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Match Report


Posted Fri 26 Dec 14 at 16:15 PM


Aman Verma’s double helped Harriers to a fantastic victory at Forest Green Rovers to seal their fourth consecutive win.

Jack Byrne also got onto the scoresheet as Gary Whild’s side put in an impressive performance to twice come from behind and take all three points late on.

Former Harriers striker Lee Hughes and James Norwood found the net for Rovers but Harriers had the final say as they moved, temporarily at least, into sixth place following the earlier kick-off.

Whild made two alterations to the Harriers side which beat Lincoln City 2-1 last week, as the injured Josh Gowling was forced to miss out while Craig Reid started on the bench.

Defender Jordan Tunnicliffe made his Harriers debut alongside Jamie Grimes in Gowling’s absence, while Verma returned to the team after recovering from illness.

As well as Grimes, there were also starts for Jared Hodgkiss, Reece Styche and Kevin Nicholson against their former employers.

Forest Green also made two changes after losing to Grimsby Town, as Chris Stokes and Kurtis Guthrie were replaced by Rob Sinclair and Hughes.

And, in a typically-written script, it was Hughes who came back to haunt Harriers early in the first half, heading a Marcus Kelly free-kick past Danny Lewis after half an hour.

Tunnicliffe conceded the foul but his team-mates looked unhappy with what seemed to be a rather harsh decision, even more so after finding themselves 1-0 down.

Verma scored his first and Harriers’ equaliser after 34 minutes, rising highest in a sparsely-populated penalty area to nod home from Nicholson’s left-sided cross.

Just five minutes later, however, Rovers were back in front through Norwood, who had looked dangerous throughout the first half.

Some lax defending on Harriers’ part allowed Hughes, who had just seen a shot blocked by Tunnicliffe, to recover substantially enough to spot his team-mate and set him up from close-range for his ninth league goal.

Rounding off an action-packed 14-minute spell was Byrne, the midfielder allowed plenty of space to stoop and send another header past Sam Russell from another excellent cross, this time by Kyle Storer on the right.

And it was Harriers with the last laugh as a spell of attacking pressure culminated in Verma’s second goal of the afternoon.

A clumsy clearance from a Storer shot almost let in substitute Akwasi Asante but the ball was hastily hacked away, before Byrne’s blocked shot won a corner.

Reid fired in the set-piece and Marvin Johnson sent the ball back into the danger-zone for Verma to calmly control and blast into the back of the net.

Harriers had previously rippled the net twice but both were denied in differing circumstances.

At 2-1, Johnson fired home moments after the whistle had been blown by referee Craig Hicks for a foul in Rovers’ favour, while Verma initially sent the travelling Harriers contingent into raptures five minutes earlier but his 76th-minute effort was ruled out for offside.

The hosts had the first real goalscoring opportunity of the game through Norwood, who jinxed his way past a couple of yellow shirts as he cut in from the right and fired a stinging shot against the post after 13 minutes.

Storer and Byrne too had early chances, the former rolling a long-range shot wide before the latter, set up by Callum Gittings, unleashed a shot inside the area which was well-blocked by Luke Oliver.

After a brilliant tackle by Hodgkiss had halted Norwood’s run into the area shortly after the hosts took the lead, the Rovers dangerman almost handed them back the advantage immediately after Verma’s equaliser.

Danny Lewis made a fantastic stop from the Rovers man, diving to his right to keep out a low strike seemingly destined for the bottom corner.

In a more even second half, Norwood should really have given his side the lead five minutes in, when he somehow sent Elliott Frear’s left-sided cross wide with the goal gaping in front of him.

Leading goalscorer Jon Parkin, along with Hughes and Norwood, looked keen up front for Forest Green, with the latter two denied firstly by the post, then Lewis with headers.

Johnson upped the tempo for Harriers as the second half went on, trying to capitalise on a poor goalkeeping clearance before fantastic work down the right-hand side saw him fizz down the byline and send in a low cross which was hacked clear.

After Verma grabbed the lead for Harriers in the final 10 minutes with his fourth goal of the season, Rovers pushed and Lewis was called into action to deny an attempted flick-on by Hughes from a late set-piece, shortly after Tunnicliffe had made a great goal-line block.

The Harriers shot-stopped then demonstrated fantastic reactions to deny Sinclair right at the death as the midfielder tried to snatch a late equaliser with a close-range angled effort.

Whild’s men held firm to triumph in a Boxing Day feast of football, setting Harriers up nicely for the rematch at Aggborough on New Year’s Day after Sunday’s clash against Southport.

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