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Match Report

 

Posted Sat 28 Mar 15 at 16:45 PM

REPORT: HARRIERS 3 BRAINTREE TOWN 1

A Danny Wright double helped Harriers end their winless streak as they earned a well-deserved victory at home to Braintree Town.

Lee Hughes also got onto the scoresheet, while Kenny Davis notched what proved to be a consolation for the Iron just after half-time.

Harriers move up to 11th in the Vanarama Conference with their first win since January and their first Aggborough victory of 2015.

Manager Gary Whild made three alterations to the side which lost 2-1 at Torquay United last Saturday, one of them forced with the departure of Josh Gowling on loan to Grimsby Town earlier this week.

New additions James Fry and Nathaniel Kelly, who both signed on youth loan deals from Birmingham City on Thursday, started for Harriers.

Fry, making his Harriers debut, replaced Kevin Nicholson in the starting XI but took up the right-back position, with skipper Jared Hodgkiss switching to left-back.

Meanwhile Kelly, playing his second game for the club after an earlier loan spell in January, slotted in alongside Jamie Grimes at centre-back.

Jack Byrne recovered from a hamstring injury which kept him out of the defeat to the Gulls and re-claimed his spot in midfield, at the expense of Ahmed Obeng who dropped to the bench.

Elsewhere, Braintree made one change from their 2-0 defeat at home to AFC Telford United midweek, as Ryan Peters came in for Remy Clerima.

On his 11th start for Harriers since signing from Gateshead in January, Wright got off the mark after just eight minutes.

Instigating an excellent overall performance which earned him the 'Man of the Match' award, the tall frontman raced onto a long Callum Gittings pass and ventured into the box, where he slotted a cool and composed finish past Iron ‘keeper Nick Hamann.

Five minutes later, Hughes doubled Harriers’ advantage with his third league goal since returning to Aggborough two months ago.

Wright had dropped deep to initiate the move and fed Hodgkiss, whose lofted pass found Hughes.

The experienced striker skilfully kept possession in the box amongst the white shirts which had caught up with him and sidefooted home from close range.

And Wright extended Harriers’ advantage six minutes before half time to give Whild’s men a strong three-goal lead.

Byrne worked tirelessly to retain possession as he entered the penalty area and ventured down the right-hand edge of the box to deliver a short cross to the waiting Wright, who had the simple task of nodding the ball into the back of the net.

Harriers were unfortunate not to keep their first clean sheet in five games as Braintree pulled one back in impressive fashion less than 30 seconds after the restart.

Skipper Davis, who had previously scored twice for the Iron against Harriers in past meetings, picked up possession from around 25 yards out and fired a well-crafted dipping strike past Danny Lewis to give the 39 travelling supporters a glimmer of hope.

And the visitors almost claimed a second immediately afterwards, as Bernard Mensah saw an angled strike flash narrowly wide past the far post.

It would have been harsh on Harriers who put in a controlled and confident first-half display after Wright’s opening goal provided them with a necessary boost.

Hughes and Mensah had early efforts for both sides before two goals in five minutes for the hosts gave them a solid platform.

Blues loanees Fry and Kelly had the difficult task of entering a team lacking in self-belief and in the midst of a losing run, but both performed admirably to help earn their new side three points.

Kelly in particular gave a gutsy and resolute performance, a far cry from the rather nervous figure he cut in his Harriers debut against Altrincham in the FA Trophy.

His display was typified by a crunching challenge on the edge of the box to thwart Sean Marks’ advance, a fair tackle which sent the ball flying in the opposite direction and earned the young defender a round of applause from the terraces.

Unfortunately for Marks, who had required treatment for an injury earlier on in the half, it signalled the end of his game as he had to be stretchered off the pitch.

His replacement Jordan Cox saw an effort on target soon after his introduction but Lewis was wise to his low shot, as Braintree fizzled out of the first half three goals down.

The visitors appeared rejuvenated after the interval, with Davis’ goal and Mensah’s near miss providing them with some encouragement.

Cox then found the net for the Iron 10 minutes after half time but the assistant referee had already raised his flag for offside.

To their credit, Harriers continued to work hard and displayed true grit and determination to hold onto their two-goal cushion.

Braintree had began to threaten more frequently than their first-half efforts but had few clear-cut goalscoring opportunities, as Mensah scuffed a chance from Akinola’s cross with around 20 minutes left, before Akinola himself was deemed to have fouled Lewis as he tried to head a delivery goalwards late on.

For Harriers, Academy player Luke Maxwell was able to make his third first-team appearance and got stuck in amongst the middle of the park, while also having an effort on goal as he headed wide from Aman Verma’s cross.

Akwasi Asante and Ahmed Obeng entered the fray in place of Wright and Hughes, who earned well-deserved standing ovations from the Harriers crowd.

There was a mixture of joy and relief around Aggborough as the final whistle blew, signalling a richly-deserved three points for Harriers and just what everyone at the club needed after a difficult few weeks.

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