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Match Report

 

Posted Sun 28 Dec 14 at 18:00 PM

REPORT: HARRIERS 0-1 SOUTHPORT

Harriers suffered their first defeat in five games in a disappointing end to 2014 as Southport left Aggborough with all three points.

On a difficult surface, Gary Whild’s side created good chances to find the net but it was Luke George who won it for the visitors with a superb strike shortly after the hour mark.

It was the first time in nine games where Harriers had failed to score, and it pushes them down to seventh in the Vanarama Conference, although they remain out of the play-off spots on goal difference only.

Whild made two changes to the Harriers line-up following their 3-2 win over Forest Green Rovers on Boxing Day.

Aman Verma and Callum Gittings missed out through injury, which saw Craig Reid return to the starting XI.

Meanwhile, Luke Maxwell, star of Harriers Academy's FA Youth Cup run, travelled with the squad on Boxing Day and makes his first-team debut today - the first Academy player to feature in the league for Harriers.

Southport made three changes to the team which lost 1-0 to Wrexham on Boxing Day, as Clayton McDonald, Danny Hattersley and Amadou Bakayoko were replaced by John Marsden, Paul Smith and Mitchell Austin.

The visitors took the lead after 66 minutes, a moment of magic for the Sandgrounders in a game of little quality.

Substitute Hattersley delivered a right-sided cross which was cleared into the path of George, who unleashed a fantastic strike from 30-yards out which curved beautifully into the top left-hand corner.

It was the pinnacle of a quieter second half after Harriers, in a match generally devoid of real clear-cut chances, had enjoyed the better of the first.

Indeed, Whild’s men had the ball in the back of the net on the stroke of half-time but it was ruled out for offside.

Jack Byrne poked home Jared Hodgkiss’ low cross from the right, only to be thwarted by the assistant referee, who had raised his flag as Hodgkiss made the pass.

During the opening 45 minutes, Reece Styche and Reid were in the thick of the action for Harriers and proved a handful for Southport as the half went on.

Reid had the game’s first chance after seven minutes after Kyle Storer picked him out on the edge of the area with a smart delivery, but the striker turned and fired a thumping effort wide.

After his fantastic cross set up Byrne to get Harriers’ second on Boxing Day, Storer was certainly picking up where he left off and continued in his endeavours, Byrne heading his ball straight at ‘keeper David Raya Martin after 15 minutes.

Southport were looking keen through Richard Brodie and Marsden, the former lashing an angled shot against the side-netting early on before the latter sent a fierce angled drive over the bar just before the interval, after his low shot on 20 minutes was collected by Danny Lewis.

But Harriers demonstrated their defensive capability through superbly well-timed tackles by Jordan Tunnicliffe and Storer during the opening half.

Maxwell looked bright on his debut, as he raced onto Reid’s through ball after 17 minutes only to be ruled offside, before seeing a shot blocked on the 36th minute when Styche’s clever low cross from the right fell at his feet after being mis-kicked by Reid.

Marvin Johnson was keeping the opposition on their toes as usual and forced Raya Martin into a diving save with a curling shot after 20 minutes.

The winger called the Southport ‘keeper into action again just after the half-hour mark, easily darting past Dominic Collins and Mitchell Austin to drive across the byline and see a close-range poked shot stopped, before he cut in from the right and sent a low effort wide just 60 seconds later.

Within seven minutes of the second half, Storer had seen a well-hit volley bounce wide, before Styche and Reid had shots saved and blocked respectively.

The game began to fizzle out as only Styche and Maxwell had efforts of note before Southport broke the deadlock, the former forcing Raya Martin into a quick-fire save after a swift turn and shot, while the latter sent a header backwards from a corner which caused trouble before being scrambled away.

Late on, Tunnicliffe glanced a header narrowly wide from Storer’s corner and substitute Jake Green’s dangerous strike was tipped marginally over the bar, before Byrne spotted the ‘keeper off his line but his low effort was blocked.

On an unpleasant Aggborough pitch the game looked to be heading for a goalless draw as the second half wore on, but George’s super strike put pay to Harriers’ hopes of finishing the year on a high with a move into the top five.

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