Northwich Victoria 1 Harriers 1
Venue: Victoria Stadium
away fans: 151
The draw will have to do
The Harriers improved on Saturdays home defeat to Barrow by getting a draw at struggling Northwich tonight. The goal came early on in the second half from the in form Brian Smikle but we suffered a set back during the first half when Justin Richards went off with a hamstring injury.
It's not known how bad the injury is yet but he will probably miss this weekends game against Ebbsfleet at Aggborough.
Again we started the game with the same line-up that we've been going with for the past few months and at first we seemed a bit unsure of ourselves by letting the home side have rather too much possession. Aaron Burns could easily have opened the scoring for them in the very first minute when he turned and shot over from a tight angle on the right side of area.
We responded soon after with a short corner from Martin Brittain that ended up with Luke Jones getting a head to at the far post but it went straight at the keeper, Scott Tynan.
Northwich then started to get the better of the game and tested Adam Bartlett on a couple of occasions without really troubling him too much. Joel Byrom, James Mullan and Burns all went close with just a single shot from Russ Penn for us.
Then disaster struck the Harriers when Richards suddenly pulled up clutching his leg. He signalled to the bench that he was in pain and immediately Darryl Knights took his top off and prepared to come on in place of the leading scorer. It was our first real injury of the season but it had to come one day - we've been very lucky with injuries so far.
Once the change had been made the game went quiet for both teams and the game reached a lull in the proceedings until the whistle blew on the half with only a couple of half chances falling for either side.
HT: 0 - 0
Within minutes of the re-start the Harriers had taken the lead.
Russ Penn sent a long pass out for Martin Brittain to run on to and then beat the Vics defender to send over a low cross that Brian Smikle raced in on and slipped into the back of Tynans net. That was Juniors fourth goal of the season and twice as many as he's scored during his whole career.
The goal seemed to spur Northwich on and they had a shot from twenty five yards out from Michael Byrne that went just wide of the post. A minute later and Barts had pulled off a brilliant save to deny Burns again when the Vics striker had left Luke Jones and Keith Lowe rooted to the spot and then tried to shoot past Bartlett but the Harriers keeper got down well and blocked the shot at point blank range.
Eventually the Harriers regained control of the game and went all out trying to find the goal that would guarantee them all three points.
Russ Penn had the first chance but wasted it when he shot too weakly following a great pass from Knights. Matt Barnes-Homer should have scored but hesitated too long before trying to lob the keeper and Tynan managed to gather it easily.
Darryl Knights then sent a tantalising ball skimming across the face of the goal but there was no one available to finish the move off and then MBH tried his luck again but again he shot straight at the keeper. We then came the closest so far in increasing our lead when Knights hit the crossbar twenty minutes from the end after he had latched onto a poor clearance from a Northwich defender.
With a quarter of a hour of the game remaining Martin Brittain finally got the expected signal to come off and Dean Bennett came on in his place. Within minutes of the change Northwich had pulled the goal back and denied the Harriers all three points.
The Harriers conceded a free kick on the edge of the area after Mark Creighton had bought down the former Harriers loanee, Darryn Stamp, on as a substitute minutes earlier. Byrne sent the free kick over and it was cleared but only as far as Ryan Brown who then sent in a bullet shot from thirty yards out that beat Adam Bartlett ends up.
The Harriers sensed that they could be on the losing end of this game and so started to pulverise the Northwich goal in search of the winner but it never came. Darryl Knights tried to lob the keeper after spotting him off his line and then Keith Lowe sent a free kick well over the bar before the referee settled the proceedings by sounding the full time whistle.
The result was a fair reflection of the game in the end and was also a better result than last Saturday. We need to go one better against Ebbsfleet and take all three points to get ourselves back towards the top of the table.