Wrexham AFC 0 Harriers 1
Venue: Racecourse Ground
away fans: 156
Late, late McPhee goal sends us up to fifth
The Harriers leapfrogged above Stevenage in the table after a ninety fourth minute goal from Chris McPhee sent us straight into the play-off places in a very windy and cold Wrexham tonight. The Reds have also got a strong rearguard performance from the defenders to thank too because for most of the game they were under the cosh from a Wrexham side that were expected to go straight back up into League Two and have failed miserably.
Their form of only one win since Valentines Day has seen Dean Saunders side drop out of the race and now they sit in mid-table. Meanwhile we march on to possible promotion.
Starting with the same line-up for the fourth game running we were being pressured by Wrexham right from the start. We looked nervous at the back and on occasions found ourselves caught out or in possession by the pacey Dragons strikers. One in particular, the former Shrewsbury winger Sam Aiston, was having a field day against us.
Slowly we managed to compose ourselves and battled our way back into contention. Matters weren't being helped by an official who was being slightly too lenient with some of the tackles going in. Lee Baker found himself on the floor with a possible broken nose after one late challenge from Neil Taylor but what looked like a certain red card was deemed worthy of only yellow.
Wrexham had chances to score through Obi Anuruo, Aiston and Jefferson Louis but either their shooting was wayward or Adam Bartlett was on brilliant form and kept them out much to the dismay of the home fans who seem to hold a grudge against him for us beating them at Aggborough earlier in the season.
It took until the twenty fifth minute before we managed to venture forward and get in a shot on goal. Matt Barnes-Homer collected a short pass from off Darryl Knights, ran past the centre back Collin but then put his shot just wide of the upright.
Barts made a couple more good stops from Anuruo again and also one blinder from Aiston that took a deflection and went out for a corner. We then went down to ten men for a while because Bakers smashed nose was starting to bleed again and it looked like he might have to go off for good but he refused and couldn't wait to get back on the pitch.
Wrexham were still trying in vain to break us down and it was a relief when the whistle went for half time with the game still all square but it's only down to Barts superb keeping and some stout defending.
HT: 0 - 0
With the wind at our backs the Harriers looked the better bet to go on and win the game but it was the home side that again started the strongest. Anuruo saw a chance from distance and tried to lob the ball over Bartlett's head but only managed to send it way over the crossbar instead.
Bartlett managed to push away a Sam Aiston shot but only as far as Ryan Flynn whose follow up was cleared off the line by Martin Riley.
The game then degenerated into a midfield battle as each team cancelled the other out so it was a good time for Mark Yates to bring some fresh legs on. On came Martin Brittain in place of Knights and we started to get the ball out wider in an effort to get behind the Wrexham defence.
We were still struggling to break them down and thanks to some stalwart defending from Mark Creighton Wrexham were becoming frustrated in their inability to make any kind of headway against us. Yates then made another substitution and bought on Brian Smikle in place of MBH. A clear sign that we were going to settle for the hard earned point.
In fact it was the opposite because from that moment on we started to have some belief in ourselves and the game was beginning to turn in our favour. Justin had a couple of chances that didn't quite come of for him with one shot hitting a defender and another that was cleared off his boot just as he was about to strike.
Creights had a header well saved and then we had two corners in a row that couldn't be converted and then the third change of the night came for us with Michael Carr coming on for Russ Penn. That was the signal for Saunders to make a couple of changes to his side with Jon Brown coming on for the dangerous Ryan Flynn and amazingly taking off Sam Aiston for Michael Proctor.
Did we need any more encouragement?
For the final five minutes of the game the Harriers launched an all out attack on the Wrexham goal in a determined effort to get the winning goal. Justin put one chip over the bar and Martin Brittain sent in a free kick that Smikle only just failed to get to.
With the game now in extra time we won another two corners and from the second the ball landed just right for Chris McPhee to storm in and send a piercing header beyond the reach of Anthony Williams for the winning goal.
The Harriers fans celebrated as if they had won the FA Cup and the Wrexham fans poured out shouting abuse at any one within earshot but mainly at their own team. A team that should really have done better against a below par Harriers side.
Who cares. We won. We go fifth.