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Rushden & Diamonds 2 Harriers 1


Date: 25-04-11gif Venue: Nene Parkgif att: 1569gif away fans: 522
The Harriers dream is over for another year

gif Report by Harry Taylor
The Harriers march towards the play offs finally, for definite, came to an end with a 2-1 loss at Nene Park as financially troubled Rushden & Diamonds ran riot over a Harriers side who were second best throughout.  In truth the Harriers never got going and never looked like a side that were capable of beating a Rushden tht looked creative and could have had more goals.

The Harriers lined up with the same formation and players that played against Fleetwood on Friday night, Rushden were missing many key first team players through injury and suspension and therefore had to field a weakened line-up.

With the 522 Harriers fans in fine voice the match started and it's a pity the players didn't show the same endeavour on the pitch although the first half saw both teams playing pretty poorly.  Harriers had two chances to open the scoring with Matty Blair running in from the left and shooting early, too early perhaps as Simon Evans made a more than comfortable save.  Lee Morris had a chance also but blazed it well over the crossbar, also taking the chance earlier than he should have with there being ample time for the ball to drop.

Rushden looked lively, Nabil Shariff and Aaron O'Connor caused the Harriers defensive partnership of Michael Briscoe and Mark Albrighton problems all afternoon and both were guilty in both halves of wasting chances that could have been put away.
  HT: 1 - 0
The second half started with a disaster after Rushden were awarded a penalty within three minutes of the restart.  Shariff hit a hard shot that struck a falling Briscoe on the arm and the referee awarded the penalty.  Perhaps harsh on Briscoe as his arm was in its 'natural position' and the shot was hit with a fair amount of power.  Aaron O'Connor stepped up and put the penalty to the left of Danny Lewis who dived and the ball went in just about the only place that he couldn't reach.

The Harriers now had a mammoth task on their hands but still didn't respond or raise the tempo.  Time and time again Chris McPhee in particular would fail to challenge for aerial balls whatsoever, play poor passes and then get frustrated and throw in a silly challenge.

It was a poor game by the ex-captain and one he'll not wish to dwell on for too long.  He seems unable to be substituted (not his fault) and it was Keith Briggs and Lee Morris who went off on the 58th minute to be replaced by Nick Wright and Sean Canham.  Canham had another poor game and if he does sign for Harriers on a permanent basis in the summer many will question why.

The Harriers did turn up the heat slightly with a few blocked shots and a header from Canham that was fairly wayward but still nothing to excite the fans who at the idea of their season being over had quietened down.  McPhee had a golden opportunity to get the Harriers back into the game as a high ball dropped in front of him, 20 yards away from goal and with the keeper to beat he took a touch with the outside of his foot and was robbed easily, squandering perhaps the best chance of the game to get the side back in it.

The addition of Nick Wright added a new fresh approach and impetus to the Harriers play and he eventually set up the Harriers equaliser in the 84th minute with him getting the ball on the right, running towards goal and crossing for it to bounce off McPhee into the goal.

Now the Harriers fans again found their voice and willed their side on with every man in a red shirt going for broke, eventually leading to us being caught on the counter-attack in the 90th minute.  Rushden came forward on the counter, catching Kidderminster off-guard and O'Conner fired in a shot that Lewis parried and former Harriers loanee Ryan Charles tapped in.

With that sickener came the next sickener.  With time running out everyones attention was suddenly drawn to the halfway line and a group of four or five Harriers players.  The referee came across, spoke to Jack Byrne and then produced a red card, Jacks third of the season.

Some say he had head butted a Rushden player but there weren't any near to the group of our players and there certainly wasn't one on the floor.  No one seems to know who this Rushden player was supposed to be either but the incident means that Jack will miss the final game of the season and probably a months worth at the start of next season too.

It was also disappointing that after a standing ovation by Harriers fans during halftime for the presentation of gifts from Dale Roberts parents that a Rushden player, Michael Corcoran, should find it amusing to wave at the Harriers fans as Jack Byrne walked from the pitch.  And their fans wonder why other clubs fans despise their team so much?

Game over and a sterile end somewhat to the Harriers season, leaving many of the fans who were there deflated after seeing us draw against Luton after being goals down, and other great comebacks showing fight that just wasn't there today.  Barring a miracle, our fight to get into the play-off's is over.
When you bear in mind our financial situation at times this season, particularly in January and February, the fact we are able to function as a football club is a miracle, never mind challenge for a play-off place, and many will point to the five points that has been taken off us, which would have put us in the play offs if we had still got them.  But we haven't and we've got to take the positives from this season and move on.

One game left, already relegated Histon at home next Saturday, so let's send the season off with a bang.
  FT: 2 - 1

 Goals for Rushden: O'Connor (pen), Charles 90
 Goal for Harriers: McPhee 85

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Rushden & Diamonds  subs   cards      Harriers  subs   cards 
Evans     Lewis  
Miller     Vaughan
Oshodi     Williams  
Corcoran   Briscoe  
Power     Byrne
Osano   Albrighton  
Johnson     Blair  
O'Connor gif     Briggs gif  
Huke     Morris gif  
Shariff gif   McPhee  
Day   Gittings gif  
SUBS:       SUBS:    
Broadbent     Stevens  
Farrell     Wright gif  
Charles gif     Shaw gif  
Keehan     Matt  
Cousins gif     Canham gif

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