Boston United into play-off semi-finals after dogged victory at Kidderminster Harriers

KIdderminster Harriers 1 Boston United 2
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Boston United booked their place in the National League North play-off semi-finals after a thrilling 2-1 victory at Kidderminster Harriers.

The hosts had won the two league meetings, finished 11 points clear of the Pilgrims, taken West Ham to extra time ion the FA Cup and been the firm favourites this evening.

But it's the Pilgrims heading to AFC Fylde on Sunday after one of their most dogged performances of the season.

Solid defensively, patient in attack and with a topping of pace, flare and daring - it was everything this side promises but haven't always delivered.

But they came good at the right time.

Kidderminster's ex-Pilgrims Ashley Hemmings and Alex Penny - who scored the goals in their side's 2-1 league win at Boston in December - both started while striker Amari Morgan-Smith returned from injury.

For United, Paul Cox stuck with the side which booked their place in the play-offs with a 2-0 win at Farsley Celtic on Saturday.

Danny Elliott. Photo: Oliver AtkinDanny Elliott. Photo: Oliver Atkin
Danny Elliott. Photo: Oliver Atkin

The only change came on the bench where Connor Dimaio, back from his loan at Curzon Ashton, replaced youngster Ben Sault.

The first half began at a fizzing pace, Harriers taking the game to the Pilgrims who were happy to respond with quick counter-attacking football.

But it took 15 minutes for the first real threat at goal, Amari Morgan-Smith's curling 25-yard dipper landing on the roof of Marcus Dewhurst's net.

Scott Duxbury's evening ended after 22 minutes as he clattered into Harriers keeper Luke Simpson, both receiving treatment for cuts to their faces.

Keenan Ferguson replaced the Pilgrims defender - who headed to hospital - as Simpson returned to the pitch.

Jake Wright jnr had a chance to put the Pilgrims ahead when Dewhurst's long free kick was flicked on for Scott Garner. As the ball landed to Wright eight yards from goal he blazed over on the spin.

Seconds later Danny Elliott put a free header wide and two golden chances went begging.

Femi Seriki was the next to try his luck, a 20-yard left footer dragged just wide after a driving run forward.

But pressure finally paid off in the 45th minute as Elliott put the Pilgrims in front.

Brad Abbott's effort was parried by Simpson before Elliott's rebound was also blocked by the keeper.

But a low byline cross from Ferguson was converted from close range by Elliott. First blood Boston.

The hosts came out fighting in the second half and Hemmings looked to have levelled with a close range header, only for Dewhurst somehow got down to claw away the ball off the goalline as it looked past him.

Back came Boston with Luke Shiels heading Shane Byrne's corner over, but the next sight of goal was a decisive one - for the hosts.

A 65th-minute moment of class from Hemmings saw him collect a long punt, turn two defenders and looms down on goal before bending beyond Dewhurst.

It was his third goal in four games against his former employers this season, and easily his most important.

Dewhurst got down well to block an Omari Sterling drive from close range as the Harriers piled on the pressure.

However, it was the Pilgrims who regained the lead against the run of play, in bizarre circumstances.

Penny and Simpson got their wires crossed attempting to clear a Wright jnr cross and the Kidderminster defender forced the ball into his own net.

Sterling's free kick flew inches wide of Dewhurst's post while - at the other end - another driving Seriki run saw his effort pushed away by Simpson.

Into the three minutes added and Hemminghs just couldn't get enough contact onto a deep ball into the box.

KIDDERMINSTER: Simpson, Penny, Richards, Cameron, Carrington (Freemantle 85), Morgan-Smith, Hemmings, Sterling, Foulkes, Martin, Bajrami; Subs (not used): Lowe, Montrose, Palmer, White.

PILGRIMS: Dewhurst, Duxbury (Ferguson 22), Garner, Shiels, Green, Wright jnr (Massanka 78), Elliott, Wright snr, Abbott, Byrne, Seriki; Subs (not used): Thanoj, Dimaio, Preston.

REF: Aaron Bannister.

ATT: 3,921 (408).