Forest Green 2, Harriers 3

AMAN Verma bagged a memorable brace as in-form Harriers battled back from behind to win an entertaining Boxing Day clash at Forest Green Rovers.

Twice Kidderminster had been trailing to strikes by Lee Hughes and Oliver Norwood.

But Verma and Jack Byrne bagged levellers to leave these two promotion-chasing sides locked at 2–2 at half-time.

Norwood then squandered a gilt-edged chance to fired the hosts ahead in the 50th minute, before Verma pounced in the 81st minute.

Manager Gary Whild made two changes from the side which defeated Lincoln.

With Josh Gowling missing with a knee injury, rookie centre back Jordan Tunnicliffe was handed his debut in central defence.

Verma was also drafted straight back into the side after missing out because of illness.

It was the hosts who nearly drew blood in the 12th minute when Norwood cut in from the right wing with purpose, evaded Kevin Nicholson and Kyle Storer before unleashing a swerving effort which got the better of diving keeper Danny Lewis but crashed off the base of the post.

Harriers were playing their part in an lively encounter and nearly opened the scoring in the 17th.

Callum Gittings had won the ball off defender David Pipe and teed up Byrne but his effort was deflected behind by desperate defender Luke Oliver.

Kidderminster had won a host of corners without making them tell but they were breached by Marcus Kelly's free-kick in the 29th minute, which allowed former Reds hitman Hughes to flick a perfectly executed close range header into the back of the net.

But Harriers responded almost immediately and made it 1-1 in the 24th minute when Nicholson was given he space to deliver a trademark accurate ball from the left, which Verma headed home at the far post.

Lewis then tipped a curling effort from Norwood behind.

Once again the hosts, lead by an experience front two in Jon Parkin and Hughes, edged ahead again in the 39th minute.  Tunnicliffe produced a desperate challenge to deny Parkin but the hosts keep the pressure alive on the left and Hughes slipped the ball to Norwood, who slotted home from 10 yards out.

Forest Green lost Danny Coles to injury and brought on Aaron Racine but as the home defence was readjusting, Byrne stooped to meet a Storer cross to head home in the 44th minute and make it 2-2.

Harriers made a change at the start of the second half, with striker Craig Reid replacing Gittings.

Green saw a great chance go begging in the 50th minute when Norwood fired wide from close range.

But the game became bad tempered with Storer and Norwood both booked for pushing and shoving. Parkin was also yellow carded for dissent.

Jared was forced to head over his own bar after Rob Sinclair flicked a dangerous ball into the box.

The woodwork came to the away team's rescue in the 62nd minute  when Hughes' far post hit the post.

Chances were at a premium as both teams had tightened up at the back. Rovers midfielder Sam Wedgbury fired a long range effort over the bar on the 67 minute mark.

Akawasi Asante became Harriers' second substitute in the 74th minute as the away team responded well.

The former Birmingham City hitman then set up Verma with a header but the midfielder saw his effort ruled out for offside.

At the other end, Hughes flashed a firm effort over the bar after a good break by Rob Sinclair.

But Harriers took the lead for the first time in the game in the 81st minute.

Byrne's deflected effort forced a corner and after the hosts had failed to clear, Johnson find the unmarked Verma at the far post, who smashed the ball into the roof of the net.

Johnson nearly added a fourth after a lightning quick break but Russell made a fine save.

Hughes came close to making it 3-3 when saw an header said by Lewis in the 90th minute.

But the Reds held on to move onto 43 points and move into the play-off spots temporarily before Boxing Day's 3pm kick-offs.

Harriers: Lewis, Hodgkiss, Storer, Byrne (Green, 89), Johnson, Styche, Grimes, Verma, Gittings (Reid, 46), Tunnicliffe, Nicholson.

Subs not used: Mayebi, Obeng, Asante.

Forest Green: Russell, Pipe, Oliver, Norwood, Wedgbury, Kelly, Hughes, Frear, Sinclair, Parkin, Coles (Racine, 43).

Subs not used: Stokes, Bennett, White, McGrory.

Referee: Craig Hicks.

Attendance: 2,044 (466)