RUSS Penn had mixed feelings after seeing his side battle to a 1-1 National League draw with Southport.

Harriers controlled much of the first half and were in front through an early Ashley Hemmings penalty.

Southport finished the game the stronger, though, and after Marcus Carver had tucked away a penalty of his own, it was something of a battle as the teams played out the remainder.

“I’m disappointed because we came in at half-time 1-0 up and in total control of the game,” Penn said at the final whistle.

“But then we ended the game probably delighted with a point... I thought we dealt with everything defensively today and thought the penalty was harsh on us.

“I’m sure they’ll moan at our penalty as well, but I just thought we weren’t in control in the second half as I wanted.”

For the first time this season, Harriers were able to head into action with players returning rather than withdrawing – after missing the win over Blyth, Keith Lowe was drafted back into the starting line-up as Russ Penn shifted around his formation to accommodate him as one of three central defenders.

From the off Harriers were bright and set about asking questions in the Southport area – inside seven minutes they had a reward as Bainbridge had been adjudged to have handled the ball, the referee awarding a penalty that Hemminngs nonchalantly rolled into the bottom corner.

Austin then made a chance for himself on the break and forced a save from Mason, but the influential Marcus Carver always ensured the hosts were in the game. On the quarter-hour he forced a great, low save from Simpson in the Harriers goal.

Seven minutes later Harriers were forced again into some important defending as Bajrami, with some brilliant positioning, was able to hook the ball off the line from a Doyle shot - Harriers almost capitalising at the other end when Foulkes planted an Austin cross over.

The visitors had a golden chance to extend their lead inside the first minute of the second half – Foulkes supplying Richards who saw his shot come back off the bar.

That would prove to be a pivotal moment as Southport then grew even further into the game, Woods firing across goal and wide with Simpson beaten after the hour, with the goal following just a few minutes later as Carver slammed the ball into the net from the spot after Lowe had been penalised for a handball.

For all the pressure applied by Southport and for all of Harriers late counter-attacks, there were actually precious few, gilt-edged chances for either of the teams to snatch a winner. Bainbridge, earlier having conceded the penalty, came closest for Southport as he stabbed wide from eight-years with Harriers unable to clear their lines.

There will be little respite for Penn and Harriers – they’ll be back in action within 48 hours when Chester visit Aggborough on Bank Holiday Monday for a 3pm kick-off.

Harriers: Simpson, Richards, Cameron, Lowe, Austin, Carrington (Montrose 84), Hemmings, Foulkes, Martin (Sterling 79), Bajrami, Freemantle (Bell 73).

Subs not used: Penny, Emery.

Attendance: 903 Referee: Kristian Silcock