RUSS Penn said he was “so proud” of his players after they picked up an excellent 1-0 National League North win at Gateshead.

Skipper Lewis Montrose scored the only goal of the game to settle a tight affair with just seven minutes to go, after defences had largely come out on top despite both sides playing some good football.

It got Harriers back to winning ways and ended the Heed’s six-match unbeaten run as the Reds kept up the pressure near the top end of the table.

At the final whistle, the Manager’s delight was evident. He said: “I am just so proud of the boys, to be honest. We set off at 7:15 this morning and that’s what you’ve got to do at this level.

“We prepped well and had a fantastic week on the training ground. We came with a game plan and executed it superbly I thought, against a good team.”

Boss Penn made two changes to the side that had fallen to defeat at the hands of Kettering last time out – in came Sterling in place of Koby Arthur, while Max Taylor also dropped to the bench in favour of the returning Alex Penny, back into the fold after two games out through illness.

Harriers had begun brightly and, through Hemmings, forced Male into a good hold early on, setting the tone for the chances that came as he denied Lowe with a great one-handed stop, before Luke Simpson at the other end extended himself well to thwart Garner on the breakaway.

Gateshead’s Cooper nodded over from a corner on 18 minutes, Male punching away a Caleb Richards drive with 24 on the clock as the early pendulum continued to swing both ways, Simpson diving to catch a Simpson effort from distance.

The home side arguably had the greater share of openings as the half wore on with Garner ever a threat, denied by Simpson as he raced through with ten to go until the interval, Morgan-Smith then nodding wide with a gilt-edged chance in the dying moments of the half.

Six minutes after the restart, Smith’s drive almost had Gateshead ahead before fizzing just wide, the start to the second half far scrapper than the first – Harriers having to wait until five after the hour for their first chance as Austin saw a shot cleared off the line at a corner.

From there the game descended into a real battle, with chances few and far between as Hemming saw a shot blocked and Simpson gladly watched Gateshead turn a shot over the target after his miss-cued clearance only found a Heed shirt.

Seven minutes before time came the telling moment of the day; Hemmings whipped in a delightful corner that  Montrose got contact on – it looked as though Male would gather it only for the ball to evade him and roll into the bottom corner.

Harriers: Simpson, Austin (Freemantle 78), Penny, Richards, Moyo, Lowe, Maxwell (Prosser 65), Montrose, Morgan-Smith, Sterling (Arthur 90+2), Hemmings.

Subs not used: Phillips, Taylor

Referee: Paul Brown