KIDDERMINSTER Harriers saw their tricky start to the National League season continue as they fell to a last-gasp 2-1 defeat to Southend United.

Harriers have won just once of their seven games back at the level thus far and have registered just three goals – that drought at least ended at Roots Hall thanks to Amari Morgan-Smith’s second of the campaign.

His effort was sandwiched in between two strikes from Southend in the second half – the crucial winner coming in the third of seven minutes of added time at the end of what was a tense encounter.

After the goalless stalemate against Maidenhead United, Russ Penn again made changes to his squad. Zak Brown and Ashley Hemmings were drafted back into the starting eleven after making meaningful contributions in that game, while Kai Lissimore and Kieran Phillips dropped down to the substitutes bench.

With 5,400 in attendance at Roots Hall, the visitors set about frustrating their hosts, and managed it well enough in a cagey first half that yielded precious few chances.

The only real noteworthy opening in the first 45 came the way of the hosts with just seven minutes gone – Dan Mooney straining his neck to meet a header inside the area but crashing it just wide of Christian Dibble’s target.

Jack Lambert did have a sight of goal ten minutes later at a free kick, but his wayward effort was never troubling Collin Adeng Ndi between the sticks.

Harriers were solid in the first period but found themselves breached early in the second – in-form Harry Cardwell sliding the ball into Dibble’s far corner after finding space inside the area.

Dibble held on to a Wesley Fonguck effort four past the hour and Cardwell had a golden chance to make it 2-0 on 75 minutes only to head wide; Harriers making them pay for that – at least briefly – as they drew level with just ten left.

Barry Maguire, on as a sub, struck powerfully towards the bottom corner of the net but saw his attempt clatter the woodwork – falling to Morgan-Smith who made no mistake with the rebound from close range.

With the best part of 150 travelling fans hopeful of a point as a reward for their long journey, they were left miserable in added time as Cardwell’s header from a deep cross was blocked, the ball dropping straight into the path of sub Callum Powell who took his time before applying a simple finish from six yards.

Harriers are in action again this Saturday when they entertain an old EFL rival in Rochdale at Aggborough, 3:00pm.

Premier League and Championship club Season Ticket holders can buy a ticket from the Aggborough Ticket Office for just £5.