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Match Report

 

Posted Sat 01 Nov 14 at 18:18 PM

REPORT: HARRIERS 2-1 TORQUAY UNITED

Kevin Nicholson’s goal against his former club proved to be the winner as Harriers secured an important three points with victory over Torquay United.

Marvin Johnson also got onto the scoresheet but Harriers couldn’t keep a clean sheet as Aaron Downes headed home late on for the Gulls.

Nevertheless, it was a thoroughly professional performance by Harriers who earned their first win in three league games to move ninth - two points behind the play-off spots.

Gary Whild made five changes to the Harriers starting XI which exited the FA Cup at the Fourth Qualifying Round stage to Eastleigh last week.

On-loan signing Matt Robinson made his Harriers debut, while Nicholson captained the side in the absence of Josh Gowling, who failed to fully recover from a shoulder problem in time, and the injured Kyle Storer.

Johnson, Nathan Blissett, Jack Byrne and Craig Reid also earned starts, in place of Reece Styche, who joined Tamworth on loan this week, Callum Gittings, Josh O’Keefe and Michael Gash.

United boss Chris Hargreaves made four alterations to his team which also suffered FA Cup disappointment at the hands of Aldershot Town.

Luke Young, Courtney Cameron, Ashley Yeoman and Niall Thompson replaced Louis Briscoe, Toby Ajala, Josh Wakefield and Duane Ofori-Acheampong.

But it was their former player Nicholson who came back to haunt them.

In a perfectly-written script for the 34-year-old defender, he scored his first Harriers goal against the club where he spent seven years of his career.

After Courtney Richards fouled Blissett around 35 yards out, the reliable left-back stepped up to curl his free-kick into the box, aiming for a red shirt to latch onto the end of it.

But his set-piece managed to evade everyone as it travelled towards goal and instead nestled into the bottom left-hand corner

Despite the obvious fondness for his old side, Nicholson’s jubilation was evident as he punched the air before being mobbed by his team-mates.

Johnson had earlier given Harriers the lead after only four minutes, netting his third goal of the season from a fabulous solo effort down the left-hand side.

Dodging his way past blue shirts, the winger found his way into the penalty area where, still at a slight angle, he hit a sweet strike into the top-right corner, leaving Gulls ‘keeper Jordan Seabright helpless.

Downes’ 89th-minute header for Torquay, provided by Ryan Bowman’s nod-on from Young’s corner, added a bit of last-minute drama for the Aggborough faithful but Harriers deservedly held on.

Whild’s side had looked smooth going forward all afternoon, a well-oiled machine with plenty of attacking vigour in Johnson, Blissett, Ahmed Obeng and Craig Reid.

Reid, who worked tirelessly, was involved heavily in many of Harriers’ attacks and had a golden opportunity to get onto the scoresheet after only 17 minutes.

The striker was perfectly-placed when Nicholson’s free-kick took a deflection but a floored Seabright had to be at full-stretch to claim the ball on the ground.

Five minutes later, Reid sent a looping shot narrowly wide after twisting and turning his way into a promising position, while he also had an effort off-target six minutes into the second half as Harriers put together another good piece of forward play.

Reid also linked up well with his team mates, playing a great one-two with Obeng two minutes before half-time as the winger raced down the right - thwarted only by a pinpoint Angus MacDonald tackle on the byline.

Debutant Robinson also put in a shift for his new side; a solid presence in midfield who distributed possession well.

And he almost had a goal himself after collecting the ball in the centre of the pitch and unleashing a low strike which flashed narrowly wide of the post.

Johnson, too, was venomous, lashing shots on goal and always available to deliver a curling cross into the box.

Jared Hodgkiss was one of the recipients of his deliveries on the 59th minute, but the right-back headed wide.

Seven minutes later, it was Johnson again who spotted Blissett in a promising position and sent in another great cross, with Seabright called into action to make a quick-fire save as the striker connected.

Both players had fans on their feet clapping as they were substituted during the second half for Aman Verma and Gittings respectively.

Chey Dunkley and Jamie Grimes were robust at the back for Harriers but, in reality, before the final 10 minutes, Torquay’s clear-cut opportunities were few and far between.

Their first solid chance came just after half-time, when substitute Ofori-Acheampong headed a Thompson cross over the bar - who himself sent a tame effort straight at Lewis on the 69th minute.

The Gulls stepped up the pace late on as Hodgkiss had to be alert to outjump Bowman and head clear from a cross, before substitute Ajala’s deflected shot won the corner which lead to Downes’ goal.

As the fourth official indicated four minutes of added time, Lewis pulled off a magnificent save from a Young free-kick, leaping to his right to dramatically palm the ball clear.

But that was the most he had been called into action all afternoon, as Harriers kept United at bay to cap off a strong and dominating display with a valuable victory.

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