Matt strike cuts down Poppies

First published in Harriers

Kettering 0
Harriers 1

HARRIERS maintained their excellent away form as they edged out fired-up Kettering at Nene Park on Saturday.

Steve Burr's troops overcame a spirited Poppies performance and the blistering heat to take all three points, thanks to Jamille Matt's first half strike.

It was their fifth away win in seven Blue Square Bet Premier games and lifted Harriers to fifth-place.

Harriers had their chances to extend their lead but were also indebted to stand-in keeper Dean Lyness, who produced one fine save on a more than satisfying Harriers debut.

Harriers boss Burr was forced to make two changes to his starting line-up.

With first choice keeper Danny Lewis injured with a knee problem, back-up shot-stopper Lyness was handed his Harriers debut in the Conference.

Scott Phelan returned to midfield for the suspended Kyle Storer.

It was much-changed Kettering, looking to make amends for their 5-3 home loss to Hayes and Yeading, who started well and took the game to the Reds.

Steven Meechan saw a fine effort fly a fraction over the bar in the first minute.

Lyness was looking unruffled on his debut and he would have given Harriers defence a confidence boost when taking a swirling Ben Smith cross.

The 20-year-old keeper also held a rasping effort from Kiernan Hughes-Mason.

Harriers though started to get into their stride and Jack Byrne's right-footed drive was tipped away by keeper Laurie Walker as it arrowed towards the top right corner.

Lyness was called into action in the 32nd minute, diving onto Smith's shot from a tight angle after the Kettering man had made a clever run into the box.

Phelan nearly fired Harriers ahead. Luke Medley's cross wasn't cleared properly and the former Halifax midfielder fired wide from the edge of the box.

The away side were also denied a penalty when Stephan O'Leary handled Medley's cross in the box but the referee gave the visitors a corner instead.

But fine work by Byrne helped Harriers take the lead in the 43rd minute. The midfielder won the ball near the centre circle and drove forward and then released Matt with a lofted pass.

The powerful centre forward brushed off John Dempster and lashed a left-footed shot into the back of the net.

Harriers nearly had a second goal early in the second half.

Poppies keeper Walker had conceded a corner when he was caught out by a pacey Marcus Kelly back pass, but he made up for his error from the set-piece, doing well to get a hand to Medley's stinging drive.

Lyness ensured Harriers' lead was intact on the hour mark when he blocked Keirnan Hughes-Mason's shot at at his near post.

At the other end of the pitch, Walker produced more heroics, diving to his left to turn Wright's shot behind after good play by Lee Vaughan and Callum Gittings to set him up.

With Harriers' lead only slender, the visitors had to withstand some pressure from spirited Kettering. Centre back Luke Jones, who needed his shorts replaced in the first half, had to head over his own bar after a fine run by Hughes-Mason.

Adam Cunnington drove in from the left but the Kettering hitman's shot canonned off a defender to go behind for a corner, but the away side held on for the win.

Harriers: Lyness; Vaughan; Mike Williams; Jones; Sharpe; Byrne; Phelan (Vincent, 54); Medley; Nick Wright (Marc Williams, 63); Gittings; Matt (T Wright, 76).

Unused substitutes: Demetriou; Briscoe.

Kettering: Walker; Sangare; Kelly; Meechan; Koo-Boothe (Taft, 50); Navarro; (Noubissie, 69) Cunnington; Dempster; Dempster; Ben Smith; Hughes-Mason (Cross, 84); O'Leary.

Unused substitutes: Dance; Haxia.

Referee: Kevin Johnson. Attendance: 1,301 (144)

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