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Match Report


Posted Sat 18 Apr 15 at 16:45 PM


Danny Wright’s goal helped Harriers thwart Barnet’s title hopes as Luisma Villa’s second-half equaliser could only earn the visitors a share of the spoils.

In an entertaining encounter, Gary Whild’s side fought valiantly against the league leaders and were well-worth the point after a hard-working and committed display.

The draw moved Harriers up into 14th, while the Bees remain only a point ahead at the top of the table as Bristol Rovers also drew at Dover Athletic.

The gaffer made four changes to the side which lost 3-0 at Welling United last Saturday, as he aimed to field a more experienced Harriers team than what we have seen in recent weeks.

Recalled from his loan spell at Hednesford Town, Jordan Tunnicliffe returned to the starting XI, while Kevin Nicholson also made a re-appearance at left-back and Jack Byrne recovered from his hamstring injury to re-claim his spot in centre midfield.

Meanwhile, Josh O’Keefe made his first league start for Harriers of the season, after previously featuring in the FA Cup against Eastleigh and off the bench at FC Halifax Town earlier on in the season.

The quartet replaced Huddersfield Town loanee William Boyle, injured duo James Fry and Callum Gittings, and Luke Maxwell, who made a substitute appearance later on.

Fry’s fellow Birmingham City loanee Nat Kelly remained in the line-up but took up a role on the left side of midfield.

Barnet, on the other hand, were unchanged from last week’s win over Halifax and former Harriers striker Michael Gash started.

Wright’s third Harriers goal of the season six minutes before the interval was no more than his side’s strong first-half performance deserved, as he silenced the 800-strong travelling Bees.

In a well-worked set-piece, Nicholson’s left-sided free-kick was headed across the box by Lee Hughes and, out of the mass of bodies in the box, Wright leapt highest to nod the ball past Bees ‘keeper Graham Stack.

But Harriers couldn’t retain the lead as, on the 75th minute, substitute Villa equalised for the visitors just three minutes after coming on, guiding the ball low into the bottom right-hand corner from close range.

Aside from the goal, the first half’s main talking points came around the half-hour mark, when both sides could well have had the chance to take the lead.

Harriers should have been awarded a penalty after 29 minutes when Hughes was felled in the area.

Byrne had collected a loose ball from a Barnet attack and hit a spectacular long pass towards his team-mate, who was lurking upfield on the right-hand side.

Hughes advanced with vigour, powering into the box and switching feet ready to strike, but he was caught by the trailing leg of Elliott Johnson.

However, referee Nicholas Kinseley waved away the striker’s appeals and subsequently booked him for dissent, much to the displeasure of the Aggborough terraces.

Three minutes later, a glorious Jamie Grimes goal-line clearance thwarted Andy Yiadom’s low shot from the edge of the box.

John Akinde was first to the follow-up and found Gash at the far post but the former Reds frontman somehow placed his effort wide.

Barnet emerged from the interval with a vengeance and tested both ‘keeper Danny Lewis and the woodwork on numerous occasions.

Lewis pushed a Yiadom chance against the crossbar and clear six minutes into the second half and blocked an attempt by the on-rushing Akinde at the striker’s feet four minutes later.

For Harriers, Keyon Reffell was introduced shortly before the hour mark and looked bright, forcing the Bees to keep tabs on him down the right flank.

And Wright had a golden chance to increase Harriers’ lead on the 64th minute as substitute Craig Reid had an immediate impact, sending his team-mate clear to charge down the centre and hit a low shot on goal, which Stack did well to guide behind.

It was Akinde’s turn to find the crossbar soon afterwards with a header, and moments later skipper Curtis Weston flashed an angled shot inches wide as Barnet turned up the gas.

Nicholson was provided with another chance to deliver a successful free-kick on the 69th minute after Stack was yellow-carded for handling outside the area, but the left-back curled his set-piece over the bar.

After finding the equaliser, Barnet continued to attack and Akinde found himself through on goal with five minutes to go, but Lewis got down low to make a fantastic stop from close range.

Harriers then almost snatched a winner with seconds remaining, as Kelly aimed for the bottom corner with a thumping low effort from inside the box, but it was touched just wide by a purple and white shirt.

A high-tempo game with copious amounts of drama, it was a Harriers performance worthy of their last at Aggborough this season and, all in all, their hard-earned point was a fair outcome.

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