Penny (OG) 11
Sterling 30, Hemmings 43, Austin 86
A SUPERB second-half showing saw Harriers pick up a deserved 3-1 win at Darlington on Saturday.
After suffering the blow of again going behind in a game, the Reds showed great character to not only turn the match on its head, but to dominate it. Superb goals from Omari Sterling, Ash Hemmings and Sam Austin put Harriers in a strong position before a solid and efficient showing ensured there was never a sniff of a home comeback.
The assurance and confidence with which the win was secured is only the more impressive given that the home side were very much the better team for the first 25 minutes or so. Not only were they ahead through an own goal – Alex Penny unwittingly clearing the ball into his own net – but could well have been several goals ahead, but some missed chances and good goalkeeping from Luke Simpson ensured they remained very much in reach.
The equaliser and the moment on which the game ultimately turned came on 30 minutes. There seemed to be little on for Sterling as he picked up the ball midway into the Darlo half – a false sense of security likely doing for the home side, too, as they stood stunned in watching the ball fire past their goalkeeper from 30 yards and into the net.
That gave Harriers the confidence to keep the ball more and to ask questions of their hosts – a decisive, incisive move before the break putting the Reds ahead when Austin played in Hemmings who timed his run to perfection before volleying home.
There was a blow for Harriers on the hour as they lost Hemmings after Wheatley needlessly left his mark on the marksman, but even in his absence, Russ Penn’s men remained a threat at one end and solid at the other – goalkeeper Saltmer kept busy as he pulled off good saves to prevent Austin and Sterling from adding to the score.
There was nothing he could do, however, to stop the third and final goal of the day – as the visitors battled to keep the ball in Darlington’s final third, the ball ran free for Austin some 20 yards out, and he strode on to it and hit it first time, the ball sailing into the top corner for the player’s second of the season.
It was the ideal to way to round off a trying first week of the season for Harriers, who now have that crucial first three points on the board.
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