Report - Matt Wall
Stats - Press Association
Photo - Stefan Rapacz
Harriers came from two goals down on the opening day of the season but it wasn't enough to secure a share of the spoils against Gateshead who ran out 3-2 winners at Aggborough on Saturday thanks to a late strike.
It was a true nightmare start to the new season for the men in red. Looking to get off to a flying opening in front of a noisy crowd, they were dealt a real blow as within two minutes they'd conceded a penalty; a free-kick from just outside the area was driven towards the wall which jumped - the ball apparently coming off the hand of Kyle Storer on its way; the referee in no doubt as he awarded the kick, and Jon Shaw in no doubt as he netted from 12 yards.
Aggborough was stunned but not into silence - within six minutes they'd almost drawn level with some early pressure - a re-worked corner saw Callum Gittings cross into the box where Luke Jones rose well to get a head to it, sending an effort thumping off the post with the goalkeeper beaten.
With a little over a quarter-hour gone it was the hosts dominating as the visitors held on to their lead - fine work from Storer and Marc Williams in and around the area as they combined to set-up Gittings who blasted wide from around 12 yards.
Typically, however, as they found themselves unable to draw even Gateshead stormed up the other end and grabbed themselves a second. No doubts about this one, though, Harriers' defence caught stone cold as Eddie Odhiambo crossed towards the near-post where an unmarked Micky Cummins who gleefully nodded past Daniel Lewis.
If the response to the first goal from Harriers was good then the reaction to the second needed to be better, and it was - less than two minutes later it was 2-1 as the best move of the game to that point for the home side saw Marc Williams keep the ball neatly on the edge of the box before threading in the onrushing Nick Wright who latched on to it and finished past Paul Farman. (Pictured)
Tails up, within four minutes it was all-square - number 24 in minute 24 as a Gittings' corner was met by an excellently-timed header from Storer who slammed home to score on his debut leaving a shell-shocked Farman with no chance.
It was almost as if both sides needed a couple of goals each just to get the nervous energy out of their systems as, as soon as Harriers drew level, the game settled down into its most composed period.
The home side continued to play the better football and could well have gone ahead in the dying moments of the half as Wright's good work saw him get a ball into the box, falling just behind the waiting Williams who would surely have pounced.
With just six minutes on the clock after the re-start Harriers had a glorious chance to take the lead for the first time on the day; the ball was won well by Marc Williams as he spun away to release Wright who ran half the length of the pitch to get a one-on-one with Farman - he had options in the middle but clearly felt he'd earned the right to shoot; his effort flying over the bar with some venom.
Just three minutes later it was down to the work of Farman to keep Harriers at bay - Marc Williams again instrumental in the play as he crossed to James Vincent in the middle of the area, his shot blocked well by the stopper.
The game drifted into a pretty scrappy spell around the hour mark as both sides made substitutions to try and re-ignite the earlier spark - Luke Medley and Scott Phelan making competitive debuts for Harriers off the bench.
With a quarter-hour to go Gateshead what had become an all-too-rare opportunity at goal and when a free-kick was fizzed in low across the box, James Curtis' wayward effort was a waste. A little later Jon Shaw's header went some way closer as he forced Lewis into a neat-save but they needed to wait just one minute further, with ten minutes to go, before they found themselves ahead for the third time.
Yemi Odubade took charge of the ball out-wide and skipper Mike Williams looked to have done a good enough job in keeping the angles tight - less care was taken in the box, however, as Kris Gate was left unmarked from just five yards to toe-poke home the eventual cross.