Harriers 2, Stockport County 0

HARRIERS came through a real test to secure what could prove to be a vital victory over Stockport County.

Goals in either half from Arthur Gnahoua and Elton Ngwatala handed the Reds all three points from an even affair at Aggborough.

The hosts had to defend well all afternoon against a determined County side that were looking to give their play-off hopes a big boost.

In the end it was the Reds' better finishing, as well as some fine saves from keeper Alex Palmer, that were to prove the difference.

It was County that enjoyed the early openings as Courtney Meppen-Walters first forced Palmer to save on eight minutes.

The visitors were working hard to press the ball and stop Harriers from getting into any sort of rhythm. In turn they were winning the ball in good areas of the pitch and looking dangerous in the final third.

Their best chance came on 15 minutes when Danny Lloyd rattled the post with only Palmer to beat following a nice three-man move.

Harriers' only effort early on saw an Ngwatala shot blocked on 18 minutes.

From then on the game soon became a battle for possession in midfield as both sides cancelled each other out for long periods.

It looked like it would stay that way until Gnahoua pounced in first half stoppage time to break the deadlock.

Michael Clarke and Chris Smalley left a long ball to each other and the winger raced through to capitalise on the mistake and poke under Ben Hinchcliffe. He chased down what looked like a lost cause was got rewarded with his 14th of the season but his first since the turn of the year.

It could have been a quick-fire double for the hosts as Brown turned well but fired just wide after a Tyrone Williams cross from the right as Harriers ended the half on top.

The second half saw County come out with real purpose as they went looking for a leveller.

Both sides saw efforts saved as they continued to be evenly matched.

Palmer saved from Sefton Gonzalez on 56 minutes before Hinchcliffe kept out Gnahoua.

Still County came forward and still Harriers defended well. Sub Josh Amis first fired wide and then over within two minutes as the visitors kept the pressure on.

However, it was to be Harriers that were to strike the killer blow ten minutes from time.

Gnahoua found space down the left to beat his man and cross for Ngwatala who headed sharply past Hinchcliffe. The stopper got a hand to the ball but couldn't prevent it nestling in the far corner.

It's a success that sees Harriers hit back following last weekend's defeat at Chorley but importantly extend the game to a side on the brink of the league's play-off places.

Harriers: Palmer, Williams, Francis-Angol, Croasdale, Lowe (c), Tunnicliffe, Waite (Ezewele 81), McQuilkin, Brown (Carter 77), Ngwatala (Truslove 90), Gnahoua.

Unused Subs: Knights, Austin.

Stockport: Hinchcliffe, Ross (c), Hampton, Montrose, Clarke, Smalley (Felix 81), Meppen-Walters (Amis 47), Duxbury, Gonzalez, Ball, Lloyd.

Unused Subs: Brazel, Ormson, Marsden.

Att: 2,151 (515)