|Harriers throw away lead and go out of Cup
Harriers went out of the Worthington Cup at the first hurdle tonight but they didn't go out quietly.
In fact they almost sprung one of the surprises of the round when they took a two goal lead into half time through a couple of cracking goals from Tony Bird and left a shell shocked North End to face the wrath of manager David Moyes in the dressing room.
The first goal came totally against the run of play after Preston had dominated the opening 10 minutes with their slick possession football.
Harriers were visibly struggling and didn't seem to have any answer to it.
Anderson came close for the visitors in the opening minutes and a rout looked on the cards but after Drewe Broughton had a goal crossed off for offside we started to make more of an impression.
On 15 minutes came a goal that will certainly be in contention for goal of the season.
Birdie picked the ball up after some slack marking by Preston and then slipped past the defender to make an angled run on goal.
He then coolly picked his spot in the top corner and let fly.
Lucas in the Preston goal didn't stand an earthly.
A few seconds later he almost claimed a second when his header from outside the area cannoned off the far post.
By now the Harriers were running the show and Preston were looking to be on their way out.
Shots came in from the disappointing Broughton and Mark Blake and then Birdie struck again after 35 minutes.
A long cross from Ian Foster found Bird lurking almost on the byeline ready and waiting to half volley it past the keeper.
After Preston's halftime rollicking they started the second half with a double substitution, Michael Keane and Kevin Gallacher (yes, that Kevin Gallacher) came on to replace Lee Cartwright and Mark Rankine.
Now with three out and out strikers up front in Gallacher, Healy and Macken it was obvious they were going to make a fight of it.
Harriers started to lose the grip that they had and were struggling to keep pace with Preston.
Parfait was having a mare, continually out of position and a yard and a half behind.
Blake was also struggling in midfield and it was a surprise that the first of Preston's goal took so long to come.
Almost immediately after Jan had made a double substitution, taking off Broughton and Foster for Hadley and Doyle, Preston got back in the game.
Jon Macken, who up till now had never looked to be worth his £5 million price tag, grabbed the first and then 5 minutes later they had equalised with a disputed goal.
Gallacher picked up the loose ball from Mackens shot and with the ball heading for the net Stuart Brock tipped it over but it wasn't enough and as he made a second grab for it to keep it out the linesman flagged for the goal, saying it had crossed the line.
So the whistle went for ninety minutes and the game went into extra time.
The Reds looked tired and out of ideas.
Many fans thought that Ducros should have come on instead of Doyle in an effort to boost the team and add a bit of pace that had gone missing.
The ref wasn't helping either by letting some of the Preston players get away with murder.
Three times during the latter part of the game one of ours was stopped on the edge of the area from getting a clear run on goal by a previously booked player.
The ref bottled it.
It looked certain that another Preston goal was on the cards and it came eight minutes in when Jackson sent a powerful header into the net from a corner.
In the dying minutes Scott Stamps was bought down in the area but the ref had been forewarned by by his mates in the refereeing world that you don't give penalties to the Harriers.
So that was it for another year, watch Preston draw Man Utd or Liverpool in the next round.
The Reds went off to a standing ovation and now it's back to the bread and butter of Torquay this Saturday.
FT. 2-2 (After 90 mins)
Harriers-Online Men of the Match are
Two..Ben Davies and Lee Ayres.
They both played their hearts out and rarely put a foot wrong.
Danny Williams and Adie Smith are going to have to fight for their places back.
Brock, Medou-Otye, Stamps, Hinton, Broughton, Foster, Shilton, Ayres, Davies, Bird, Blake.
Subs; Hadley, Doyle, Murphy, Ducros, Joy.
Lucas, Alexander, Eaton, Murdock, Jackson, Gregan, Cartwright, Rankine, Healy, Macken, Anderson.
Subs; Gallacher, Keane, Cresswell, Moilanen, Barry-Murphy.
Yellow. Harriers 3. Shilton, Hinton, Ayres.
Yellow. Preston 2. Gregan, Keane.
Red. Harriers 0.
Red. Preston 0.
Referee;Mr A Hall (West Midlands).
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