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Harriers 1 Wrexham AFC 0

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Date: 26-02-11gif Venue: Aggboroughgif att: 3028gif away fans: 866
Harriers survive a second half onslaught

gif Report by Philip Lench
The Harriers made their way up to fifth place in the table with this narrow win against a rather physical Wrexham side that still sit two places above us.  Behind us are now Fleetwood who lost at home, somewhat surprisingly, to an Eastbourne side that had only collected a single point since November and had lost eleven games in a row both home and away.

Kettering also did us a favour by effectively putting Newport out of the picture with a 2-0 home win against them.  We now have both Gateshead and York City creeping up into the equation now and all of that could make the run in to the end of the season very interesting.  That doesn't even take in the fact that we ourselves have a very tough run in too.

Todays win, thanks to a Chris McPhee penalty, saw us deal with the first of four tough games in a solid, if unspectacular, fashion.  With a better crowd at Aggborough thanks to a very good, as expected, Wrexham following the game got off to a furious start on a wet pitch thanks to the overnight rain.  It was end to end stuff right from the word go and in the opening minutes we could have taken the lead when Mike Williams, playing against his former club, sent over a probing cross that Jay Harris almost put into his own net when he tried to head it away to safety.

Matty Blair went close too when he headed wide but then the referee decided it was time to put himself in the spotlight by penalising Michael Briscoe after Andy Mangan almost crushed him as he went crashing into him.  The free kick came to nothing but it set the tone of officialdom for the remainder of the game.

The game continued in a scrappy mode for the next twenty minutes with neither side seeming able to get the ball down on the floor and pass it around.  Head tennis was the way it was going to go.

That was until the half hour mark when the Harriers started to put the pressure on a labouring Wrexham defence, a defence that included former Harrier Mark Creighton.  All we needed to do was keep it on the ground to expose his inability to turn and we'd have them beat.  Matty Blair is the one player that we have capable of doing that and he gave notice when he stormed through their defence and struck a shot that hit the post.  It went back out to Mike Williams but his left footed shot went into the side netting.

The next move of note was the only goal of the game.  Blair again raced into the area but this time a Wrexham defender, Chris Blackburn, ended his run by bringing him down from behind and the ref pointed to the spot and booked Blackburn for his mis-demeanour.

Chris McPhee stepped up to take it and quickly sent it goalwards and the underside of the crossbar.  The ball richotched down and around the net for a winning penalty but not the best you'll ever see taken.

Wrexham tried quickly to get the goal back but Mangans effort from Lee Fowlers cross went wide and the whistle blew for halftime soon after.
  HT: 1 - 0
The second period was not so good for the Harriers.  Wrexham didn't seem to have changed their tactics and were still allowing Matty Blair a free hand in using his pace to good effect but we just didn't seem to be clicking anymore.

The visitors had already made a substitution at the break with Andy Mangan staying in the dressing room and Mathias Pogba taking his place.  It could have been down to Pogba that we didn't seem as good.  He had the pace that Wrexham hadn't had before and he started to give the Harriers defenders a nightmare.

We were also starting to lose out in midfield and to counter that we made our first change of the game and bought on Callum Gittings in place of Nick Wright.  His introduction gave us a wider canvas to play on and it reaped it's first benefit by allowing Keith Briggs the chance play a pass out to Gittings and then to go forward to collect and send in a shot that forced Chris Maxwell into a rare save.

Overall though it was still Wrexham that had the upperhand and at times Danny Lewis's goal was like a siege ground with balls raining in and Wrexhams' forwards trying to get past our solid defence.  We managed to hold on though and finally, after five minutes of added time, we emerged the winners and another three points in the bag.

We now have a week off to re-charge our batteries before we visit Luton for what is another crucial play off game.  Could we win that one too? No reason why not.
  FT: 1 - 0

 Goal for Harriers: McPhee 37 (pen)


The Harriers Online MotM is:

gif Michael Briscoe
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Harriers  subs   cards      Wrexham AFC  subs   cards 
Lewis     Maxwell  
Sharpe   Obeng  
Williams     Ashton
Briscoe     Sinclair  
Shaw   Blackburn gif
Albrighton     Creighton  
Wright gif     Taylor
Briggs     Fowler gif  
Canham gif     Mangan gif  
McPhee     Harris  
Blair gif     Morrell  
SUBS:       SUBS:    
Stevens     McMillan  
Hankin gif     Pogba gif  
Gittings gif     Knight-Percival gif  
Morris     Andrews  
Matt gif     Tolley gif  

REFEREE:
Mr R Merchant
Staffordshire




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