HARRIERS saw their poor National League form continue with a dismal 2-1 defeat against Eastleigh on Saturday.

Russ Penn’s outfit had an early lead in Hampshire, but squandered any hope of a much-needed three points by conceding two poor goals before the break and lacking any real cutting edge at the other end.

After a 3-0 drubbing at Gateshead in midweek, Harriers rang the changes once again at the Silverlake Stadium, though at least some of Russ Penn’s four changes will have been injury forced with Jack Lambert known to have withdrawn at the International Stadium with a knock.

Lambert joined Reiss McNally, Barry Maguire and Ashley Hemmings in dropping out of the starting eleven, while there were starting berths for former Eastleigh man Gerry McDonagh, Amari Morgan-Smith, Alex Penny and Zak Brown.

New signing Bailey Hobson, who’d inked a one-month loan deal from divisional rivals Chesterfield in the build-up, had to make do with a space among the substitutes.

The visitors started brightly, Caleb Richards slicing wide when in a good position on seven minutes. Seconds later, though, Harriers had their first penalty of the season after McDonagh was fouled in the area. The striker did the honours and thumped the resultant effort from 12 yards past Joe McDonnell in goal.

Harriers might’ve had a second when Alex Penny stabbed over on 18 minutes. Just before, though, there was a let-off for the side when an unmarked Paul McCallum saw his header beaten away by Christian Dibble. Not for the first time this season, it was a warning that went unheeded, Harriers duly punished when the same man planted a header home at the near post from a corner five minutes later.

McCallum almost had an immediate double when he was played through on goal, but Dibble stood up well to get in a good block.

Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain was well placed for Harriers just after the half-hour as the ball ran into his path. The former Aldershot man miscued his finish, though, and a meek effort dribbled comfortably wide.

Harriers were in constant trouble at the other end and were behind again before the break. Scott Quigley had already put another unmarked header over when McCallum gleefully accepted his second gift-wrapped goal of the game with a near carbon-copy finish from a cross.

Any real quality the game had certainly appeared to dissipate in the second half, Eastleigh set on preserving their lead and Harriers looking desperate for a way to pull back level.

There were precious few chances – the hosts gifted Joe Leesley possession on the edge of the area inside the last ten minutes, but his curled effort was comfortably over the target.

The hosts really ought to have put the game beyond doubt in the final seconds. Having rounded the goalkeeper, Aiden Barlow’s task looked easy, but the ball rolled past the near post and along the goal line without a touch to nudge it home. Harriers were able to hook it away, but couldn’t salvage a share of the spoils.

After two considerable away trips, Harriers can at least call on some home comforts next time out – they entertain Oldham Athletic at Aggborough on Tuesday night, 7:45pm.