Sleepy Harriers Nearly Throw Away Win: Harriers 3-2 Curzon Ashton
Sloppy defending from Harriers almost cost them a comfortable win as they allowed Curzon a late fight-back.
Harriers had raced into an early commanding lead and looked to have the game sewn up but didn't press home their advantage, giving their visitors hope and almost allowing them to snatch a point.
Just 75 seconds were on the clock when Darryl Knights received a ball from the left wing and helped it on to James McQuilkin who made space for himself before drilling his shot past Hakan Burton in the Curzon goal. Four minutes later Elton Ngwatala's deep pass split the visiting defence wide open for Andre Brown to race in on goal, Burton made a half block but the striker was able to pounce on the loose ball and fire it into the unguarded net.
Earlier in the season Harriers had blown away Curzon in the first meeting of the clubs, taking a five-goal lead by the interval, and the Northerners must have feared the same thing was going to happen to them when McQuilkin swept in Josh Ezewele's deflected left-wing cross with just 13 minutes on the clock.
Harriers were rampant at this stage and leading scorer Arthur Gnahoua fired over the bar from 20 yards after being allowed an unchallenged run through the middle of the visiting defence. The same player went close again following a mzy run that ended with his shot taking a deflection off a defender and going away from goal.
Burton made a good double save to keep the score down in the last minute of the half; McQuilkin's run and pass from the inside-right channel found Brown who had his shot parried, Knights followed up only to see his effort saved, too.
After the break Curzon were more resolute in their defending and limited Harriers' chances of increasing thier advantage until the hour mark when Tyrone Williams, making his 50th appearance for the club, was allowed to run from inside his own half through the middle of the field to the inside-left position only to see his low shot saved by Burton.
With fifteen minutes remaining Curzon pulled a goal back; Ryan Hall racing on to a through ball on the right before sliding his shot under the advancing Alex Palmer. At this point it appeared nothing more than a consolation but nine minutes from time the visitors pulled another back to set up a tense finish; Matthew Warburton cut in from the left and shot low towards the far post, Palmer parried the shot but only into the path of Jordan Wright who had an easy task to fire in from close range.
The visitors should have grabbed an equaliser shortly afterwards, substitute Wright's pass set Joe Guest free on the left his cross to the far post found James Baillie but he managed to head wide with the goal at his mercy.
Harriers held on to take the points, recording their tenth consecutive home win, and with results elsewhere going in their favour discovered that they can take the league title if they win all of their remaining fixtures.