HARRIERS suffered their first league defeat under Phil Brown as they went down to a disappointing 2-0 defeat to play-off chasing Gateshead at Aggborough.

A goal in each half was enough for an efficient Heed side to seal maximum spoils on their lengthy jaunt down to Worcestershire.

Following Saturday’s solid if not spectacular 0-0 draw against Dorking Wanderers on home soil, Brown opted to make just one change to his starting eleven. In came on-loan West Bromwich Albion defender Aaron Harper-Bailey for a first league start, in place of Sam Bellis who dropped to the bench.

Keen to make amends for that tepid Saturday outings, the home side tried to start brightly and got the first sight of goal on the night, a third minute effort for Ashley Hemmings from 18 yards that deflected up and over the target occupied by returning Gateshead goalkeeper James Montgomery.

With 17 on the clock, it was the visitors who almost stole ahead in remarkable fashion. A driven effort from Kain Adom bounced awkwardly inside the area, catching Dibble in the face and heading beyond him, hitting the post before coming to a rest on the goal line with a grateful shot stopper back to hold it still.

Two minutes later, Hemmings sliced off target after being set up by Jack Lambert, but The Heed were ahead on the half-hour mark. The lively ex-Harrier Marcus Dinanga timed his run well inside the area to shoot, the attempted blocked by a combination of Harper-Bailey and Dibble who stood up well, only for the ball to squeeze through to the grateful Callum Whelan who smashed home from a yard or two out.

Brown opted to make a tactical change five before the restart when he introduced Gold Omotayo in favour of Harper-Bailey, Hemmings having the side’s first chance on target with 52 played as he turned and shot, Montgomery able to scoop up the ball.

Come the hour, it was 2-0. A defensive lapse allowed Gateshead in on goal, and the Reds were indebted to Dibble for thwarting Kieron Evans at point-blank range. It proved a short-lived reprieve, the resultant corner floated in for Mamadou Jobe to send a looping header in off the angle of post and bar.

It might have worsened further still for Brown’s charges three minutes later, but Dibble denied Dinanga with another smart intervention, the same unfolding with just 15 minutes left to go as the former Wrexham man stopped the striker from adding to his team’s tally.

Harriers thrust Bellis and Regan Griffiths into the action in the final stages, but there was no way through a confident Gateshead side despite an injury time effort from Zak Brown that Montgomery held.

Having enjoyed back-to-back home games, Harriers now take to the road in the National League as they visit Oldham Athletic on Saturday (24th) before the shorter journey for the re-arranged game at Solihull Moors.