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Harriers 3 Newport County 2

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Date: 09-04-12gif Venue: Aggboroughgif att: 2275gif away fans: 366
A Nick Wright whirlwind buries brave Newport

gifReport by Harry Taylor
It was apt that in the season of miracles the Gods smiled upon the Harriers at Aggborough and yet another miracle occurred as we overturned a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2 in the last ten minutes.  This game was the first of four key clashes in the run-in as we faced FA Trophy finalists Newport County.

It was an unchanged line-up from the one that won in the last minute against Southport on Saturday.  In-form striker Anthony Malbon started up front alongside Steve Guinan and hoped to continue his fantastic scoring form of late.  'The Exiles', or 'Harriers Exiles' as they could've been named in recent years with the amount of former Harriers in their side, had Sam Foley and Lee Baker in their ranks and the former scored a cracking goal that looked to have buried the Harriers play-off ambitions.

It was a goal that may have been the quickest in the English 3pm kickoffs today when Newport took the lead after a defensive mis-communication and downright cock-up between centre half Luke Jones and goalkeeper Tony Breeden.

Newport kicked off and hoofed the ball towards the Harriers goal and Jones needlessly attempted to head the ball back to Breeden, but, with the torrents of rain that had descended overnight Breeden hadn't had time to judge the bounce of the ball and as it skipped along the turf he tried to prevent it going out for a corner but couldn't get his hands firmly on it.  With Jones unwilling to attempt to take any responsibility Jake Reid ran though and nicked the ball from Breeden and was left with an easy tap-in to put them ahead within mere seconds of the start.

The Harriers were shell shocked by the early goal and the fantastic Newport support started to sing up and gave their side the momentum.  The home side had very few chances with anything good that did happen came via the quick feet of Marvin 'Magic' Johnson who was a threat all afternoon down the left flank.  Any corners won were inevitably wasted as the short corner routine seemed to persist without ever looking threatening as inevitably the corners failed to beat the first man, usually the fantastic Lee Minshull who broke up the play all afternoon for Newport.

The away side, who still technically can be relegated, notched a second goal following the fancy footwork of ex-Harrier Sam Foley.  He picked up the ball from deep and ran at Tom Marshall with real guile, not giving any clues as to which way he was going, and so not making it easy for Marshall to make a challenge.  Eventually, around twenty yards from goal, he decided to place the ball to the right of Breeden who didn't even dive to attempt to save the ball.

Minshull then hit the bar with a good back-header following a corner to thoroughly put the frighteners on the Harriers.

At half time, although results were by and large going in favour of the Harriers, our play-off chances looked very much in doubt following a performance that was, quite frankly, dire and in much need of drastic improvement.
  HT: 0 - 2
It seemed as though Steve Burr had given the players the hair-dryer treatment as even the substitutes didn't appear to warm up until five minutes before the second half commenced.

Jack Byrne was the first to show any signs of a revival with a good shot that missed, but was more a warning shot and a signal of intentions rather than a legitimate threat to Karl Darlow's goal.

Nick Wright The Harriers didn't look remotely like scoring and getting back into the game and it wasn't until Burr started to ring the changes by bringing on Ryan Rowe, Nick Wright (left) and Dan Bradley that we started to look menacing.  Wright immediately showed initiative, wanted the ball and had good touch but I doubt anybody, including myself, could have envisaged what would have happened come ninety minutes.

Ten minutes from time, following a Johnson cross from the right, James Vincent powered a header at goal and, with David Seaman style reactions, Darlow kept the ball out with a fantastic save and one that at the time looked as though it may have kept them in the game.  The momentum was building and culminated in a goal back for the home side.

Lee Vaughan picked up the ball via a throw-in, played a one two with a fantastic touch by Rowe, and then powered into the box only to be taken down by Elliot Buchanan.  Wright picked up the ball and continued his good penalty-scoring form by slotting it into the bottom right corner.

Game on.

Minutes later the board went up: five minutes of added time and the Harriers had at last woken up and start to get some momentum.  Rowe again proved dangerous by firing a ball across the area to Wright who, despite having someone to the left of him, shot past Darlow into the top corner of the goal.

Harriers were level at last.  It was a reflection of Wright in that we have seen him before pass the ball when in a goalscoring position rather than shoot and this proved that he can score goals and will hopefully take confidence from it.

A point, good enough to keep in touch with the play-off places, hopes and dreams.  But not good enough for Burr and the Harriers side.

With the fans seemingly content with the draw, and the Newport fans wondering how their three points and suddenly changed to a paltry one, Rowe and Bradley combined to set up Wright who rose like Christ to put the ball into the top corner and cue mad celebrations from the Harriers fans and something literally unthinkable ten minutes previously.

The Harriers had done the unthinkable and had come back from the dead with a whirlwind of goals from the oft maligned Nick Wright to score our first hat trick of the season.

Next at Aggborough are doomed and troubled side, Kettering Town.  We need to be better from the off in order to continue our play-off push because although we have had a bounty of late, late goals this season it's something that cannot be relied upon.  Seasons past we have seen sides like Wrexham turn up the heat in the last ten minutes but have found the Harriers defence impregnable.  Sooner or later if we rely on the late ten-minutes tactic we will come up against a defence like ours from seasons past and will not be able to beat them.

