were guilty of missing big chances as they were defeated 2-1 at Altrincham in an important play-off battle.

Harriers were able to welcome back three influential players to the starting eleven; Declan Weeks restored to the line-up after around six weeks out with an injury, Ed Williams also back after time on the treatment table, and Milan Butterfield welcomed into the fold once more after being away on international duty.

A fairly quiet beginning to the game was shattered with just a dozen minutes on the clock, the visitors culpable at a corner as no one came to deal with the ball in, Jones left with the easy task of nodding it in at the far post.

Harriers needed to respond and did when Horsfall saw his shot turned on to the post, but the home side doubled their lead six minutes later when Hulme’s shot looped up off Johnson and beyond Hall for 2-0.

To their credit, Mark Yates’ men arguably dominated the game from then on – again hitting the woodwork through an Ironside header past the half-hour, before the striker got himself on the score sheet after holding off his man and finishing low.

Finishing the half strongly, the visitors nearly stole ahead before the break but strong goalkeeping saw McAlinden denied at the far post as he tried to turn home Taylor’s delivery.

The second half was arguably even slower to get going than the first but, while Altrincham’s Williams dragged a shot wide past the hour mark, Harriers proceeded to push hard for an equaliser -Williams, Chambers and Flowers all denied during a period of pressure on the home goal.

Such was the control Harriers found over the game, it was inevitable that further chances would come – alas the men from Aggborough spurned a hat-trick of big opportunities; the first arriving on 83 minutes when Richards drilled into the goalkeeper at a free-kick when well placed.

Three minutes later, Taylor’s cross was lifted over the bar by substitute Thomas, before the biggest opening of the lot saw Richards presented with the ball by Williams in the final minute of normal time – the winger had done brilliantly to get past his man and roll in the striker, but the latter could only power over the bar with the goal at his mercy.

It was a costly defeat for Harriers, whose play-off hopes are now, at best, hanging by a thread.

Harriers: Hall, Taylor, Flowers, Johnson, Horsfall, McAlinden (Richards 79) Butterfield, Weeks (Penn 86), Chambers, Williams, Ironside (Thomas 71).

Subs not used: Palmer, Higginson.

Attendance: 1,095 Referee: Dean Watson