Halifax 2, Harriers 0

HARRIERS’ once formidable defence needs to find the inner miser after losing its mojo.

In their first seven games, Gary Whild’s team were harder to break into than Fort Knox, conceding just four goals and keeping five clean sheets.

But their durability has been punctured by a jagged road of testing fixtures against big hitters Barnet, Woking, Grimsby, Wrexham and Halifax.

In the last 10 matches, Harriers have leaked 14 goals with just one shut-out.

Apart from the occasional absence of Josh Gowling, who missed Saturday’s clash with a shoulder injury, the back four has been largely settled and on paper looks solid.

For the second game in a row, Harriers paid the price for a lacklustre first half against high-flying opposition. Halifax had picked up just one point from a possible nine but they did not have to work hard to breach the Reds.

Louis Maynard punished slack marking when he slotted into the bottom right corner in the 36th minute, but worse was to come in the 42nd.

Chey Dunkley, who had been on England C duty in Turkey last week, left keeper Danny Lewis stranded in no man’s land with a short back-header. Despite the keeper’s attempt to force Richard Peniket wide, the Stourbridge-born former Harrier slotted home.

Peniket was only handed a start because of Danny Hattersley’s illness in the warm-up, but he was denied by Michael Gash early in the second half.

Inevitably, Kidderminster improved and controlled the second period.

Whild threw on Marvin Johnson in a 4-4-2, while Ahmed Obeng looked bright on the other flank despite making only his second Vanarama Conference start.

But their best chance fell to Dunkley, who saw his header hit the post before Halifax survived an almighty scramble. The away team’s star performer was reliable right-back Jared Hodgkiss.

Whether testing Halifax keeper Matt Glennon with several dangerous crosses or producing goal-saving tackles on Jamie Jackson, he was one of the few Kidderminster men to play at somewhere near their best.

Whild said: “Everything Halifax did the players had been warned about and with the record they have at home I am disappointed it takes until half-time to improve.

“You trust the lads you put out there to do the job and they are certainly capable enough because of the results this season against good sides.

“The consistency is missing. You’ve got to look at Jared Hodgkiss, he puts inperformances every week, works hard in training and maybe one or two ought to look at him and do something similar.

“Halifax made the play-offs last year and will be there or thereabouts this year as well.

“They are consistent, there are no frills about them, they scrap for every ball and I thought that was lacking in us in the first half and that was disappointing.”

Harriers: Lewis 6, HODGKISS 8, Dunkley 5, Byrne, Gash 6, Blissett 6 (Styche, 79), Obeng 7, Grimes 5, Verma 5 (O’Keefe, 66, 5), Gittings 5 (Johnson, 53 7), Nicholson 6. Subs not used: Green, Reid.

Halifax: Glennon, Ainge, McManus, M Roberts, Williams, K Roberts, Maynard, Marshall (Smith, 46), Pearson, Boden (Jackson, 58), Hattersley. Subs not used: Senior, Bolton, Schofield.

Referee: Martin Coy. Attendance: 1437 (99)