Report - Matt Wall
Stats - Provided and generated by the Press Association
Photo - Stefan Rapacz
A killer goal just minutes from time prevented Harriers from picking up a precious win on Saturday as they were held at Aggborough to a 2-2 draw by Ebbsfleet United.
Harriers made a hugely enthusiastic start to this one and inside the opening ten minutes they'd had a raft of chances to have taken the lead; first with just three on the clock Kyle Storer stung the hands of goalkeeper Preston Edwards with a free-kick after Alex Stavrinou had been booked for hauling down Scott Phelan on the edge of the area.
Phelan himself a few minutes later tried his luck with a 30-yard drive that fizzed past the post but perhaps the best of those early openings fell to Nick Wright. Released one-on-one with Edwards on the angle he charged into the area with gusto but found two attempts thwarted by some fantastic late blocking from the United custodian.
Harriers clearly had the bit between their teeth, though, and finally made their pressure tell with the opening goal of the day with just eleven minutes on the clock; Lee Vaughan's deep cross towards the far post was both searching and dangerous - it found the head of Luke Jones who rose highest of all to plant an excellent effort into the back of the net to beat a helpless Edwards for his second goal of the campaign.
That understandably relaxed most of Aggborough and allowed Harriers to remain calm in possession and measured in defence - in fact the only breach of that back line in the early stages came from a rare slip from the hosts themselves on 25 minutes, Tom Marshall caught out momentarily as Callum Willock looked to race through; the Ebbsfleet hit-man unable to force a way past goalkeeper Daniel Lewis, though, who saved and then cleared the danger.
The pace and trickery of Wright was a threat for the visitors and one they weren't looking confident of handling - just after the half-hour mark the former Tamworth man was released out of the blocks one more and set free up against the last defender and goalkeeper - in stripping the former for pace he inadvertently narrowed the angle on goal and in the end couldn't direct his eventual effort close enough to a sprawling Edwards, firing it just wide of the upright.
Six minutes later with 38 on the clock Ebbsfleet drew themselves level with a goal seemingly out of nothing and certainly with their first real effort of the game; Liam Enver-Marum picked up the ball just inside the Harriers half and charged towards Lewis with Willock and Stavrinou providing the options - he ignored them both, though, and took aim with a fantastic effort that curled past the goalkeeper and into the back of the net.
Harriers looked a real danger from set-plays against what remains a weakened United defence and in Callum Gittings' delivery they have an asset - in first-half stoppage time he curled another corner into the six-yard area that found the head of Wright who nodded an effort just over the bar.
The second half was barely a couple of minutes old when Harriers had a fine opening to re-take the lead; Ebbsfleet exposed again with a deep cross towards the far post that headed straight towards Steve Guinan. Being leaned into, the front man could only stretch to meet it but still got good contact, the ball firing just wide.
Just like in the first period, though, there was one moment of madness that threatened to cost the home side and it arrived on 50 minutes; the defence caught out playing the ball neatly along the back-four as one touch proved a little too heavy and Willock was on hand to pounce, he wriggled free of all attentions and shot at Lewis who again produced an excellent stop, diving low to keep out the danger.
Six after the hour mark Harriers started to surge forward again both on and off the pitch - Scott Phelan trying his luck again from distance after being teed up by Wright, before Wright himself fizzed one just past the near post after working space in the area. On the sidelines there was action as Steve Burr threw on Jamille Matt.
Vaughan and Phelan both tried distance efforts again as 60 minutes turned to 70, Harriers seemingly frustrated at being unable to break down a Fleet side now deliriously happy with a point. One moment of quality changed that though and with 74 minutes it came from Wright, turning sharply on the ball six yards out before slamming it in the far corner where Edwards was never going to reach it.
Just when it seemed that concentration would key for Harriers and the only thing between them and three precious points, the hammer blow came; hesitant defending giving United a corner that was lofted into the box and played out to the onrushing John Herd who blasted a low drive past Lewis and into the bottom corner.
Four minutes of injury time almost saw the home side snatch it but with bodies lining up to strike a winner, all conspired to miss it as the ball went wide.