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First Blood To Harriers: Chorley 0-1 Harriers
May 3, 2017

First Blood To Harriers: Chorley 0-1 Harriers

Harriers will take a slender one-goal lead into Sunday's second leg thanks to a wonder-strike from Arthur Gnahoua.

Despite dominating possession for long periods of the game Harriers had to be patient to find the breakthrough against a stubborn Magpies defence on a terrible playing surface.

Showing three changes to the side that had beaten Bradford Park Avenue in the final league game - Jared Hodgkiss, James McQuilkin and Andre Brown all coming in - Harriers were quick out of the blocks and soon were in control of the game.

A Keith Lowe overhead kick at a corner was the closest that they came to opening the scoring in the first quarter of an hour, though.  Another corner, taken by McQuilkin on the right, nearly forced the breakthrough on 19 minutes, his flag-kick finding Jordan Tunnicliffe who headed against the bar.

At the other end Adam Blakeman forced Sam Hornby into action with a free-kick from 25 yards or more out; the keeper diving to his right to save at the foot of the post.

After the break the home team had more purpose and put Harriers under more pressure, forcing the visiting defence to play safety-first and punt plenty of clearances out of the ground rather than passing back to Hornby and putting him under unnecessary pressure.

Just past the hour Harriers went close to opening the scoring again; Brown chased down a ball through the inside-right channel, finding Hodgkiss making an overlap.  His low cross to the near post found Joe Ironside whose shot on the turn was blocked and went out for a corner.  From that McQuilkin corner from the left Ironside's far post header was cleared off the line by Jason Walker.

With 14 minutes left Harriers finally took the lead; a sliced clearance, high into the air, was brought down wonderfully by Gnahoua wh then turned to create space for himself before advancing past two defenders and hitting a rising, curling, drive from 25 yards into the top corner that gave home keeper Ritchie Branagan no chance.

Chorley threw everything forward and in stoppage time had a chance to level; a throw in from the right was flicked on at the near post to Dale Witham who blasted his shot over the bar.

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