Harriers got themselves into the First Round proper of the FA Cup with Budweiser for the first time in far too long as they won 4-2 at Grimsby in a simply thrilling contest at Blundell Park.
It was a bright beginning from both sides on a cool afternoon and through Dayle Southwell the home side had the first chance of the contest within the first minute as he shot straight into the palms of Nathan Vaughan when perhaps placed to do much better.
The scoring was opened with just eight on the clock and it was Harriers who netted – the move forward was a good one, as was Lee Vaughan’s whipped cross towards the far post but in truth Anthony Malbon profited from some lazy defending as he had time to pick it up and take a touch before driving it home past James McKeown for his fourth of the season.
The Mariners barely seemed prepared for the strong start made by Steve Burr’s men and both Nathan Blissett and Malbon had chances to double the lead before the visitors did indeed make it 2-0; Kyle Storer’s deep corner met at the far post by Chey Dunkley who headed past defender son the line.
Still further this early drama came and on just 18 minutes the game got its third goal and Harriers stretched their lead even further, Malbon upended in the area by Nathan Pond for a penalty – the team’s first of the season – that Lee Vaughan duly converted.
Time to settle down? Not so – less than two minutes later Grimsby made a superb statement of their intent to stay in the game by pulling one back, Sam Hatton playing in Derek Niven who turned and powered one past Vaughan and into his top corner.
That goal seemed to settle Town better than the early flurry did for the visitors and it was Grimsby who grew stronger in the ensuing period as Anthony Elding and Niven both had chances to further reduce the deficit.
It’s a statement of the obvious that the next goal was always going to be beyond crucial and, from a Harriers perspective the circumstances in which Grimsby got it were far too sloppy – there was a switch off from a quickly-taken free-kick and Scott Neilson was free to pick up the second ball before steering it into the net via a deflection and the post – 3-2.
Straight from the off in the second half the Mariners peppered the Harriers goal with chances as they looked to level things up, Andy Thanoj and Neilson both having efforts to test Vaughan.
Bang on the hour, there was a double change on the hour mark as Marvin Johnson replaced Ryan Rowe, Mike Williams also introduced in favour of Mickey Demetriou.
Four minutes later Elding forced a strong save out of Vaughan as the experienced forward met a corner ball at the far post, his effort tipped over the bar well by the stopper who was by far the busier of the custodians on show.
Harriers had very few chances to get themselves a fourth, such was the relentless Grimsby pressure but on 71 minutes there was one presented to Josh Gowling who met a ball at the far post before turning it around a defender and fizzing a shot that blazed across the face of goal.
Closer they came just moments later as a good passing move began to boost confidence once more, Blissett with his back to goal setting up James Vincent who struck the ball first time and sent a curling effort narrowly wide of a beaten McKeown and the target.
McKeown kept his team in it with 13 minutes left to go as good work again from Gowling took the ball deep into their territory; he supplied Malbon who in turn drew Lee Vaughan on to it, his rasping shot kept out excellently by the keeper.
As you’d expect, Grimsby well and truly kept the pressure on with a succession of balls into the box and successive corners and it was from one of these that Harriers finally put the tie to bed in injury time – breaking away from a corner, Marvin Johnson charged like a bull at the empty net with McKeown up in attack and took great glee in firing in the fourth in front of 81 travelling fans.