Harriers 2, Macclesfield 1

GARY Whild made a winning return from his Aggborough exile as Harriers mixed sublime goals with dogged defending on Tuesday night.

The new manager took charge as boss for the first time at Kidderminster’s Hoo Road home since replacing Andy Thorn last week.

He’d not been in the home dugout since January 4, when he was Steve Burr’s assistant and the Reds had held League One Peterborough to a 0-0 draw in the FA Cup Third Round.

But when Burr was removed from his position only days later, Whild was cast into limbo, as he was told by the club to stay away from first team affairs.

During his enforced nine-week absence, Harriers endured one of the most truly strange periods in their history, marked by a superb FA Cup run, disastrous form in the Skrill Premier, the resignation of chairman Mark Serrell and Thorn’s eventual sacking.

But Whild’s ascension to the hot-seat has brought immediate stability and helped to blow away some of the negativity which had been hanging over the club.

The former Redditch United manager is also making a confident step up from assistant to number one, with four points from the first two matches to keep Harriers’ play-off hopes alive.

Even before the kick-off the feeling around the ground was more upbeat than it had been for two months and an fantastic early goal only cemented the positive vibes.

Callum Gittings was one of the players that Whild plucked from the lower levels of non-league and it was fitting the quietly-spoken midfield maestro delivered a moment of magic 45 seconds after kick-off.

There seemed little on 30-yards out from goal but the Brummie playmaker let fly with a fine effort which dipped at the last minute and caught out Macclesfield keeper Rhys Taylor.

It almost got better as Mickey Demetriou’s thundering effort crashed onto the bar and Anthony Malbon fired the rebound over.

Macclesfield were stunned and offered little going forward, with Paul Turnbull bending a free-kick in the 20th minute just wide.

But former Sillkmen striker Amari Morgan-Smith doubled Harriers’ advantage in the 39th minute.

The goal was created by winger Marvin Johnson, who had replaced Adrian Cieslwicz in the 13th minute after a collision with Taylor.

Johnson produced his best display of the season and after a blistering 50-yard-dash, he produced a lovely first-time ball, which Morgan-Smith deftly slotted past Macclesfield’s keeper to make it four goals in five matches.

Harriers looked on top but the visitors replied two minutes later when Darren Whitaker slid home from Scott Boden’s cross.

Macclesfield bossed the second half and piled on the pressure but solid defending kept them at bay. Their best chance fell to Boden in the 65th minute but Gittings put his body on the line to block his close-range effort.

“Overall I thought in terms of effort, attitude and application the lads did absolutely fantastic,” enthused Harriers’ manager.

“It was a bit frantic but I think that was on the back of being a little bit desperate to get a win.

“You can try too hard at times and maybe there were guilty of that.

“I thought we scored two good goals and in the second half we showed a different side, which is important.”