HARRIERS’ tricky festive form continued as they fell to a 1-0 defeat at Stockport to slip out of the National League North play-off places.

Neil MacFarlane’s men, who have won just once in the last eight games, looked a good bet for a point after a hard-working performance at a Hatters side who’d very much been the form side in the division.

It would turn out to be a familiar tale in many respects, however, as a late goal left those hopes scuppered – former Worcester City man Sam Minihan nodding home a corner to send the home fans into raptures and a Harriers squad ravaged by illness and injury empty-handed.

Going into the game, Neil MacFarlane had been forced to replace both Ed Williams and Billy Daniels in his starting line-up. James Baxendale came in for the former but, MacFarlane revealed, was also forced off with illness, while Russ Penn came in for Daniels.

Harriers were bright to start and looked a threat going forward with Bradley having an early chance and a deadly Baxendale cross causing problems. The home side, though, showed why they’ve been doing so well lately with Warburton constantly among the chances, an early effort flying wide.

Midway past the first half, Chambers’ cross needed a good pair of hands to take it away from Richards while, at the other end, Brandon Hall made what was his only serious save of the game – a point-blank stop as Thomas tried to finish from close range, Stephenson then wasting the rebound.

Harriers then went close as the half-hour came and went when Richards pulled just wide and Penn saw a distance effort held, Turnbull afterwards almost marking his 200th County appearance with a goal as his firm drive soared just off target.

Early after the break, Harriers’ Johnson and Stockport’s Warburton both saw efforts go off target before Aaron Phillips, off the bench for his club debut, moved into space and curled a shot wide.

His fellow sub, Waring, nodded down well for Chambers past the hour only for the latter’s shot to skew narrowly past the post, before Bradley’s drive had the power taken out of it by a deflection on its way through to to Hinchliffe.

Weeks and Bradley both had half-chances before the defining moment of the game arrived; a swirling corner connecting with Minihan at the near-post, the ball hitting Penn on its way past Hall and into the far corner.

A stoppage-time shot for Bradley was as close as Harriers came to a comeback in the four minutes of injury time, as the Reds tasted defeat once again.

Harriers: Hall, Vaughan, Austin, Penn, Horsfall, Johnson, Weeks, Baxendale (Phillips 46), Chambers, Bradley, Richards (Waring 57).

Subs not used: O’Connor, White, Palmer Referee: Richard Aspinall Attendance: 3,784