Long suffering Harriers fans made their way home tonight after seeing another hard working display from the lads in the 2-1 win over a formidable Rochdale side that were a vast improvement on the Dale that we have met in previous years.
An early goal from Dean Keates set us on track for our first win since beating Scunthorpe two months ago. A cracking reply from Dales top scorer Grant Holt got the other side level half a hour later but a penalty, calmly slotted home by Ian Foster, midway through the second half sealed the points for us and took us closer to the rest of the strugglers.
There was a start for mid week signing Simon Weaver in defence and the other new man, Chris Beardsley was on the bench. Without a recognised front man Ian Foster was given the task of leading the line.
A shaky start for Rochdale saw the Harriers on the rampage in search of a goal straight away and they almost got that when Pedro Matias could have done better with a header after a lovely cross from Foster set him up. Minutes later and we had gone into the lead.
Simon Russell spotted Dean Keates on the edge of the area and played the ball just in front of him. Without any hesitation Keates let fly with a shot that left the Dale keeper, Gilks, rooted to the spot.
Harriers fans were to get their first disappointment when Simon Weaver was injured in a clash of heads with Grant Holt during a Dale attack. After looking very solid he was taken off to be replaced by Abdou Sall who managed to complete the game without any major catastrophes. It was Holt that got the equaliser for his side just after.
The ball was played across the area where slack marking and a deflection allowed the Leagues leading marksman to hammer in an unstoppable volley from outside the area.
With minutes remaining of the half we could have regained the lead when Russell had his shot blocked on the line by Heald.
HT. 1 - 1
With the news that Cambridge were losing at Oxford the Harriers re-emerged from the tunnel for the second half and were on the attack straight away. The ball was played into the corner for Ian Foster and after beating his marker he sent in a sharply angled cross that Matias only just failed to connect with.
Abdou Sall was the next to come close when we were awarded a free kick near to the corner flag. Dean Keates sent the ball over and Sall was the first to get near to it but a partial block from Healds shoulder stopped the ball going cleanly into the net and Gilks managed to stop to going in.
After that Rochdale took the upperhand for a long period of the game without managing to make their possession count. The Harriers defence were solid for once and Dale couldn't get a single clear shot on goal.
With the Harriers faithful thinking that we couldn't survive the onslaught much longer we were gifted a penalty out of the blue.
Pedro Matias played a ball in for Keates and as he tried to put the ball into the area it hit Wayne Evans arm and the referee, Danson, had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. It was harsh because Evans didn't really know much about it but we're in no mood to argue the toss at the moment.
Ian Foster stepped up to take it and with his usual calmness slotted the ball to the keepers right with him going in the other direction.
After that goal Rochdale seemed to be resigned to the fact that it wasn't to be their day and with time running down Chris Beardsley came on for Foster. He was in action straight away with a pass to Tom Bennett that went wide and then he got himself booked for over enthusiasm.
This result sets us up nicely for the trip to Cheltenham next Saturday. With Cambridge losing and Shrewsbury robbed in the last minute by a Chester equaliser we have closed the gap ever so slightly.
FT. 2 - 1
Man of the Match is : Dean Keates