Harriers put in by far their most encouraging performance of the season but it wasn’t enough to stop them falling to a cruel, late defeat to Forest Green Rovers at Aggborough on Monday.
Both sides got themselves early sights at goal in blustery conditions as Mickey Demetriou and Aaron Racine both saw efforts go wide for the hosts and visitors respectively, James Norwood going slightly closer for Rovers on nine minutes as he saw a shot deflected away from danger.
Some quick thinking from Danny Pilkington’s free-kick three minutes later kept goalkeeper Sam Russell on his toes; Lee Vaughan played in and whipping a dangerous cross that landed just on the top of the stopper’s net.
With 17 minutes on the clock Russell was scrambling again as he looked to get hands to a rasping free-kick delivery from Demetriou; the effort looked destined for the top corner but thankfully for Russell flew just inches high of the target.
Nathan Vaughan, between the sticks for the injured Danny Lewis, held superbly from Rovers’ James Norwood 27 minutes in and, just after, a sweeping counter move from Harriers saw the recalled duo of Kyle Storer and Callum Gittings combine for the latter to force a neat save from Russell’s feet on the angle.
Three minutes after the half-hour mark the visitors saw themselves reduced to ten men as Omar Koroma picked up a completely needless second yellow card for handball near the edge of the area, Storer then driving a shot narrowly wide as Harriers looked to press.
On the stroke of half-time the forward-thinking Demetriou was again causing problems as his effort from 20 yards was deflected just inches past Russell’s upright, from the resultant corner it was Pilkington to flashed a header across the face of goal.
Rovers began the second half well and looked determined to belittle their numerical disadvantage, Norwood firing one effort over just after the restart whilst Eddie Oshodi charged forward and drove at goal after 54, Vaughan getting down well and turning the ball around the post.
As the hour mark came and went the mindset of the visitors seemed to change as they allowed Harriers to comfortably keep the ball inside their own half as they camped themselves defensively to try and hold what they had – Steve Burr doing what he could from the bench in introducing Steve Guinan and Marvin Johnson.
Norwood curled one right into the hands of Vaughan with 15 minutes left to play and moments later only a fine save from Russell kept Harriers out as an intelligent header back across the face of goal by Callum Gittings set up Anthony Malbon whose nod down from point-blank range was somehow clawed away.
Just as you thought Rovers were ten minutes away from the delight of a point, the ultimate hammer blow for the hosts came with the opening goal of the day – one long, lumped ball through the middle set Norwood free; Chey Dunkley looked to have done just enough to put him off with a superb sliding tackle but the hit-man kept at it and managed to finish from the very tightest of angles.
Russell was again at his best to deny both Lee Vaughan and Keith Briggs as Harriers looked to respond straight away.
Gallery: Stefan Rapacz