Brown 3; Pearson 23, 58; Sonupe 56; Wright 78
Hopson 17 86; McTiernan 19, 25
Absolutely no idea. Where do you start??
A BREATHTAKING afternoon of football saw Harriers come out on top in a 5-4 thriller against Blyth Spartans at Aggborough.
One or two may have thought we were in store for goals ahead of this one – that went down as an understatement and then some as five were netted inside the first half an hour.
Harriers got the fun and games underway as they took the lead through Andre Brown’s sweet finish, but the visitors had the game on its head, McTiernan and Hopson finishing to have them 2-1 up on 19 minutes.
On his home debut, James Pearson headed Harriers back in front, before McTiernan stole a march on his man to restore the Spartans advantage.
Harriers were also bright to start the second period and, with just over a dozen played, it was they who netted two swiftly; Sonupe dusting himself off on 56 after winning a penalty to duly dispatch it, before Pearson rose highest to double his own personal tally with an absolute bullet for 4-3.
Harriers had wrestled control of the game and, on 78 minutes they had their third goal of the half when Andre Wright turned the ball home from a corner.
The reds’ youngsters still needed plenty of resolve to see the game out – especially after Hopson drive a great strike beyond Hall, but the second half performance got what it deserved as the whistle blew at 5-4.
From the off it was end-to-end and all-action, Harriers swiftly opening the scoring as a neat passing move saw Croasdale and Ironside combine, the striker playing in Brown who swept the ball into the back of the net in style.
Sonupe went within inches of a second for the hosts as Jameson was forced to smother the ball on the goal line – before Spartans took control with two goals in three minutes; Hopson keeping his composure to round Hall and finish low, before McTiernan volleyed home sweetly as the ball fell to him from a corner.
It was down to Harriers to then respond and they duly did so, Pearson’s looping, hanging header finding the far corner – before Blyth immediately struck once again, McTiernan nipping past his man to tuck a finish beyond Hall and into the net.
Both sides had big chances at more goals either side of the break, Maguire denied superbly by Hall’s fingertips as he looked to find the net with an angled drive on 42 minutes, while Ironside was luckless four after the restart in only being able to find the goalkeeper’s leg at point-blank range.
That good second-half start did get its rewards, Sonupe was prowling with menace as he was hauled down inside the area, the tricky customer making no mistake from 12 yards to draw his team level. And, once again, we had quick-fire goals, Harriers taking a 4-3 lead through Pearson’s second, a thumping header that found the top corner.
Jameson produced a smart brace of saves to deny sub Dan Bradley on-on-one, before Wright netted off the bench for the second weekend in succession, diverting Williams’ goal-bound into the roof of the net, just to make sure.
The second-half showing was enough for Harriers to deserve the three points – and they got them, but not without a frantic finish after Hopson’s second, a great strike in all fairness, found the back of the net to make it 5-4.
Blyth Spartans AFC
JOE IRONSIDE is hungry to find momentum both for himself and the team ahead of Saturday’s visit of Blyth Spartans to Aggborough.
The forward’s campaign thus far has mirrored that of the team in general.
He’s had an enforced stop-start beginning to the 2017/18 season through injury and, as a result, has struggled for consistency and rhythm.
But those positives have been tempered by the frustration surrounding the likes of the narrow 2-1 defeat at Tamworth.
Now, the team look to settle things down both on the pitch and in the treatment room ahead of this weekend’s action.
“It has been a bit frustrating,” says the former Nuneaton Town man of his own start.
“I’ve had a hamstring niggle for quite a while but I think I am over it now.
“We’ll be doing everything we can to win the game..." Joe Ironside
“I want to get back to perform how I want to be performing.”
Of the team as a whole he added: “We have put in some very good performances this season, but we have had some lacklustre ones as well.
“It’s about getting that consistency to get us going in the right direction.
“Hopefully we can now turn it around and start getting wins.
“It is a tough league this year and any team can beat any other.”
Alun Armstrong’s Spartans are next up for the reds.
They’ve enjoyed a fantastic start to life in a new division after promotion last time around.
They sit in the early play-off places having nailed points to the board in quick order.
Ironside knows that this is symptomatic of the entire league, going on to say: “It’s very tight at the moment and it’s a massive game for us on Saturday.
“We have worked hard all week – as we do every week – so hopefully we can go into the game Saturday and get the three points.
“We’ll be doing everything we can to win the game.
“We respect every team in this league so we do our homework [but] we focus on the way we play and how we want to play.”
As confirmed on Thursday, Harriers will run the rule over some of their injured players prior to tomorrow.
Lee Vaughan and Liam Truslove remain out for the foreseeable future, though James McQuilkin and Dan Bradley are among those rated 50/50 to feature.
Kick-off at Aggborough on Saturday is 3:00pm
WATCH: Joe Ironside’s full pre-match video by clicking the video tab above
BUY: Match tickets for tomorrow in advance by using the form at the top of this page, before 11:30am tomorrow.
Joe Ironside pre-match
James Pearson post-match
John Eustace post-match
Extended Match Highlights