Harriers’ promotion dream finally came to an end in the play-offs on Sunday as Wrexham recorded an ultimately comfortable 3-1 second leg win at Aggborough to take the tie 5-2 on aggregate.
A stunning, fully charged yet excited atmosphere from well over 6,000 fans packed inside Aggborough
greeted the two teams and, once again, the start was there to match as both sides looked to quickly live up to the occasion.
With a dozen minutes on the clock the woodwork of Chris Maxwell’s goal was shaking as the home side lifted things a notch, a real chance coming from a free-kick routine as Lee Vaughan
’s ball was met by Michael Gash’s flick header that bounced out off the upright.
then saw his shot on the rebound deflected over from a corner, from which Chey Dunkley
rose to power in a header of his own that Maxwell did well to get down and gather.
Midway through the first half Danny Lewis
watched a strong free-kick delivery into his hands as the visitors looked to press and it was with 30 minutes on the clock that they strode in front with their first real chance of the day; Harriers caught stone cold on the counter as they wasted a dangerous free-kick of their own – Brett Ormerod beating the offside trap and drawing out Lewis before slamming the ball into the back of the net.
Harriers tried to respond as both Danny Jackman and Anthony Malbon
had opportunities but neither really tested Maxwell seriously as the Dragons were able to see out the half comfortably enough.
It was Wrexham, through Dave Artell’s header, who had the best chance at the start of the second half as they saw the effort fly just inches off target with 47 minutes on the clock.
Harriers tried to lift the tempo in amongst the home ranks as Martin Devaney went close and a succession of penalty appeal s were waved away.
The one goal, the lifeline and the chance on which to build that Harriers so desperately wanted did come three minutes after the hour mark; Kyle Storer’s free-kick dropped into the six-yard area and forced home by Dunkley to the delight of the home fans.
Malbon rose to meet Vaughan’s cross five minutes later but could only steer a header wide of Maxwell, the major hammer blow coming for Harriers just moments later as they conceded a horror of a second goal, Joe Clarke’s angled free-kick from the corner of the area simply rolled along the ground and past Lewis.
With 12 minutes to go Harriers were pushing with all they had to extend their season and through Michael Gash they displayed the finest piece of individual skill in the game as the striker weaved his way through a number of challenges before drawing a top parry from Maxwell between the sticks.
Just four minutes remained when the dream was finally kicked into touch by the Dragons, sub Adrian Cieseiwicz gleefully going down under Josh Gowling
’s outstretched leg in the penalty area to the award of the spot kick that, just as in the first leg, Neil Ashton powered home.