Gritty Harriers in seventh heaven

Jamille Matt bagged the game's only goal

Jamille Matt bagged the game's only goal

First published in Conference Premier

Hereford 0, Harriers 1

GRITTY Harriers saw off derby rivals Hereford to make it seven wins in row and lift themselves into the Blue Square Bet Premier play-off spots on Boxing Day.

Jamille Matt's sixth minute strike proved to be the difference in a hard fought game, which had been in doubt because of torrential rain.

Victory raised Steve Burr's battlers to fifth in the table.

They received an injury boost ahead of their much-anticipated derby clash as defender Josh Gowling recovered from a thigh injury.

The home side had the first shot on goal but Will Evans' 20-yard effort flew over the bar in the second minute.

But the away side opened the scoring in the sixth minute.  Kyle Storer's corner fell to Matt and the striker slotted a low shot beyond keeper James Bittner into the bottom near corner.

Harriers looked composed and confident on the ball but the Bulls posed a threat from set-pieces and winger Marley Watkins's trickery and pace also troubled the away defence.

The winger teed up former Harriers wideman Brian Smikle but keeper Danny Lewis tipped his rising shot over the bar.

Meanwhile, hard working midfield general Keith Briggs saw several shots come to nothing for Harriers.

Hereford keeper Bittner needed a bandage to the head after picking up an injury when Gowling challenged him in the air at a corner.

Lewis needed to be alert near the end of the first half, showing razor sharp reactions to beat away the ball after it had cannoned off Chey Dunkley following incisive play by Watkins.

The impressive Storer was shown a yellow card for a slightly late challenge on Sam Clucas early in the second half. Hereford's Harry Pell was also booked following a melee.

Danger man Watkins nearly found the leveller in the 57th minute. He raced onto Smikle's pass and slammed in a fine rising shot which smashed off the corner of the upright to safety.

But Harriers grew in confidence as the half wore on and Malbon fired a good chance over the bar.

Dunkley was then booked for a challenge in Bulls substitute Andy Gallinagh as he drove forward.

Hereford were pushing for a leveller and Phil Marsh set up Smikle but Dunkley bravely dived to block the shot.

But the away team held on to record a memorable and vital derby win.

Harriers: Lewis 7, Vaughan 7, Demetriou 7, STORER 8, Vincent 7, Malbon 7 (Rowe, 87), Shakes 6 (Clancy, 92), Matt 6 (Blissett, 84), Briggs 7, Dunkley 7, Gowling 7.

Subs not used: Williams, Vaughan.

Hereford: Bittner, Heath, Pell, Townsend (Gallinagh, 70, (Marsh, 77), Graham, Watkins, Stam, Evans, Clucas, Smikle, Perry (O'Keefe, 69).

Subs not used: McQuilkin, Hackney.

Referee: Brett Huxtable.

Referee: 2,902 (755)

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