Harriers fell to their first defeat of the season on Saturday as a sharp Gateshead side picked up a 3-2 win in a thrilling Aggborough encounter.

The travelling side were very much on top in the first part of the game and got their rewards through to Macaulay Langstaff goals, before Harriers reduced the arrears through Joe Foulkes before the break.

Gateshead restored their two-goal lead through Paul Blackett not long after the restart, and while Ashley Hemmings got Harriers back into it at 3-2 with a good header, the hosts were ultimately unable to find another way through.

The team’s luckless run with injuries had continued prior to the game, with Nathan Cameron the latest to miss out on action, a hamstring complaint ruling him out and Keith Lowe taking his place. Penn made two further changes, with Amari Morgan-Smith making his first appearance of the season in place of Nyal Bell who dropped to the bench. Lewis Montrose came in for the suspended Mark Carrington.

Gateshead had looked every bit a promotion chasing side in the early part of the season and they set the tone for their first half with a lightning start; Luke Simpson needed on just three minutes as he had to parry behind a fee-kick that Blackett had got a touch to.

Four minutes later the slick visitors were ahead; the in-form Macaulay Langstaff picking up on a forward ball before bending a cool finish behind the ‘keeper and into the net.

Harriers did rally as the half wore on but, blocked shots from distance aside, never really looked like troubling the Heed, who promptly doubled their lead with 26 on the clock. More clever movement saw Langstaff played in, with the front man this time drilling a firm, angled finish into the net.

The hosts then simply had to sharpen up and did so – after Morgan-Smith forced a fingertip save from the ‘keeper from strong header, their confidence grew. On the stroke of the interval they pulled one back, Foulkes peeling back in the area and gambling on a finish which he headed up and over the grasp of chapman.

Hopes of an immediate levelling of the scores were dashed just seven minutes into the half as Gateshead promptly went and bagged a third. Richards was left exposed as Blackett tried his luck at the far post and, at close range, Simpson made an initial save but couldn’t stop the Heed man nipping behind him to tap the ball home.

A topsy-turvy game never really looked like it would be settled beyond all doubt and ten minutes after going 3-1 down, Harriers once more netted themselves – Hemmings rising well at the far post to nod home a sublime Richards cross.

From there the home side did dominate the remainder of the fixture but, crucially, doing so without really forcing a clear-cut chance with which to equalise. Foulkes did drive one wide after Morgan-Smith saw a header held, but the closest they came was a bullet header from Bajrami that arrowed off target.

Even four minutes of added time were not enough to save the hosts’ unbeaten start to the season.

Harriers: Simpson, Richards, Lowe (Penny 62), Montrose, Austin, Morgan-Smith (Bell 78), Hemmings, Sterling, Foulkes, Martin, Bajrami.

Subs not used: Emery, White, Lissimore.

Attendance: 1,751 Referee: Peter Shacklady