Harriers won the crucial play-off six pointer at Forest Green Rovers on Tuesday night as Anthony Malbon’s first-half strike was enough to settle the affair.
The game was slow to get started as the two sides took time to feel one another out – some 13 minutes had elapsed before the first attempt at goal arrived as Rovers’ Chris Stokes took aim but saw his angled shot drift wide of the target.
With 27 minutes played you’d have to have said that Rovers had made much the better start to the game but against the run of play it was the visitors who stole ahead; capitalising on a defensive error in the area as Marvin Johnson
charged down a throw; the ball eventually falling to the feet of the in-form Anthony Malbon
who didn’t need asking twice before slamming the ball home.
Almost immediately there was a sniff of an equaliser as Magno Vieira looped a turn-and-shot over the bar; Kyle Storer then driving one wide for Harriers with nine minutes remaining in the half.
There was a huge chance for Rovers’ top scorer James Norwood just seconds before the break but his shot from close range was off target as Harriers tried to close ranks, the effort still close enough as the home side continued to look a real threat.
Soon after the restart the chances continued to come for Forest Green and on 51 minutes they were denied only by a fine save from Daniel Lewis as he rose to parry away a superb free-kick from Stokes; Norwood soon after curling over the top.
Four after the hour mark the visitors almost eased the pressure on themselves in the ideal way – scoring a second. This time the intervention was from the other keeper in Sam Russell; he tipped Josh Gowling
’s header on to the bar when it looked destined for the top corner.
Yan Klukowski dropped a header just wide on 72 minutes as Rovers continued to press, the same player going much closer but still off target seven minutes later, this time just inches the difference – Matty Taylor later driving wide on the angle.
Seven minutes prior to the final whistle Lewis was seemingly single-handedly keeping his team ahead as he made a great double save – holding Norwood’s effort prior to a great low stop to deny Taylor as he surely must have thought he’d scored from around eight yards.
Just when you thought Forest Green might finally force a way through, it was actually Harriers who came closest to a second goal in the game but sub Danny Jackman’s curler bounced off the inside of the post with the goalkeeper soundly beaten.