RUSS Penn slammed his team’s sorry showing in a 4-0 defeat to Gateshead on Saturday as the league leaders brushed Harriers aside.

Penn admitted his team were second best throughout up in the north east, the Heed dishing out a thumping as the Reds suffered their biggest defeat of the season.

It is also the first time since October Harriers have suffered back-to-back defeats in National League North.

Mike Williamson’s side moved some 11 points clear of Harriers with the win, and the Aggborough boss more than gave them their due – but was adamant his side were capable of much more than they showed on the day.

He explained: “Yes, we know Gateshead are a good team, but we have shown today, for the first time in two-and-a-half-years since I’ve been manager of the football club, a vulnerability that’s not good enough, embarrassing and a cause for concern.

“Albeit [playing against] top of the league, I don’t care. We haven’t played Real Madrid today; we’ve played Gateshead and that’s what’s disappointing for me.

“It just wasn’t our day, and we weren’t at it. I thought the first 15 minutes was a good game and we created chances ourselves.

“But as soon as the first goal went in, disappointingly by the way, we kind of folded a bit and shrunk, which is not good.”

Harriers did have the first chance of the game after just three minutes when Omari Sterling angled wide when put through on goal.

Barring one Nathan Cameron header that was all the visitors saw of the home goal, soundly outplayed and all but out of the game by half time.

The first Gateshead goal came on 20 minutes when Caleb Richards stumbled in dealing with Macauley Langstaff, allowing the marksman to squeeze home a finish. More poor defending when two men on the line couldn’t stop Greg Olley from forcing the ball home on 38 minutes after a good Simpson save.

Any positivity brought about by the start of the second half for Harriers was banished when Langstaff bagged his second with a smartly-taken finish across goal, before Taylor Charters completed the rout with almost 25 minutes left to play.

The October run in which Harriers last suffered consecutive defeats included a loss to Gateshead before a reverse against AFC Fylde.

Following this trip to the Heed, it’s the once again the Coasters next up, with Penn keen to get back in the saddle as quickly as possible. “We’re up there on merit but we won’t be for long if we play like that.

“We’ll train hard and prepare for Fylde at home. These boys, myself and the staff have had a lot of good this season and been praised and backed to the moon and back.

“This is when we need them the most and we need a reaction big time, as a group of players and staff as that wasn’t acceptable today and I won’t let it happen again.”

Harriers v AFC Fylde is a 3pm kick-off at Aggborough on Saturday, 12th March.