Harriers moved three points clear at the top of the table on Saturday as they overcame a tricky test at Southport to record a precious 3-1 win.
Southport raced out of the blocks and quickly put behind them a failed penalty appeal to go close to opening the scoring on five minutes – Danny Hattersley’s shot was spilled by goalkeeper Lewis and so nearly turned home by Karl Ledsham from close range but his effort was deflected over.
Alan Moogan struck over the bar after the ball was knocked down to him on the edge of the area, the hosts keeping up a strong spell of early pressure as Harriers battled in the face of the wind.
The first big opening for the visitors on a freezing afternoon came with 17 on the clock when Anthony Malbon
was denied an almost certain goal by a great last ditch tackle as he picked up on Mickey Demetriou
’s cross – Ledsham then almost making Harriers pay as he drove narrowly wide on the angle up at the other end.
Malbon teamed up with the returning Kyle Storer to set up Martin Devaney for another key chance with 28 on the clock but with his back to goal, the winger could only turn and fire a shot that was deflected behind.
Moogan was back supporting the Port attack nine minutes before the break and forced a neat save from Danny Lewis
as the home side continued to make the better of the openings but with just two minutes left of the half Harriers broke first blood. The ball was played cleverly out to Lee Vaughan
who had time and space to drill a cross at goal that keeper Smith could only parry to the feet of Michael Gash who duly poked home.
Ledsham would once again ensure Lewis was kept busy up at the other end as Southport responded well with an effort of their own, the keeper turning wide his angled drive.
The second half – from both sides –w as far slower to get started than the first period and it was approaching the hour mark by the time we had a chance and with it came a goal for the home side; Danny Hattersley bending an exquisite effort around Lewis and into the net.
Worse almost followed immediately as Shaun Walley dipped an effort on to the bar; Steve Burr looking to do his bit from the sideline as he then introduced James Vincent
and Danny Pilkington
into the fray.
Pilkington almost made the best possible impact on 69 minutes when, released by Jackman, he drove into the area and curled one at Smith that the debutant custodian did well to tip away.
Malbon’s turn and shot on 76 minutes was a rare second half chance for Harriers but on 86 minutes with the game looking set for a draw, the late show struck again for the reds. With his number up on the subs board, the man of the moment was Malbon who took the ball on and carefully guided a lovely shot around a crowd to find the bottom corner.
The game was duly done and dusted moments later and if the goal for 2-1 was all of Malbon’s making then 3-1 was a goal at least partly of Southport’s own doing, Pilkington turning superbly before lofting a ball under Smith’s nose that the keeper knocked onto the bar and right to sub Ryan Rowe who did the business.