My man of the match has got to be the superb Nick Wright.  Personally it has always been known I am an advocate of his.  Quick with an eye for goal and he can also see a good pass.  Inconsistent he is at times but equally he is a goalscorer, he is our top-goalscorer afterall.

I have professed for a while that to be effective he needs to play on the shoulder of the last defender as he did today with great effect.  This needs to be done against Kettering and after today I hope so.  I recall in a previous match report my saying that Nick Wright's time had come and after today hopefully his detractors will sit up and give the guy a chance to reproduce what he did today.
  FT: 3 - 2

 Goals for Harriers: N Wright 86 (pen), 90, 90+2
 Goals for Newport: Reid 11 seconds, Foley 37


Harrys MotM is:

gif Nick Wright



gif Report by Arno Bryant & Steve Williams
Nick Wright took the term super-sub to a new level today when he broke Newport hearts with a hat-trick in the dying moments at Aggborough.

The game didn't start brilliantly though for the Reds after they found themselves 1-0 down when the game was only eleven seconds old.  A ball was fired forwards from Newport after their kick-off and Luke Jones, who was hoping to forget last Saturday's defensive howler, helped make another.  Miscommunication between him and goalkeeper Tony Breeden meant his header back to the stopper didn't quite go smoothly and after keeping it in it squirmed out of the keepers grip and Breeden could only watch as County's Jake Reid took the ball and passed it into an empty net.

The Harriers then looked to find an equaliser, firstly through bad boy Jones, but his header was only inches from going in after a good cross from Marvin Johnson.  The Reds also came close from Dave Hankin with his cross causing havoc but the County 'keeper and ex Harrier Lee Baker dealt with it well.

It was another Harriers old boy that caused trouble again though as, after thirty seven minutes, Sam Foley scored.  He received the ball around the half way line and ran through the entire defence including Tom Marshall, who was rushing back, seemingly scared to put in the tackle.  Foley found himself gifted a good position to strike and did so past a statuesque Breeden for another easy goal for the visitors and frustration for the home team.

It could've been curtains for the Reds too at half-time after more poor defending allowed Lee Minshull to get a header in with his effort hitting the bar.  This hadn't been the kind of performance thee fans had been expecting following recent results but maybe we would see better in the second half.
  HT: 0 - 2
The Harriers came out much better in the second half, in respect to the fact they actually wanted it, but couldn't get a real shot on goal until a long range effort from Lee Vaughan ten minutes in.  It was comfortably held by Karl Darlow, the man between the County sticks.

Nothing was really happening with the extra Harriers guile though so the Harriers manager, Steve Burr entered Nick Wright, Ryan Rowe and later Dan Bradley into the frame.

Nick Wright Wright had a chance to get one back for the Harriers with twenty minutes to go after a Marvin Johnson cross.  The sub got just enough on it to convert it goal ward, but not enough to put it on target, and it sailed just wide.  Bradley had a chance to do the same soon after but his effort from distance didn't trouble Darlow.

With eleven minutes to go James Vincent must have been wondering how he didn't score, after a header that was nailed on to go in, but Darlow somehow managed to reach it and claw it away.  An absolute top draw save from the County keeper.

The Reds must have been think it was not their day with just ten minutes to go but you can never forget Nick Wright (right).  His first goal came after Lee Vaughan was pushed over in the box and Nick claimed the right to take the resulting penalty.  He coolly sent the 'keeper the wrong way and put the Reds one goal behind with four minutes to go.

Five minutes of added time was awarded after various treatments for County players over the half and with the goal and the extra time the Harriers fans spirits were lifted and we started to urge the team on in search of the second goal.  We would have been grateful for a point.  The ball found Ryan Rowe and he managed to squirm the ball to Wright who turned and shot to level the scores.

This sent the fans crazy and they couldn't believe it, a late point for the promotion chasing Reds.  We wanted more and urged the team on even further and amazingly we got the winner they perhaps, for their performance before the eighty minute mark, didn't deserve.

It was that man Nick Wright again who completed his hat-trick by slamming the ball into the net once more after receiving it from Ryan Rowe again, via a mistake from Darlow.

It was an unbelievable comeback but it has left the Reds fans with a few questions.  This seems to be more than luck but can we play like this and beat the others?  It did seem like the players thought a play-off spot was a sure thing in the first half and weren't expecting Newport to actually want to come here and score.  Perhaps this is just our year, it was unlucky for Newport, but we're in the play-offs and getting the results.

Our Man of the Match has got to be Nick Wright (we didn't have it in us to pick anyone else)
  FT: 3 - 2

 Goals for Harriers: N Wright 86 (pen), 90, 90+2
 Goals for Newport: Reid 11 seconds, Foley 37


Arno & Steves MotM is:

gif Nick Wright


Photo © KHFC

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Harriers  subs   cards      Newport County  subs   cards 
Breeden     Darlow  
L Vaughan     Hughes  
Mike Williams     Baker gif
Jones   Pipe  
Marshall     Minshull  
Byrne gif     Yakubu  
Hankin gif     Charles  
Vincent   Rose gif
Guinan gif     Porter  
Malbon     Foley  
Johnson     Reid gif  
SUBS:       SUBS:    
Lyness     Thompson  
Rowe gif     Rodgers gif  
Demetriou     Evans  
N Wright gif     Buchanan gif  
Bradley gif     Jarvis gif  

REFEREE:
Mr S Martin
Staffordshire




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