HARRIERS’ play-off hopes took a sizeable blow as they were comfortably beaten 3-1 at Brackley Town in National League North.

After the important 2-1 win over Spennymoor the previous week, Harriers were forced to shuffle the pack.

As a result of an injury picked up on international duty with England during the week, Ed Williams missed out, as did Billy Daniels who picked up an ankle knock prior to the day of the game.

As a result, Mark Yates brought in Kwame Thomas for his first start up front while Captain Fraser Horsfall was also restored to the eleven. After more than a month out, Declan Weeks returned on the bench.

Up against one of the division’s in-form teams and one of the most formidable home records of the season, Harriers got off of the worst possible start when, inside five minutes, Taylor’s wayward header was snared by Armson who volleyed it beyond Hal.

Sensing blood, the home side stepped on the gas and dominated much of the half, Baker almost making it two with a low shot after bursting through the defence, Myles then seeing a shot deflected wide by Johnson as a second goal looked on the cards.

Harriers defended with determination and did keep the home side at bay, eventually working out their first chances past the 25-minute mark when Horsfall saw a header blocked and McAlinden’s drive warmed the hands of Danny Lewis.

With 37 on the clock, what had looked like an unlikely equaliser arrived after Ironside was fouled in the box, the striker dusting himself off to dispatch the penalty to ensure the score was at parity in time for the break.

The game was never one for huge passages of eventful play and so it was close to the hour when the first real notable event occurred after the interval, and it wasn’t great news as Harriers lost Austin through injury.

Seven after the hour, Harriers went mightily close to going in front when Ironside’s shot beat Lewis but landed inches wide of the post. It was a tough chance, but Harriers would be forced to pay for missing it as Brackley struck and never really looked back. There were 70 minutes on the clock when a corner, brought down in the area, was nodded past Hall by Ndlovu.

It became one way traffic when Byrne struck the woodwork from another header five minutes later, the Saints man eventually getting his goal moment further on from the penalty spot, Brackley’s third arriving from twelve yards out as he converted after McAlinden’s foul.

The home side saw the game out comfortably enough with Richards’ late cameo not enough to disturb the score any further.

Harriers: Hall, Austin (Weeks 57), Taylor, Horsfall, Flowers, Johnson, McAlinden, Penn, Ironside (Richards 84), Chambers, Thomas.

Subs not used: Higginson, Stratford, Palmer.

Attendance: 845 Referee: Barry Lamb