Harriers 0, Grimsby 1

A FRUSTRATING Saturday for Harriers was summed up perfectly by defender Kevin Nicholson.

The former Torquay man had played his part as Kidderminster piled the pressure on Grimsby only for an 85th minute strike by substitute Rhys Oates to inflict defeat.

“Yeah, we broke them down, we bombarded them, we had the chances — but they’ll point to those things and look at it as good defending from them,” lamented the left back.

“It’s the beauty of football; it’s why everyone enjoys watching it. But, as a footballer, those games do your head in.”

There was a serious sense of déjà vu around Aggborough as the team which inflicted Gary Whild’s first home loss as manager in April became the first side to leave Wyre Forest with all three points this season.

While not quite a smash and grab, Harriers had the better of the game and with more ruthlessness would have recorded a stirring win over one of their Vanarama Conference promotion rivals.

But they have struggled for goals in recent weeks, apart from last Tuesday’s 4-0 win over Altrincham, they have failed to score in three of the last four matches.

Once again, Whild shuffled his front two in a bid to find his most effective partnership, pairing Michael Gash with Reece Styche.

Styche had his best game since joining with a hard running performance that left the visiting defence ruffled and the Mariners supporters booing his every touch.

But Harriers’ best chance fell to the normally reliable Gash in the 28th minute.

Marvin Johnson was the creator with a compelling 60 yard dash where he evoked the spirit of George Weah by dribbling with pace through Grimsby’s entire team before testing keeper James McKeown with a firm shot.

Gash pounced on the rebound in a flash but with time to pick his spot and the goal at his mercy, last season’s top scorer blazed over the bar.

The canny Nicholson spotted McKeown off his line and his well-struck free kick forced the Mariners custodian to desperately scramble it away from his bottom right post.

Chey Dunkley had a header blocked on the line by Shaun Pearson in the second half and the hosts had numerous other half chances.

Grimsby rode their luck but played their part in a good advert for Conference football and then provided the sting in the tail.

Oates had arrived on loan from Barnsley only a day before and when manager Paul Hurst threw him on, he demonstrated his Football League quality by lashing a net buster past keeper Danny Lewis.

HARRIERS: Lewis 6, Hodgkiss 6, Storer 6, Dunkley 7, Byrne 6, Johnson 7, Gash 5 (Blissett, 71), Styche 7 (Reid, 75), Grimes 6, Nicholson 7, GOWLING 8. Subs not used: Green, Verma, Gittings.

GRIMSBY: McKeown, Brown, Pearson, Magnay, Mackreth (Oates, 63), Disley, Hannah, Neilson, Clay, Daniel Parslow, Nsiala. Subs not used: Bignot, Doig, Winfarrah, McLaighin.

Referee: Lee Swaby (Plymouth) Attendance: 2093 (373)