Lewes 0 Harriers 1
Venue: The Dripping Pan
away fans: 100
The march to the play-offs continues
A first away win of 2009 at almost relegated Lewes saw the Harriers climb to within touching distance of the play-offs. Although the 1-0 win was narrow it was accomplished with ease against the managerless Sussex side that have now failed to gain a single point since beating Salisbury back at the start of December.
Mark Yates opted to go with the same line up as against Crawley in midweek with the subs bench also remaining the same.
In bright early Spring sunshine the Harriers were the first to stage an attack on the Lewes goal with a first minute free kick that was taken by Justin Richards. His kick hit the wall and came back to him but his follow up shot had no power and rolled harmlessly towards Rikki Banks' goal.
Our first real chance on goal fell the way of Dean Bennett when he picked up a pass and then took a shot from thirty yards out but the effort went just wide of the target. Russ Penn was the next with a chance but following his dart into the goal area he found his way through blocked by home defenders and the chance was gone.
Not so Matthew Barnes-Homer when he made his way down the right side of the pitch and played a low cross into the area for Richards to finish with ease at the far post
The Harriers stepped up the pressure following that goal and MBH went close with a header that went just wide but the flag had already gone up for offside. Penn also had a chance with a rare diving header from him but Banks was equal to it and saved the effort well.
With half time approaching we had two more attempts to increase the scoreline when, first, MBH cut inside and fired in a shot that the Lewes keeper held and then Darryl Knights well struck free kick went into the arms of the keeper.
HT: 0 - 1
Three minutes into the second half and the Harriers were in search of that vital second goal once more.
Barnes-Homer tried his luck with a half chance following a poor clearance from a home defender but Banks saved it easily again. Five minutes later Dean Bennett struck the ball cleanly towards goal following a corner and again Banks saved well. Lewes should be grateful that their keeper was pulling out all the stops to keep them in it.
Russ Penn tried his luck again with a long range shot that was rising all the way and then Lewes had their first shot on goal when David Wheeler's cross deceived everyone and went over Adam Bartlett's crossbar.
Just before the hour mark MBH missed out on a great chance to put us further in front when he only just failed to get to a cross from Richards at the far post. Three minutes later the youngster was taken off and replaced with Stefan Moore.
Lewes started to step up a gear now that they could see that we were starting to struggle in our attempt to increase the lead and the Harriers defence held back as Joe Keehan made his way into the box before passing to Rhys Henry who mis-fired slightly as his shot went across the face of the goal.
In the seventy second minute Yates made a double change by bringing on Martin Brittain for Russ Penn and Brian Smikle replacing Darryl Knights. Three minutes later the Lewes caretaker manager, Steve Ibbitson, also made a double substitution and bought on Tim Rivers to replace Rhys Henry and Ross Sutton in exchange for Stefan Cox.
Without any further real action, apart from a Martin Brittain free kick that hit the wall and a cross from Keith Lowe that Stefan Moore just failed to reach, the game ended with all three points going the way of the Harriers.
With Crawley only managing a draw at home to Rushden we managed to go above them into sixth place. The only other two sides that could stop us progressing further both dropped points today with Wrexham only managing to draw at Woking and Kettering losing at home to Eastbourne.
We play Woking at Aggborough and all three points are vital to us at this stage of the season if we want to get any higher.