Southport 1
Harriers 2

MATCH-winner Luke Jones earned his luck as he turned from zero to hero in Saturday’s hard-fought win on Merseyside.

Jones suffered agony when his error allowed play-off rivals Southport to take the lead and then ecstasy in injury-time as he forced a dramatic, if a little flukey, winner.

There was an element of luck to the winner when the ball hit the reliable centre back and flew into the back of the net.

But Harriers, and their inspired defender, deserved it for their desire and determination to bag all three points.

Harriers' habit of falling behind has added an extra element of danger as they strive for promotion in the Blue Square Bet Premier and once again they gifted the opposition the lead.

The visitors had looked comfortable until Jones was dispossesed by Andy Owens while trying to bring a hopeful ball forward under control.

Southport's left-back-cum-stiker cut in from the left and slipped the ball to captain Alan Moogan, who slammed a first-time effort past keeper Tony Breeden in the 16th minute.

The error affected Harriers' confidence and only encouraged Southport to search for a decisive second and it needed Breeden to pull off a fine save to parry Tony Gray’s well-executed volley.

But once the back four weathered the storm and settled down, the Aggborough outfit started to come into their own.

Jones in particular played like a man possessed, alongside the sturdy Tom Marshall, to get his side back into the game.

The back four also had a hand in Harriers’ leveller in the 41st minute. Marshall played the ball to Lee Vaughan on the right and the alert defender demonstrated excellent vision to deliver an incisive 40-yard pass straight to Anthony Malbon, who had stolen into the box.

The 20-year-old controlled the ball with one touch and then slammed a shot past the keeper to make it honours even.

As Harriers improved their ball retention in the second half they started to stifle their direct opponents.

When the home side did attack, there was no beating Harriers’ well-drilled defence.

Jones produced one superb block which summed up their defiance, managing to throw his body at Gray’s goalbound effort, despite wrestling with Owens.

His redemption was complete in the first minute of time added on, although Jones admitted afterwards he knew very little about the goal.

Southport defender Karl Ledsham tried to clear substitute Mickey Demetriou’s delivery and as Jones closed it down with a block tackle, the ball ricoheted off him and flew into the back of the net.

For a split second, he stood motionless as the enormity of his effort sunk in, but he soon joined his teammates and celebrated with the delighted travelling army of 244 supporters.

“The lad went to clear it and I went to block the ball and it ricocheted off me into the bottom corner,” said a surprised Jones. “If you tried that a thousand times I don't think it would come off again, obviously we're grateful for that bit of luck.

“We were disappointed to concede a sloppy goal but after that we were the better team. Anthony Malbon scored a good goal and we were the only side who looked like they were going to win it.

“We thought we’d run out of time then a little bit of luck comes our way and it might just be at the right time for us.”

Southport: McMillan; Smith; Lever; Akrigg; Grand; Whalley; Parry; Moogan (Benjamin, 67); Ledsham; Gray; Owens (Ellison, 75). Unused substitutes: Nemes; Davis; Carden.

Harriers: Breeden 7; Vaughan 8; Williams 8; Jones 9; Marshall 8; Hankin 7 (Demetriou, 81); Vincent 7; Guinan 7 (Rowe, 62); Byrne 6; Malbon 8; Johnson 7 (Wright, 70). Unused substitutes: Gittings; Lyness.

Referee: Steve Bratt.

Attendance: 1,544 (244)