russell when perhaps placed to have done much better.

With 52 minutes on the clock Harriers went within a lick of paint of making it 2-0 - it was a superb counter-attack as Blair was released out wide, holding the ball up excellently before supplying the perfect ball into the area and straight on to the head of Jack Byrne who burst on to it with a great header that beat the goalkeeper and thumped off the bar.

Just as is the way with football, Harriers would be made to pay for not taking one of those chances when, ten minutes later, Darlington drew level with their first effort on target of the whole night - one Smith setting up another as Gary crossed towards Michael who flicked a deft header up and over Lewis and into the back of the net.

The second half was delayed substantially by nasty injuries to Briggs and Byrne though typically none drew any sympathy from the home crowd - or the referee for that matter who only chose to book the former.

Inside the final ten minutes and with their fans - finally - behind them, Darlington must have thought they'd done enough to make it 2-1 when Marc Bridge-Wilkinson curled one goalwards from 20 yards but they hadn't made allowances for Lewis who, as last line of defence, threw a palm at it and turned it away from danger.

Five minutes later, Lewis was at it again - sub Tommy Wright got up well to meet a ball into the box and his header was a good one that Lewis managed to meet with an equally good stop to deny him. As we entered into injury time, Byrne saw red for seemingly being able to unavoid colliding with Gary Smith; the referee judging it as violent conduct as the midfielder got his second straight red of the season, cue at least a four-game ban for the harshly-done by former Redditch man.

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