Defences Absent In Goal-Fest: Harriers 5-4 Blyth Spartans
Defending was thrown out of the window as Harriers came out on top in a nine-goal thriller with Blyth at Aggborough.
Harriers made two changes to the team that had knocked Deeping Rangers out of the FA Cup the previous week with skipper Ryan Croasdale and James McQuilkin returning in place of Declan Weeks and Sam Austin.
There was a great start to the game for Harriers who took the lead after just three minutes; Joel Taylor received the ball on the left, moved it inside to Andre Brown who switched the play to Joe Ironside on the right and then advanced to take the return and sweep it past Peter Jameson in the Blyth goal. Harriers should have doubled their lead on 134 minutes when Manny Sonupe made a mazy run into the penalty area, his shot was blocked and hit Ironside who didn't know much about it and Jameson was able to save.
Three minutes later Blyth drew level; the ball was switched from the left of the field to the right to Dale Hopson who took it wide of Brandon Hall and slotted home from close range. Just a couple of minutes afterwards the visitors took the lead; Harriers failed to clear a corner from the right and the ball fell to Davie McTiernan who drilled it through a crowd of players.
A crazy first half saw its fourth goal after 23 minutes when Harriers equalised; McQuilkin's corner from the left found James Pearson beyond the far post who scored with a measured header past Jameson to record his first goal for the club. Spartans hit back moments later, though, and restored their lead when McTiernan turned in Adam Wrightson's cross following a good passing move on the right.
Before the break Blyth could have increased their lead further when Hopson's free-kick from the right picked out Sean Reid at the far post but he headed over.
Harriers needed just eleven minutes to draw level after the interval; Sonupe was fouled in the penalty area by Nathan Buddle and was awarded a penalty. Sonupe himself took the spot-kick and blasted it high to Jameson's left, sending the keeper the wrong way to notch his seventh goal of the season.
Two minutes later Harriers took the lead for the second time; Taylor's corner from the right dropped invitingly for Pearson who hadn't been picked up by the visiting defence and powered another header into the back of the net. Just past the hour the home side could have gone further ahead when Taylor's cross from the right found Brown but his shot at the near post was saved and then cleared.
Dan Bradley, returning from injury as a half-time substitute, had the opportunity to add to Harriers' lead 18 minutes from the end racing on to Croasdale's through ball but seeing his shot smothered by Jameson.
Harriers looked to have made the game safe in the 78th minute when Andre Wright headed in from close range after Tyrone Williams had got his head to Taylor's corner from the left. The entertainment was not done, yet, however, as with six minutes a missed challenge by Taylor let in Danny Maguire who ran clear on the right but had his shot saved by Hall.
Blyth then pulled a goal back with four minutes remaining; Fraser Horsfall headed clear from McTiernan's cross but he ball fell to Hopson 25 yards out who fired in a low shot that deceived Hall coming through a crowd of legs.