| Report: Matt Wall | Stats & line-up: PA | Gallery: www.mphotographic.co.uk |
Harriers' long unbeaten run came to an end at Stockport on Saturday with one first-half penalty enough to settle the tie at Edgeley Park.
The first chance of the day came on seven minutes and it went way of the hosts after they broke on the counter-attack, Sean Newton charging towards the by-line while holding off the attentions of the defence before firing in a cross-shot that Nathan Vaughan palmed over his own bar to the relative safety of a corner.
Four minutes later the visitors were indebted to Vaughan as he was again in action, tipping over Craig Hobson’s shot, the resultant corner kick forcing yet another save as Stockport looked to press hard from the off.
Neither side took real care of the ball early on as much of the game was rushed; it took 21 minutes for Harriers to make their first real chance as Lee Vaughan’s sweeping delivery was headed narrowly over at the far post by Anthony Malbon, Vaughan himself trying his luck with one that flew just wide around seven minutes later.
The hosts continued to fashion the more clear-cut chances and going into the last ten minutes of the half there was another for him as Danny Hattersley took aim with a super effort on the turn, blasting the ball at Vaughan who was on it and able to turn it around the post; minutes later again he was in action as he scooped away a shot from sub Alex Kenyon.
Harriers were too many times too sloppy with possession and they did eventually pay the price for it with the opening goal of the game going against them with a couple of minutes left in the half – robbed of the ball just inside the Stockport half, the reds were left scrambling and Josh Gowling tussled with Hattersley in the area with the latter going down – penalty, and duly converted by Sean Newton.
There were two good chances for Harriers to level in the dying moments of the first period, though; first when Keith Briggs fired just wide of Ian Ormson’s goal before Malbon blasted one toward goal that the stopper did well to turn on to the post.
The second half began with a delay owing to a clash of heads but with 52 on the clock there was an opening for Steve Burr’s men as Nathan Blissett’s dummy set up Ryan Rowe who blazed narrowly wide across the face of goal.
Three after the hour Blissett did well to get up and meet a Demetriou cross but the effort didn’t trouble Ormson, the same to be said for a Briggs effort moments later as he was teed up by Rowe.
With 73 on the clock County enjoyed a real spell of pressure and should really have doubled their lead; neat work from a throw in saw the, move the ball to Kenyon who turned and fired an effort at Vaughan who somehow managed to turn it over at point-blank range – a really superb stop; James Tunnicliffe then spinning a header just wide of the target.
With eight minutes to go a rare mistake on the ball almost cost them dear as Harriers nicked it through sub Marvin Johnson and charged forward 2v1 – in Malbon he had a better option but the winger chose to go for goal himself and forced a sprawling save from Orson.
The reds went even closer with just two left as Josh Gowling agonisingly lifted over the bar from Kyle Storer's free kick - just after, James Vincent keeping Ormson alert as he fired from distance.