HARRIERS slipped to five points adrift of safety at the foot of the National League after a dour first half resulted in a 1-0 defeat at Aldershot Town.

The visitors improved in the second period but never went close to matching the attacking threat of the Shots’ first period and ultimately paid the price.

Russ Penn made two changes to his starting line-up for the game at the EBB Stadium in Hampshire, with Reiss McNally slotting back into defence after missing the defeat to Fleetwood Town through suspension in the FA Cup.

Ben Tollitt, signed on loan from Oldham Athletic during the week, was handed an immediate debut, with fellow loanee Ryan McLean dropping to the bench.

After two months out with injury, Jack Lambert returned via the substitute’s bench, while Ashley Hemmings was omitted from the 16.

The hosts, conversely, came into the tie on the back of a 7-4 win against EFL opposition in the Cup, the confidence from that clearly evident in a first half they controlled fully.

As early as the sixth minute they were on the prowl. Alex Penny was robbed of the ball and Jack Barham was presented with a one-on-one with Christian Dibble, the shot-stopper coming out on top with a good save.

A direct ball forward six minutes later had Harriers in big trouble again. Josh Stokes was the man in this time, but he misdirected his shot that glanced narrowly wide.

Stoke wasn’t deterred, though, and had his goal with 24 on the clock. Another Shots punt forward found the marksman who comfortably held off the attentions of a struggling Oxlade-Chamberlain to fire past Dibble.

Oxlade-Chamberlain did have the only Harriers chance of the half when he blazed wide from distance, but Tollitt went close within five of the restart when he lifted an effort just over the target.

Harriers at that stage grew in confidence and had their best spell of the game on the ball, though crucially failed to cut through and create enough of note on target in the process.

Nine after the hour, sights of goal started to emerge; Tollitt’s swerving, dipping effort was beaten away by goalkeeper van Stappershoef before Pearce sliced an effort over from inside the six-yard box.

With ten to go, a good counter saw McLean, on as a sub, charge forward and supply to Robinson via Hobson. He crossed into the area to Morgan-Smith, but his header lacked power and was deflected away.

That chance took with it the last of the momentum Harriers could muster and the home side were able to hold on comfortably enough for three points.

Harriers return to Aggborough for the next two National League weekends. Dagenham & Redbridge arrive in Worcestershire next Saturday, 18th, before Hartlepool United are the guests the following Tuesday.