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Kidderminster Harriers 3 Hyde 0
KIDDERMINSTER Harriers may still only be two points above the Blue Square Bet Premier relegation zone but you would not have been able to tell from tonight’s performance.
Steve Burr’s men put bottom-of-the-table Hyde to the sword 3-0 and while a play-off challenge is some distance away, they must surely not languish anywhere near the bottom four for much longer.
Harriers have now gone nine games unbeaten but six of those have been draws so it was crucial they picked up three points against fellow strugglers and did it convincingly.
They looked generally solid at the back with keeper Nathan Vaughan not putting a foot wrong, while target-man Nathan Blissett, two-goal Ryan Rowe and classy loan signing Adam Watkins linked attack and midfield superbly.
Hyde lacked the physical presence and composure to stamp their authority on the game with the alert Vaughan saving well from Liam Tomsett, David Poole and Scott Spencer when they did threaten.
Harriers bossed the first-half and pressed high up the pitch to force mistakes from last season’s North Division champions who fell into the hosts’ trap.
The rangy Blissett, who rarely missed a flick-on, caused confusion in the Hyde defence which eventually led to the withdrawal of centre-half Ben Dennis to injury after colliding with his keeper Ashley Firth.
But, in the meantime, midfielder James Vincent collected a tidy lay-off from Blissett and strode forward to crash a low 20-yard drive with Firth helping it into the corner of the net on 16 minutes.
The confidence flowed through Harriers after the opener and defender Chey Dunkley nodded against the bar from Mickey Demetriou’s wicked centre.
Part-time Hyde’s lack of composure reared its ugly head on 23 minutes, gifting Harriers a key second goal.
Rowe’s persistence was rewarded as the uncomfortable Firth scuffed a clearance straight to the striker who needed no second invitation, running on to convert coolly from an acute angle.
Watkins, borrowed from Luton, looked an impressive link man in front of midfield minder Keith Briggs and went close on two occasions, forcing a save with a header and striking a low shot against the post from the edge of the area.
Hyde, sent out early during the break, did contest a closer second period with substitute Stefan Cox causing left-back Demetriou a few worrying moments.
But Harriers closed out the game without too much trouble and Rowe, denied by Firth in the early stages of the half, put the icing on the cake four minutes into injury-time by drilling home replacement Kyle Storer’s fine through-ball.
The one downside for the Aggborough men was the departure of dominant defender Josh Gowling, who was stretchered off on 73 minutes with what appeared to be a leg injury.
Hopefully, Gowling will be back soon as Harriers seem to have built a more solid defensive base and just need to be more clinical at the other end, Rowe apart after six goals in four games.
Their second 3-0 home win in a row, following a success over higher-placed Macclesfield Town, will certainly ease fans' concerns after a calamitous start to the campaign.
Harriers: N Vaughan; L Vaughan, Gowling (M Williams 73), Dunkley, Demetriou; Vincent (Storer 78), Briggs, Watkins; Rowe, Blissett, Malbon (Johnson 67). Subs not used: Lewis, Peniket.
Hyde: Firth; Brizell, Ashworth, Dennis (Pearson 20), Lomax; Poole, Moses (Jevons 56), Byrne (Cox 56), Tomsett, Crowther; Spencer. Subs not used: Brown, R Williams.
Attendance: 1,457 (36 away fans).