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Date: 17-12-16 gif Venue: Aggborough gif att: 1710 gif away fans: 159
Harriers battle to get the points off Darlington

gif Report: Phil Lench
The Harriers kept up the pressure on AFC Fylde with this hard fought win at home to a very strong Darlington side.  With this being the first of the return fixtures this season, and the fact that Darlo aren't too far behind us in the table, then it was important to get the win and build up a bit of a gap.

With Ryan Croasdale back in the side, following the arrival of his first born, it was back to our usual starting line-up.  On the bench it was 'as you were' in recent weeks with Darryl Knights seated there again.  In the Darlington side was Josh Gillies who was impressive with Gateshead last season and also his ex-team mate Phil Turnbull.

As is the way in our games of late the opposition started the game at whirlwind pace to give the impression that they think that by going for an early goal they can then hang on for the remainder of the ninety minutes.  Not always the case because we soon take command.  This time it didn't quite work out that way with us hardly getting a touch of the ball, and not even out of our own half, before the first goal came in the sixth minute.  Also against the trend it went the visitors way.

Darlington had already given notice of intent when Keith Lowe cleared a Darlo shot off the line following a high ball over the top and then when the ball was played out wide, and high again, to Mark Beck he then played in Josh Gillies to turn in a moment of skill and leave Jordan Tunnicliffe for dead.  His cross into the area was met by Dave Syers sliding in to put the ball past Sam Hornby in the Reds goal.

With the crowd thinking that we we need to retaliate pretty quickly after that killer goal it was amazing what followed next.

From the re-start the ball was played quickly to Elton N'Gwatala who then played a splitting throughball to James McQuilkin.  He ran through their defence with ease and, with his eye on a goal, fired across the keeper but hit the upright.  Thankfully Tyrell Waite was waiting to pounce on any scraps and fired the ball into the roof of the net just a minute after going a goal down.

The provider of the goal, Elton, then found himself lucky to be still on the pitch when he went in too hard on Syers and left him rolling on the ground.  The referee (a very poor example may I add) immediately reached for his pocket but could only find the yellow one in there.  After that Elton was on thin ice and became a target of the Darlington defenders for the remainder of his time on the pitch.  The card made it his fith booking of the season and he'll now miss the Boxing Day game against Worcester City.

That incident also sparked a ten minute spell of badness from both sides with needless shirt pulling and fouling.  The ref had lost control by then and it could have got worse if it wasn't for the players themselves that called a truce and began to play football once more.

With the whirlwind effect now over the game settled down before the break and the Harriers had the best chances of the last fifteen minutes with Arthur Gnahoua, having a quiet game, sending a header just wide and then a shot that didn't quite fizz over the bar.

Seconds before the break it was heart in mouth time when Beck saw Hornby off his line and tried to lob the ball over him.  The hushed fans watched as it slowly made its way over.  Then dropped.  Then onto the top of the netting behind the crossbar.  Phew!
  HT: 1 - 2
The second period started again with Darlington getting most of the ball but this time we were stronger at the back and kept them at a safe distance from the goal.  It was McQuilkin who was to get the first real chance of the second half when we were awarded a free kick outside the area but he fired the ball too low and their tall players didn't need to jump very far to see it safely dealt with.  Darlington seemed to be getting more than their fair share of free kicks but not having much luck with them.  Most were taken by Gillies and all of them were charged down by our defensive wall.

The game was getting bogged down a little and the referees antics weren't allowing to let the game flow at all.  The culmination of that was when N'Gwatala found himself sandwiched between two players and the victim of an elbow in the chest.  He went down clutching said chest and all the ref did was tell him to get up and then waved play on.  A few seconds later he could see there was a problem and halted play but only to give Elton a final warning even though he was obviously injured.

It would have been a good time for the management team to remove him from the field of play because he was heading, fairly or not, for a second yellow card.  Instead Sam Austin came on for Tyrell Waite and straight away we got our second goal.

A free kick, quite a distance from goal, was put over to the far post by McQuilkin, into a crowd of players and there was 'The Grandmaster' Keith Lowe soaring high to nod the ball down into the net.  His second goal in two games.

A minute later and we had the chance of a third, and clinching, goal.  Mani Dieseruvwe, on earlier for Andre Brown, burst into the area following a through ball from Elton but then found himself sprawling across the ground as he was bought down in a last ditch attempt to stop him.  Without Waite on the pitch to take the penalty (thankfully because he missed the last one) Elton stepped up to take it and promptly copied Waites example to a tee and rolled the ball towards the waiting keeper to drop down and collect easily.  When are we ever going to appoint a proper penalty taker?

That miss gave Darlington new impetus and for the final ten minutes of the game they launched wave after wave of attacks on our goal but Sam Hornby was imperious as ever and one save that he made was truly world class after the ball pinged around the area and finally headed goalwards.  The space between the header of the ball and Sam was no more than two feet but somehow he flung his hands up to palm the ball away for clearance up the pitch.

From somewhere five minutes extra time was magicked and then played out with sweaty palms.  Thankfully we held on and the points were ours.

The thinking was that a win today and AFC Fylde playing at Gloucester that they could easily come a cropper but as always that isn't the case and once more Fylde ran riot and put five goals past City.  One day they will crack a little and we have to be ready.  With a result like todays then we already look to be.
  FT: 2 - 2

 Goals for Harriers: Waite 7, Lowe 76
 Goal for Darlington: Syers 6


The Harriers Online MotM is:

gif Sam Hornby



Talk about the game here  
Latest table and stats here  

Harriers  goals   subs   cards      Darlington FC  goals   subs   cards 
Hornby     Jameson  
Williams     Marrs  
Francis-Angol     Galbraith  
Croasdale     Turnbull  
Lowe gif   Burgess  
Tunnicliffe     G Brown  
Waite gif gif   Syers gif gif
McQuilkin     Scott  
A Brown gif     Beck  
N'Gwatala gif   Thompson  
Gnahoua     Gillies  
SUBS:         SUBS:      
Dieseruvwe gif - 64     Bell  
Truslove     Cartman  
Austin gif - 64     Hunter  
Knights     Hardy gif - 62  
Carter gif - 85     Falkingham  

REFEREE:
Mr R Massey-Ellis
Birmingham




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