A sensational second-half hat-trick from Ryan Rowe saw Harriers pick up their first win of the season and stretch their unbeaten run to six games with a 3-1 win at Cambridge on Tuesday night.
With nine minutes on the clock the first real chance of the night came the way of United; experienced front-man driving a shot at goal after the U’s sneaked into a gap in the visiting defence –Josh Gowling was on hand to clear any immediate danger, though, and the follow-up from Liam Hughes was comfortably over the target.
That was arguably the sum total of the first half an hour as Callum Gittings and Mickey Demetriou both struck off target with half chances for the visitors.
The first major incident of the night came on 32 minutes as the U’s were reduced to ten men; Luke Berry’s rash challenge on James Vincent was late rather than dangerous but it warranted a second yellow card in just a couple of minutes as he was sent for an early shower.
That seemed to give Harriers an impetus and soon after they should really have got themselves ahead; Keith Briggs forced Jonathan Hedge into two, strong low saves at his near-post and Anthony Malbon failing to make a connection when well placed to meet Lee Vaughan’s deep cross.
The reds got off to the worst possible start to the second period when, after weathering a spell of early pressure, they forced a corner up at the other end thanks to the industry of Michael Gash; the delivery whipped in to the near post where Josh Coulson made no mistake.
The response from Harriers was good, however, and come the hour mark they levelled things up – sub Ryan Rowe picking up on a great ball from Gittings before beating his man and curling the ball into the top corner for his first goal of the season.
That was swiftly to be followed by a second for Harriers and for Rowe less than ten minutes later. You thought he might be looking for a cross as he picked up the ball near the by-line but the hit-man was having none of it as he took a fine touch before steering into the far corner of the net with the home defence stood watching.
That silenced the U’s crowd and, for a good time, their players as well though as both managers made changes you sensed it would never be anything other than a tense finish and sure enough that is what followed.
Gash wasted a free kick for his side with eight minutes left to play but the final say was always likely to be Rowe’s and in the dying minutes he made sure he’d be keeping the match ball as he smashed in his third of the half in off the underside of the bar to the delight of 66 chilly but overjoyed travelling fans.