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Date: 09-02-16 gif Venue: Aggborough gif att: 1335 gif away fans: 53
Harriers are off the bottom at last

gif Report: Phil Lench
The Harriers lifted themselves off the foot of the table tonight for the first time since mid November with this brilliantly exciting win at home to high flying (and big spending) Eastleigh.  A goal within the opening minutes by Luke Maxwell set the tone for the rest of the game as it became shoot on sight for the Harriers after months of being shot shy.  With the midfield being ruled by our French trio: Ousmane Fané, Arthur Gnahoua and Elton N'Gwatala it was, at times like watching Chelsea or Arsenal.

Following the win away at Boreham Wood on Saturday many fans that saw that game came back enthusing about the way we played and were expecting more of the same tonight.  With an unchanged side from that game that was what we got with the opening thirty minutes played at 100mph leaving the visitors from Southampton shell shocked.  Upfront they had former Harrier James Constable and he was joined by Matt Tubs who had signed for them on loan earlier in the day.

The first Harriers goal was quick to arrive when new signing Harry White, making his debut at Aggborough, won a fifty fifty ball from Dan Harding and then played it forward to Ben Whitfield to take it towards the Eastleigh goal to shoot.  His shot was blocked but came back out for Luke Maxwell to hammer the ball home from distance into the roof of the net.  The scenes around the ground were un-believable when the goal went in.  During the initial challenge by White the visitors Dan Harding got injured and was replaced by Kaid Mohamed.

We immediately pressed for a second goal and kept pressing the suspect Spitfires defence with N'Gwatala winning everything at the first, second and third attempt.  The man is a little dynamo.

He came close to breaking through and shooting from outside the box on a number of occasions but not quite getting it on target or, when he did, beating the keeper.  Twenty minutes in and Whitfield tried his luck with a run that took defender after defender out but his final shot being too weak.  He also tried his free kick routine with N'Gwatala that worked so well at Boreham Wood but it didn't come off quite so well this time.

Another free kick later on was better and almost reaped benefits when he curved the ball in towards Kelvin Langmead on the far post but he couldn't quite get the angle on the ball and it went just wide.  With a minute left until half time Eastleigh had their first real chance of a goal when Michael Green broke free and tested Dean Snedker but the Harriers keeper was equal to it.

All in all it had been an exciting forty five minutes with end to end football from both sides and some brilliant football from the Latin Quarter.  The only black mark had to go to some roughhouse tactics by Jamie Turley and Will Evans on the French lads but the worst of the bunch, Ben Stevens, escaped a booking even though the other two did.
  HT: 1 - 0
As expected Eastleigh came out for the second half a bit more tighter at the back after being ripped to shreds during the first.  James Constable had the first chance of the half but put his shot wide then another quick break by the Reds saw N'Gwatala take the ball out of the Eastleigh area towards Maxwell.  He then tried to grab his second goal of the night but Michael Poke, in the Spitfires goal, pushed it away but only as far as the lurking Harry White.  In an instant he had rifled the ball home.

The Harriers were two up and cruising.  You should never get too cocky though.

Ten minutes later and the visitors were given a lifeline when a Harriers pass hit an Eastleigh player and deflected towards Joe Partington.  He quickly crossed the ball from the corner flag for Constable to head home at the far post.  What we thought would be a minor setback became more worrying ten minutes later.

With the impetus of getting a goal the visitors began to control the game more and their possession told when a cross into the box from Luke Coulson was allowed to reach Constable all too easily as he fired the ball into the net.  To his credit James didn't celebrate either of his goals through respect to his former fans.  Shame they didn't show him such respect by booing him then.

The game wasn't over yet though and no sooner had our tears began to dry but we had taken the lead once again.  Ben Whitfield had gone down under a challenge on the halfway line and Luke Maxwell took the free kick quickly to play it forward to Arthur Gnahoua who then went on a surging run towards goal before jinking around a defender to slot the ball beyond Poke and put the Harriers into a 3-2 lead.

We sent some fresh legs on with three quick substitutions to see the game out.  Eastleigh came close to getting another equaliser when a dipping Michael Green lob bounced off the top of the crossbar but with four minutes of injury time we managed to hold out for a brilliant win.  Our second in a row and a win that lifts us off the bottom of the table on goal difference although Torquay now have a game in hand.

We face another play off contender on a poor run of form this coming Saturday when Macclesfield come to Aggborough.  Another three points - and it is possible - would see us hopefully nudge that little bit closer to safety.
  FT: 3 - 2

 Goals for Harriers: Maxwell 3, White 52, Gnahoua 74
 Goals for Eastleigh: Constable 61, 69

The Harriers Online MotM is:

gif Elton N'Gwatala

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Harriers  goals   subs   cards      Eastleigh FC  goals   subs   cards 
Snedker     Poke  
Hodgkiss     Partington  
Francis-Angol gif     Green  
Maxwell gif     Evans
Langmead     Turley
Lowe     Harding gif  
Fané   Coulson  
Whitfield     Payne  
White gif gif     Constable gif
N'Gwatala gif     Tubbs  
Gnahoua gif     Strevens  
SUBS:         SUBS:      
Brown     Flitney  
Garnett gif - 85     Reid  
McQuilkin gif - 83     Midson gif - 88  
Williams gif - 76     Lee  
Patrick     Mohamed gif - 6 gif  

Mr A Holmes
W Yorkshire

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