|Venue: Aggborough Date: 03-02-24 Harriers 3 Oxford City 2 Att: 3298 (away fans: 49)
The remarkable escape from relegation is most definitely on
Report: Tony the Scout
Harriers made it four wins in four under Phil Brown’s management as Worcestershire’s finest came back from two goals down to take the three points against fellow relegation threatened Oxford City in an emotional rollercoaster at Aggborough.
Brown made one change to his side following the 1-0 win at Dagenham & Redbridge last weekend. Sam Bellis returning back from injury and starting, with Gold Omotayo dropping to the bench. Midfielder Kai Lissimore (injured) was the player omitted from the sixteen in favour of the on loan Barrow AFC forward.
You could smell the confidence in the busy stands in and around the ground as Harriers went into this relegation six pointer on the back of three wins. However the first half performance was one of the worst of the season as Harriers found themselves 2-0 down at the break against an Oxford side who won all their battles across the park against a lacklustre Kidderminster.
The first chance of the game fell to the visitors and it ended up in the back of Christian Dibbles net. City striker Josh Parker, a thorn in the Harriers defence for the first forty five minutes, heading home at the far post from a right wing cross. Harriers struggled to get into any rhythm as City continued to dominate, winning first and second balls all over the park. It got worse for the hosts as defender Matt Preston went down after a 50-50 with Parker and went off injured, Aaron Harper-Bailey coming off the bench to make his first appearance since joining two weeks ago on loan from West Bromwich Albion.
Manager Phil Brown was then sent to the stands moments later by referee Gary Parsons, which looked to be for dissent. The referee continued to endear himself to the huge majority of the 3,300 crowd on forty three minutes as Parker went down like a sack of spuds under the attention from Alex Penny.
To everyone’s disbelief, the referee pointed to the spot. Harriers keeper Dibble found himself in the book for dissent before picking the ball up out of his net for a second time as Parker confidently dispatched his penalty into the bottom right hand corner, sending Dibble the wrong way. Mitchell Roberts then went into the book for a foul on Jack Lambert as the half drew to a close.
HT: 0 – 2
In the second half Harriers came out with more purpose, with Oxford seemingly happy to sit back and catch Harriers on the counter with the hosts piling men forward.
On fifty seven minutes the hosts hauled themselves back into the game in, again, controversial circumstances. Amari Morgan-Smith collected a pass inside the area from Lambert. The visitors defenders arms raised, waiting for the linesman’s flag like most in the ground were expecting. Credit to Morgan-Smith, he played to the whistle brilliantly and thrashed a powerful left footed shot off the underside of the bar and into the the back of the net.
On the hour mark Harriers bought on Gold Omotayo for Sam Bellis and it was the recent signing from AFC Fylde who found himself in goal mouth action, his goal bound header forcing a brilliant save from visiting keeper Marcin Brzozowski. The loose ball found its way to Morgan-Smith who’s shot was saved, only to fall in front of Jack Lambert who made no mistake inside the six yard box to bring the hosts level for his first goal in Harriers colours.
With seventy four minutes gone and Aggborough is rocking again and sensing victory. Four minutes later the stadium erupted as Caleb Richards left wing cross was headed home by substitute Omotayo as Harriers staged another come back at home.
Harriers then controlled the rest of the proceedings and the visitors frustration showed when Andre Burley was booked for a foul on Lambert. Krystian Pearce came on for the eight minutes of injury time, replacing Ashley Hemmings, as Harriers saw the game out to the relief and joy of the huge majority of the 3,300 crowd inside Aggborough.
The result moves Harriers up two places to 21st, level on points with Fylde who stay above Harriers on goal difference. Having been far adrift when ex Hull City manager Brown was appointed, Harriers now find themselves just two points off 17th placed Southend Utd.
The remarkable escape from relegation is most definitely on.
FT: 3 – 2
Goals for Oxford City: Parker 17, 44 (pen)
The Harriers Online MotM is: Jack Lambert
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|Mr Gary Parsons