A DREAM debut for Joe Ironside and a late winner from skipper Keith Lowe saw Harriers pick up a thrilling 4-3 win at Tamworth.
It was a nippy night at The Lamb as the two teams took to the field, but both sides quickly set about playing with a quick tempo that belied the low temperature.
It was Harriers who created the night’s first chance; six minutes on the clock when Elton Ngwatala drove firmly at goal from 18 yards – an effort that looked set for the net until James Belshaw clawed it away with a good pair hands.
Five minutes later and in quick succession, Connor Taylor worked Tamworth’s first chances of the night at the other end, including a bullet header from a corner that saw Sam Hornby produce a good save to turn it over the bar.
Sam Austin would soon after fire wide for Harriers, but from there the home side moved into the ascendancy and, with the visitors still adjusting from the loss of defender Jordan Tunnicliffe through injury, the Lambs pounced to take the lead; a well-delivered free-kick causing all sorts of problems in the area before Danny Newton forced it home.
It didn’t get any better in a hurry, either; one became two for Tamworth just seven minutes later and it was a former Harrier in Reece Styche doing the damage, stepping up to do the honours from the penalty spot after being fouled in the area.
Harriers have made a habit of responding well to set-backs this season and they did so here after that goal – a brace of efforts from Dan Nti, a free-kick over and a shot wide, ensured they remained in the game and then, on the very stroke of half time, they reduced the deficit.
A re-worked free-kick into the area saw McQuilkin again supply fine ammunition and there, on the spot, was debutant Joe Ironside to turn the ball home for his 19th of the season.
The start to the second half was far quieter than the first to start but once the chances started coming it was Belshaw who was needed at his best first, getting down low to keep out a deft finish from Ironside at the near post, before Croasdale tried his luck and was denied as the keeper turned his finish over the bar.
It would take something special to force the ball past Belshaw for a second time but, just past the hour mark Harriers found it in a towering header from Tyrone Williams, the substitute nodding another McQuilkin delivery into the net to the delight of the Harriers fans.
Taylor, bright throughout, had a sniff of a chance for the hosts with 71 on the clock but found his shot blocked by Williams, Harriers truly capitalising on that as they strode up the other end and took the lead – a long-range effort from Truslove spilled by Belshaw, where the predator Ironside was on hand to prowl and, eventually, smash the ball into the net.
Harriers defending solidly and gave very little away – so to equalise Tamworth needed to go the spectacular route, Ellis Deeney driving a rising, arrowing shot into the top corner from distance leaving Hornby no chance.
That mirrored the huge disappointment Harriers felt at Fylde at the weekend, but they didn’t show it – they went in search of a winner and found one as yet another fine McQuilkin delivery was powered home by the skipper Keith Lowe. How so very sweet.