A NIGHTMARE spell at the start of the second half saw Harriers dumped out of the FA Cup thanks to a 4-2 defeat at National League AFC Fylde.

So often Harriers are dealt a pre-match blow with news of a new injury or absentee but, for once, this game at Mill Farm presented the team with a rare day off in that respect – rather there was actually some good news to enjoy as John Eustace and his staff welcomed back two key players.

Jimmy O’Connor, suspended against Stockport County last time out, slotted back into the defence, as did James Pearson who had been injured over the last couple of weeks.

Further encouragement came on the bench where Liam Truslove, a long-term injury absentee, made the squad for the first time since the summer months.

It was a half that the home side began strongly, while the visitors finished it the brighter – the difference, though, was Danny Rowe’s goal, coming with the first real chance of the day as he made short work of the Harriers defence before firing calmly into the bottom corner of the net.

It was certainly not the only effort of the period, by a long stretch. Andre Wright and Joe Ironside saw half chances come and go for their team while, on 27 minutes, only inches stood between O’Connor and a maiden Harriers goal as he missed out on an Ironside knock-back inside the area.

Andy Bond might’ve doubled Fylde’s lead ten before the break as Hall held his shot – two big chances coming Harriers’ way before the interval as Horsfall and Pearson went dangerously close with headers from McQuikin free-kicks.

Fylde looked to come out and finish off Harriers early and, within two minutes of the restart, they got a second goal – again a little too easy for Rowe as he was allowed time and space to settle on a loose ball in the area as it was driven into the box, planting it beyond Hall.

That began a nightmare spell for Harriers who conceded a further two goals – three in around a quarter-hour – as Fylde wrestled true control of the game, Smith making it 3-0 as he waltzed the length of the Harriers half before finishing in off the post, before Finley was teed up by Smith before adding to the tally.

Harriers did have their second half chances – twice hitting the bar and forcing some saves – but in the end, a well-taken goal from Taylor and a close-range finish from Brown were goals acting only as consolations for the visitors.

Harriers: Hall, Pearson, Horsfall, Pearson, Taylor, Croasdale, McQuilkin, Ngwatala, Wright (Brown 60), Ironside, Sonupe (Weeks 70).

Subs not used: Finch, Danko, Truslove, Williams, Austin.

Attendance: 1,480 Referee: Danny Middleton