HARRIERS Manager Russ Penn rued the loss of his team’s cutting edge as their unbeaten run ended with a 2-0 home defeat to Kettering.

After putting together a good run of results to put themselves within touching distance of top spot in National League North, the Reds were undone by a Kettering side who picked up just a second win of the season.

Two second half goals were in the end enough to bring to a halt Harriers after two home wins on the bounce, on a night that rarely saw the home side threaten to make a breakthrough.

After the game, Penn kept the bigger picture of his team’s strong start to the season in mind, but admitted: "We probably rode our luck a few times in the ten-game spell, but what we have been is very threatening going forward - there were sparks tonight but not enough.

"Ten games in and 20 points; if you'd offered me that after the first game against Chester, of course I'd have snapped your hand off.

"As a whole I'm delighted, but I'm not delighted with tonight."

Penn made just one change to the side who’d narrowly beaten Curzon Ashton just a few days beforehand; out came Omari Sterling and in went Koby Arthur for a second start of the season. Alex Penny, still ill, missed out once again.

A fairly quiet first half offered few chances of note, but an early sight of goal from Kettering almost saw Michael Richens pull off the spectacular as his overhead kick from 20 yards flew narrowly over.

There was good build-up play from both sides to a point but neither excelled at making it count early on – Hemmings saw one shot over for Harriers, before crossing to Austin to nod wide at the far post with one of few clear-cut Harriers openings.

Three shy of the hour mark Kettering were ahead, the vastly experienced Perry doing well to control the ball and drive it across the face of goal where fellow veteran Luke Graham angled a low finish into the net.

Penn threw Sterling, Prosser and Kellermann into the mix in a bid to find a way past the Poppies rear-guard, but while they stood tall at one end, Paul Cox’s men remained a threat at the other. The second goal virtually ended the tie with 20 minutes left as Perry again was allowed to get contact on the ball, nodding into the path of Kennedy who charged through the Harriers half before cutting inside and burying a finish into the far corner.

Harriers must now stew on what is the first  league defeat of the season since the opening day of the season – their next match is in ten days’ time at  Gateshead on December 12th.

Harriers: Simpson, Austin, Richards, Moyo, Taylor (Sterling 60), Lowe, Arthur, Montrose (Kellermann 69), Maxwell (Prosser 75), Hemmings, Morgan-Smith, Moyo


Subs not used: Palmer, White.