DRAMATIC late scenes saw Harriers let slip a two-goal lead at league leaders AFC Fylde, a frantic game finishing with a flurry of goals and red cards.
Harriers made just one change to the starting eleven that so convincingly swept Alfreton Town aside one week prior, with a recall for fit-again Elton Ngwatala after a spell out with a shoulder injury – an unfortunate demotion to the bench for goal-scorer from the previous game, Liam Truslove.
There was another surprise as the teams were announced as striker Mani Dieseruvwe was a notable absentee from the Harriers squad having wrapped up a loan move to Boston United the previous evening.
With the home side eleven points clear at kick-off and with the onus very much on John Eustace’s men to attack, there was no surprise to see them make the best of the early running and create the first chances of the day, Keith Lowe heading an effort just wide of the target before Sam Austin, with a low shot, forced Rhys Taylor to turn a volley around the foot of the post.
Taylor would be kept busy – with less than 20 minutes on the clock he extended himself again to keep out a Lowe flick header, while also watching an Ngwatala drive fly wide just after.
The visitors, contrary to recent weeks, would gain a reward to a good start when, with 25 gone, they took the lead through Ryan Croasdale; the midfielder’s low shot arrowing into the bottom corner as he stayed alive after a blocked effort in the area.
Just over ten minutes later it was 2-0; Austin had no sooner fired an effort over the bar than his captain smashed the ball into the back of the net after Nti nodded down McQuilkin’s free-kick.
After the break, Hornby was alert to hold a couple of half chances as Flyde looked to respond, while Harriers made their first change of the day in introducing Ashley Carter in place of a returning Ngwatala.
Harriers soaked up plenty of pressure in the second half and, on the break, went within inches of notching a third goal on 75 minutes when Fylde’s Hughes almost turned the ball into his own net as he stretched for a clearance.
Fylde got a goal back as we entered the last ten minutes – Lowe looked to find Hornby with a pass but underhit it, leaving Dan Bradley to race on to it and work it past his man, thumping it past Hornby and into the net.
The drama would far from finish there; before the close there would be three red cards issued as Harriers finished with nine and Fylde ten; straight reds all around as Carter was adjudged to have fouled Finley late, while Finley would then be walked alongside Waite as the two sets of players clashed.
Harriers tried to hang on but the hammer blow came in injury time as Blinkhorn nodded a header past Hornby.
HARRIERS: Hornby, Ezewele, Francis-Angol, Lowe, Tunnicliffe, Croasdale, Ngwatala (Carter 61), McQuikin, Nti (Williams 78), Waite, Austin (Brown 70).
Subs not used: Knights, Truslove, Referee: Steven Copeland