STOCKPORT County suffered a 1-0 loss at home to Kidderminster Harriers as the visitors captalised in a game with few clear cut chances.
Kidderminster’s Ryan Croasdale swept home the only goal of the game in the 65th minute following a fine cross from James McQuilkin to round off a great week for the Worcestershire side, following their midweek 2-0 win at Harrogate Town.
Stockport, who began the day in ninth, were missing both top scorer Danny Lloyd and frontman Josh Amis due to knocks so boss Jim Gannon brought in Kayode Odejayi and John Marsdon to replace them.
Kidderminster, who were fifth prior to kick-off, kept an unchanged side from their win over the Yorkshire side.
The first half started in feisty fashion, with a strong challenge in the first minute from Kidderminster’s captain Keith Lowe leaving Gary Stopforth requiring medical attention.
The resulting free kick from James Hooper forced a fine save from goalkeeper Samuel Hornby as he tipped it round the post.
County continued to dominate the opening minutes, Hooper’s shot from the edge of the box watched closely by Hornby, who got his body behind it to prevent an early goal.
Harriers full-back Tyrone Williams earned the first booking of the game in the 12th minute after a strong challenge on Marsden, with the home crowd appealing vociferously for Williams to see red.
Stockport had arguably their best chance in the 17th minute, Hornby pulling off a point blank stop to deny County’s number 10 Marsden from opening the scoring, after a relatively tame shot.
Both sides found clear cut chances hard to come by, with Kidderminster’s clearest chance coming on the brink of half time; Stockport keeper Ben Hinchliffe denying Harriers forward Arthur Gnahoua with his feet after some impressive wing play on the left from full-back Zaine Francis-Angol.
Kidderminster found plenty of space down their right side, with full-back Williams and winger Tyrell Waite linking up nicely, although they failed to fashion any meaningful chances.
County themselves found more luck through the middle, with a great interception from Montrose leading to a swift counter attacking move, Hooper failing to capitalise shooting right at Hornby.
HT: Stockport County 0-0 Kidderminster
The second half saw County begin brightly, with a period of sustained pressure in and around the Kidderminster box.
However they appeared susceptible on the break, consecutive corners for County leading to a counter attack led by Waite, though his eventual effort ballooned way off target.
The Harriers restricted the Stockport attack well, although that didn’t stop Hooper having a crack from 25 yards.
His venomous strike was tipped over the bar by Hornby, the Kidderminster keeper taking no chances.
As the 60th minute approached, Kidderminster took more of a foothold in the game.
Their clever passing and interplay in the midfield meant County saw less and less of the ball, often finding themselves pegged back in their own half.
It was this quality in the middle of the park which led to the opening goal.
A clever ball was fed through to McQuilkin, and his cut back cross from the left side of the box was slotted home confidently by Croasdale.
The goal seemed to spur the Harriers on, with Hinchliffe punching away a strong header from Liam Truslove not long after.
Stockport weathered the storm, and in the final 10 minutes it was all County.
The Kidderminster box was peppered with crosses, shots and corners.
This pressure maybe should have led to a penalty for the Hatters, with the ball appearing to bounce off the forearm of one of the Kidderminster defenders.
However they couldn’t find the equaliser, and they had keeper Hinchliffe to thank for keeping it at 1-0, rushing off his line to deny Kidderminster substitute Andre Brown, who found himself in acres of space right at the death of the match.
The victory pushes the Harriers up to third in the Vanarama National League North standings, whilst Stockport have slipped to 11th, two places and two points behind local rivals Salford City.
Stockport host Woking FC next week at Edgeley Park in the Emirates FA Cup First Round, whilst Kidderminster are away to League Two Blackpool in the same competition.
Stockport County: Hinchliffe, Ross (c), Cartwright, Montrose (81′ Carney), Clarke, Smalley, Minihan, Stopforth, Odejayi (68′ Ball), Marsden, Hooper
Subs: Meppen-Walters, Ormson, Carney, Ball, West.
Kidderminster Harriers: Hornby, Lowe (c), Tunnicliffe, Francis-Angol, Williams, Croasdale, Truslove (74′ Carter), McQuilkin, Diesweuvwe (78′ Brown), Waite (87′ Austin), Gnahoua.
Subs: Palmer, Austin, Stambolziev, Brown, Carter
Referee: David McNamara
By Russell Edge