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Super-sub Nick is Wright on time with astonishing hat-trick
11:32am Thursday 26th April 2012 in Reports
SUPER-SUB Nick Wright plundered an astonishing hat-trick as Harriers fought from two goals down to ressurect their promotion hopes on Easter Monday.
With five minutes of normal time left, the Aggborough outfit's play-off dream in the Blue Square Bet Premier looked like it had suffered a severe blow as they trailed to two first-half strikes.
With York and Luton winning as well as Southport drawing, a loss would have seen Harriers tumble out of the top five but the mercurial Wright produced a treble which secured a fifth win in six games and would live long in the memory of those who witnessed it.
Sixteen points from a possible 18 has completely transformed the play-off ambitions for Steve Burr’s side and keeps the pressure on the teams around them.
That dream had looked a distant hope as one of the quickest goals of the season at any level rocked the home side to its core.
There looked to be little danger when Luke Jones opted unnescessarily to head a hopeful punt straight from the kick-off back to keeper Tony Breeden.
Harriers’ custodian allowed the ball to escape him on a waterlogged pitch and the alert Newport striker Jake Reid was on hand to slot the ball into the back of the empty net. The time on the clock was barely 11 seconds.
With their confidence hammered, Harriers failed to get going and struggled to really threaten Newport, who were keen to end any lingering relegation fears.
When Lee Minshull intercepted Lee Vaughan’s wayward pass and slipped the ball to Sam Foley, the Newport bright spark drove 25-yards and slammed a vicious strike into the bottom corner.
The second seemed to be a dagger in the heart of Harriers’ Football League dreams but it could have been even worse when Minshull’s near post header from a Foley corner hit the bar and bounced over.
After the break, Harriers responded in typically forthright fashion and pinned well-drilled Newport back but for all their pressure it looked as though this may be a game too far.
However, Burr’s side have turned late goals into an artform and for the eighth time since the turn of the year – and third game in a row – a stirring last-ditch effort spun the game on its head.
The signs had been there in the 78th minute when the industrious midfield engine James Vincent had seen a header brilliantly parried by keeper Karl Darlow.
That had been the Newport custodian’s first real save of the match but the shot-stopper was about to be blown away by Harriers hurricane of goals, with the inspired Wright the eye of the storm.
When Vaughan was caught by substitute Elliott Buchanan as he drove into the box, the striker stepped up to slot a penalty into the back of the net for his first goal since the end of January.
Famine turned to feast as Wright led the way. He and fellow substitutes Ryan Rowe and Dan Bradley had a revelatory impact on the course of the match and perhaps the direction of Harriers’ campaign.
When Rowe slipped the ball to Wright in the box in the third minute of time added on, the big hitman held off David Pipe and spun swiftly to fire a shot home from close range.
Harriers’ fans celebrated but even better was to come and ensured supporters who prematurely left with 10 minutes to go would be kicking themselves for a long time to come.
Bradley chased down a lost cause on the left before producing a pin-point delivery and Rowe’s proximity to Darlow forced the keeper to flap the ball into the path of Wright, who competed his titanic treble with aplomb to spark elated scenes of pandemonium behind the goal.
If Harriers reach the promised land of League Two, many supporters will pin-point this incredible fight back as the key result.
Afterwards, Harriers’ match-winning hero was glad to have got on the scoresheet after reaching 15 goals for the season.
He said: “We like to keep everyone entertained! A few people wrote us off earlier on in the season but we just kept going and we’re still in it.
“The goals were long overdue, I don’t think I had scored in three months so I’m glad to get back on the scoresheet.”
Harriers: Breeden 5; Vaughan 7; Williams 7; Jones 6; Marshall 8; Hankin 6 (WRIGHT, 61, 9); Vincent 8; Guinan 7 (Rowe, 66); Byrne 6 (Bradley, 70); Malbon 6; Johnson 6. Unused substitutes: Lyness; Demetriou.
Newport: Darlow; Baker (Buchanan, 77); Yakubu; Foley; Hughes; Pipe; Charles; Minshull; Rose (Rodgers, 68); Reid (Jarvis, 62); Porter. Unused substitutes: Thompson; Evans.
Referee: Stephen Martin (Staffordshire).
Attendance: 2,275 (366)