SAM Austin’s stupendous lob handed Harriers a win that halved the gap to three points at the National North summit.

The 25-yard-plus chip was the sole bright spot in a 1-0 win over Curzon Ashton that was largely as dull as the foggy weather but the success – a sixth in eight unbeaten outings – put Kidderminster within touching distance of leaders Gloucester City who lost at home to Farsley Celtic.

The slender advantage made for a tense finish but chances were few and far between throughout as Curzon sat back and looked to spring on the break from minute one.

Visiting striker Dominic Knowles got his feet in a muddle when presented with an open goal from a yard out late on but that apart, Harriers looked comfortable enough, providing the most pleasing element for assistant manager Jimmy O'Connor.

“They came here with a game plan and executed it really well, they made it difficult for us and in the end it was a moment of magic that gave us the win," he said.

“But it was not just that. It was about us defending properly, being organised and showing an absolute desire not to concede a goal which was great to see and that says a lot about the character of this group.

“It is not just about the clean sheet, it is about limiting chances on our goal and defending properly when the ball is around our goal.

“It was symbolised by Amari Morgan-Smith up front, he was absolutely different class again and set the tone for the team. It goes right through.

“It was one of those scrappy 1-0s, not the supporters’ favourite type of game, but they would have appreciated the effort of the players, I am sure.

“Teams at this level are always going to offer different problems for you to solve and it is up to us to come up with the answers.

“Some teams are going to show us that respect, others are going to get right after us, we just have to deal with it. The most pleasing thing was that we didn’t get frustrated or to the point where we started making silly decisions.”

Despite sitting deep, Curzon broke with purpose and had the better openings early on with Jude Oyibo’s deflected effort dropping kindly for keeper Luke Simpson to comfortably catch before Connor Hughes narrowly cleared the bar from 20 yards.

There were penalty appeals at either end with Curzon defender Marcus Poscha claiming he was held at a corner and Harriers wide man Ashley Hemmings being bumped to the floor after Matty Waters had got caught under a high ball but referee Ricard Aspinall waved away both.

Hughes had a 21st-minute shot charged down by Max Taylor but chances dried up from there and Kidderminster’s dominance of possession gradually began to tell in the territory stakes.

The breakthrough came in the 36th minute when Hemmings cut inside and fed the tightly-marked Austin who swivelled, appeared to lose control but then stretched to chip the ball with perfect weight to make it over Cam Mason’s stray glove.

Curzon’s Noah Stokes walked a tightrope on the stroke of half-time, slapping away the ball with his hand as he fell trying to shackle Amari Morgan-Smith who would have been clean through but for the indiscretion. The distance from goal meant Stokes escaped with a caution.

There was little change after the interval with Harriers right-back Cliff Moyo the first to seriously test the water with a rising 20-yard drive across goal that was narrowly high and wide.

In a rare foray forward for Curzon Waters got down the left and nudged inside to Knowles whose first-time shot swerved wide of the far post on the hour.

That buoyed the visitors and somewhat swung the pendulum after what had been a flat half an hour but while far from perfect, Harriers were disciplined.

Curzon’s big chance arrived with 12 minutes to go when a quick passage of play ended with Oyibo’s shot ricocheting out to substitute Alex Curran on the right.

His cut back across goal found Knowles a yard out from an open goal but the ball slipped between his feet, hit the back of his heel and squirmed wide of the far post.


Austin gets the nod not only for his goal but for providing the legs in the final third with Harriers looking a little pedestrian at times.

It was tough against deep-lying opponents but a brisker tempo from the hosts, the kind Curzon showed in flashes on the break, might have opened up the game a little more.

Harriers: Simpson 6, Moyo 7, Lowe 7, Taylor 7, Richards 6, Montrose 6, Maxwell 6, Hemmings 6 (Kellermann, 77, 7), Austin 7 (Arthur, 88), Sterling 6 (Prosser, 64, 6), Morgan-Smith 6.

Unused subs: White, Palmer (g/k).

Curzon: Mason 7, Hanson 6, Poscha 7, Tharme 7, Stokes 6 (Whitham, 66, 7), Waters 7, Evans 6 (Curran, 77, 6), Walker 6, Hughes 7 (Mahon, 66, 7), Knowles 5, Oyibo 6.

Unused sub: Southern.

Referee: Richard Aspinall, 6.