Harriers 2 Crawley Town 0
away fans: 15
Classy Harriers show they mean business
The Harriers proved to us that their promotion ambitions are not over yet with this classy win at home to Crawley Town. Crawley, on the other hand, don't look as if they'll be there and apart from an opening fifteen minutes looked a sorry bunch.
For that first fifteen it was us that looked out of sorts and we were failing abysmally in our attempts to pass the ball to one another. Everything we tried kept coming back to us and the Crawley winger, Michael Malcolm, was giving Lee Baker a torrid time but to Lee's credit he stuck in there and did enough to put the Crawley man off.
Mark Yates changed to side around a bit from the one that drew at Salisbury on Saturday and dropped Martin Brittain to the bench and re-called Justin Richards to the starting line-up. Also starting for the first time in weeks was Russ Penn with David McDermott making way for him. Maccy D dropped out of the team altogether to allow Stefan Moore to make his comeback onto the bench.
After we had got the opening period out of the way we started to settle down a bit and once we had got the measure of the visitors we opened the assault on goal with a volley from Darryl Knights that went the wrong side of the post. Three minutes later and Justin Richards had his first taste of action when he headed the ball straight at Simon Rayner from Knights touchline free kick.
Mid-way through the half the Harriers took the lead. We were awarded a corner out on the left and it was played in to the near post where Keith Lowe was ready and waiting to head the ball over the line for the first goal of the night.
That goal was the signal for the Reds to take charge of the game and after that we rarely saw anymore of Crawley as a force. Even the useful looking Malcolm had seemed to lose interest.
Pressure was piled onto the Crawley goal and chances fell the way of Knights and Richards but the best chance came the way of Knights when another fine volley from the youngster came crashing back off the underside of the bar. The ball was hoofed away by a Crawley defender before anyone could pounce on it.
Five minutes before the end of the half Russ Penn showed us something of his old form when he let fly with a 30 yard effort that Simon Rayner pushed away towards one of his defenders.
HT: 1 - 0
In this half the Harriers took total control of the game and Crawley hardly got a look in. Our passing had now improved to such a high standard that Crawley were left chasing shadows and resorting to niggling fouls in an effort to put us off our game.
There was a major worry for us almost from the kick off when Keith Lowe went down injured in front of the East Stand for no apparent reason. From a distance it looked like a back injury with the physio manipulating his spine but thankfully he recovered after three or four minutes and was able to continue.
Steve Evans, the Crawley manager, could see that his side were not getting a look in and made an early substitution by bringing on Thomas Pinault in place of Chris Giles but it didn't seem to help matters much and we were still on top.
Just over ten minutes into the half and we got the long awaited second goal of the night, the goal that could finish the game off for us. Matt Barnes-Homer collected the ball out wide and played in a lovely cross to the far post where Justin Richards was waiting to poke the ball home. It was Justins first league goal since Mansfield at home in December when amazingly it was also Keith Lowe that scored in that game too.
We carried on in search of a third goal with Darryl Knights providing most of the inspiration. From two of his excellent crosses we could have scored but either a defender made a last ditch interception or a Harriers striker just failed to reach it.
The visitors made more changes to their side with Isaiah Rankin coming on for Jon Shaw and then soon after Lewis Killeen replaced the former Harrier, Glenn Wilson. It was Killeen that was to come closest to scoring for the visitors when his strike rattled the crossbar just a minute from the end of the game.
Just before that Darryl Knights left the field to a standing ovation from the Harriers fans as he went off to be replaced by Brian Smikle. That was the first change of three for us as we tried to run the clock down with the points safely in the bag. In the dying seconds Stefan Moore came on for a few minutes for the first time since getting injured three weeks ago.
The whistle finally went on an excellent game for us and the play-offs still in sight. Late goals for three sides near the top - a winning goal for Torquay at Altrincham in the third minute of extra time, a late, late equaliser for Wrexham at home to FGR and a winning goal for Cambridge Utd two minutes from the end after losing 1-0 through most of the game against Mansfield - didn't help us much but Histon losing at Barrow did.
We now travel to bottom of the table and manager less Lewes on Saturday. Unlike the opening day game against them when we struggled to a 1-1 draw this time we have to aim for all three points.