HARRIERS threw away a two-goal lead to fall to a 3-2 defeat at league leaders Gloucester - taking their own form to just one win in seven.

Going into the clash, Harriers had made two changes to the starting line-up; Cowley was rewarded for his goal against York with a first start since his loan move to the club, while Sterling was also back in the eleven. Inside five minutes Harriers were ahead as his looping cross found the head of Freemantle who powered a big header beyond the dive of the goalkeeper and into the net. One was two seven minutes later, clinical build-up leaving Gloucester static as Austin drove a finish into the far corner.

Gloucester did come back into the game soon after; boasting an impressive forward line, they went close through Marsh-Brown before Cowley came close to making it 3-0 on 24 minutes, his header dropping inches wide.

The Tigers were then the greater force before the break and in the space of three minutes were almost level. They did get one back on 29 minutes as Marsh-Brown swept home a pull-back inside the area, before a sublime save from Simpson kept the same player from netting again, expertly tipping a shot over the bar.

Five after the restart a tremendous swivel and shot by Cowley almost saw the loan striker net an outrageous goal on his first start for the club. Simpson up at the other end saved smartly as Dawson advanced and shot low, but the custodian was powerless to prevent the leveller on 64 as McClure slotted the ball past him after Burroughs has been given too much time to cross.

With Gloucester continuing to control things more and more there was a sense of inevitability when they went in front; Young’s unstoppable free-kick crashed in off the underside of the bar. Marsh-Brown then saw another effort narrowly fizz over as the hosts searched for more.

Harriers had scuffs and snatched shots in front of goal in search of parity in the dying stages, a deflected Prosser effort wide of the post was the closest they came. It left Penn to rue a good start gone bad, with the boss saying at full-time “We started the game exactly as I’d wanted to, but goals change games and our mindset completely changed, which is not what I want from this team.

“Defensive lapses as a team gave them the impetus and they made it too – then we’re gifting free-kicks on the edge of the box and you could just see [the winner] going in.

“I’m desperately disappointed, it’s the lowest point of the last month because of how we’ve started the game. To go on and say we’d lose this 3-2, I’d have laughed at you.”

Harriers: Simpson, Penny, Richards, Lowe, Moyo, Maxwell, Austin, Hemmings (Arthur 83), Sterling, Cowley, Freemantle (Prosser 64).

Subs not used: Palmer, Martin, Taylor

Referee: Daniel Locker