A fortuitous last minute-goal was enough to deny Harriers a league win over Gateshead on Saturday as they were forced to make do with a share of the spoils in a 1-1 draw with the Heed.
Harriers started brightly at a chilly Aggborough and for the opening moments managed to pen their visitors into their own half. The only thing missing in that early spell was a concrete effort on goal but the closest came from the efforts on Nathan Blissett.
The bustling front-man caught out keeper and former Harrier Adam Bartlett off-guard and nipped the ball from him with around six minutes on the clock before turning it back across the face of goal where only a grateful Heed defender was on hand to hook it clear.
With 13 on the clock Blissett got up superbly to meet a deep delivery into the box, his angled header at goal had plenty of power behind it but was comfortably gathered by Bartlett.
Gateshead’s first chance of the day came from Josh Gillies a few minutes later as he flashed one over the target though on 25 minutes there was a real let-off for his keeper as he turned a driving Lee Vaughan cross on to his own post as Harriers continued to press.
Then followed a fairly lengthy lull in proceedings as both sides remained well organised but the deadlock was almost broken with less than six minutes of the half remaining; Kyle Storer was back defending and met a dangerous ball in, though could only head it on to his own bar as the reds went on to clear.
All havoc broke loose in the Heed half on the stroke of the interval as Harriers beat the offside trap as the ball bounced around, Anthony Malbon sticking with it before teeing up Keith Briggs who lashed at it from 20 yards, his effort tremendously well kept out by a flying Bartlett.
So Harriers ended the first period well and duly began the second in fine style by netting within moments of the kick-off; fantastic work by Ryan Rowe and Mike Williams as they combined – Williams squaring across the face of goal to Anthony Malbon who made no mistake in slamming the ball home for the fifth time this campaign.
Less than nine minutes later it was almost two owing to the great industry of Blissett; he chased down a ball deep in opposition territory and, one on one with Bartlett, got his toe to the ball but was denied in turn by the ‘keeper’s palm as he reached high to claw it away.
On 64 minutes the same two players did battle and Bartlett again denied the young powerhouse as he looked to curl one into his bottom corner; another strong stop by a quality custodian keeping Blissett at bay and Gateshead in the game.
Just over ten minutes later Bartlett was once more reminding Harriers fans why he was so popular during his spell in Worcestershire as he did well to get behind a rising drive from Storer.
With just seven minutes remaining, what would have been that all-important second goal so very close for Harriers; superb work by Lee Vaughan firing in a cross that was turned back across goal by substitute Richard Peniket, his delivery headed narrowly over by Blissett.
Against the run of the entire game, however, Harriers were robbed of what would have been a hard-fought but deserved victory as the visitors levelled with a rare attack; a free-kick drifted into the box and against the leg of a stood-still Ben Clark who forced it into the net despite knowing nothing about it.