HARRIERS moved to within goal difference of getting out of the National League drop zone with a a thrilling 3-2 victory over relegation rivals Oxford City.

Phil Brown’s 100% record as Harriers Manager was very much in jeopardy at half time after the visitors took a 2-0 lead and Brown himself was dismissed from the technical area.

However, Gold Omotayo bagged the winner in the second half as the Reds sealed another success from behind, with further goals from Amari Morgan-Smith and Jack Lambert.

Brown made one change to the starting line-up from the previous weekend’s win at Dagenham and Redbridge. Back from an injury, on-loan Barrow man Sam Bellis was restored to the side in favour of Omotayo who dropped to the bench.

Uncharacteristically for Brown’s tenure, Harriers were sluggish throughout the first 45 and came unstuck with 17 minutes on the clock when Josh Parker rose in between two defenders to plant a free header past Christian Dibble.

Further setbacks followed; the hosts then lost Matt Preston to an apparent hamstring injury, before Brown was given his marching orders, the reason for his straight red card not immediately clear.

Worse still followed on the stroke of half time when Reiss McNally was penalised for a push in the area, Parker stepping up to slot home the penalty and double Oxford’s advantage.

Harriers at that stage faced their biggest challenge yet under Brown – and arguably all season – and responded with a goal before the hour mark. Lambert slid the ball to Morgan-Smith who took a superb first touch before slamming the ball in off the underside of the bar.

That provided a big boost to the 3,300 crowd inside Aggborough and they were buoyant on 75 minutes when their side drew level. Hemmings beat two Oxford players before dropping a cross on to the head of Omotayo who was denied by a superb save from Marcin Brzozowski. City were unable to clear their lines, though, and when Brzozowski was unable to hold Morgan-Smith’s shot, Lambert was on hand to tap in for his first ever Harriers goal.

From that point on there only ever looked like being one winner. After a lengthy delay after the City stopper received treatment for an injury in the aftermath of the goal, Harriers scored again within seconds of the restart, a Caleb Richards delivery met by a superb header from Omotayo who steered it into the far corner of the net.

Only goal difference now separates Harriers from AFC Fylde who sit just outside the relegation zone after their own victory over Dorking Wanderers on Saturday.

The Reds now put their quest for National League survival on ice for a week as they venture back into the FA Trophy, with a trip to Peterborough Sports on Staurday between them and a place in the Quarter-Finals.