Shrewsbury 4, Harriers 2

Mat Kendrick reports from Gay Meadow

TWO years ago Shrewsbury Town were relegated from the Football League with the worst defensive record of all the 92 clubs after shooting themselves in the foot time and time again.

And the feeling among most of the 5,309 spectators at Saturday's Shropshire-Worcestershire de-rby was that the Gay Meadow men have finally found their natural successors.

Step forward Kidderminster Harriers. While their local rivals have all but secured their survival by keeping it tight at the back, Harriers' latest shocking concessions could see them conceding defeat in their bid to stay up.

It is unfair to ever describe Stuart Watkiss as being beaten, but the manager's mood and body language at 5pm on Saturday was that of a broken man.

After half an hour Kidderminster were cruising and its no exaggeration to say they were in the most comfortable position they had been in any match this season.

With Shrewsbury slow out of the blocks, Harriers got off to a storming start and fully deserved the two goal lead given to them by Chris Beardsley and Blair Sturrock.

Beardsley's poacher's goal came on 13 minutes when he was the quickest to react to tuck in the rebound from close range after Sturrock's curled volley came back of the post.

And Sturrock doubled the scoring with a fine finish of his own on 27 minutes when he received a pass from Ian Foster and stroked in a measured shot from 15 yards with no backlift whatsoever.

With confidence coursing through the Kidderminster team Foster would have virtually killed off the game moments later had he not dragged a great chance into the turf and onto defender Stuart Whitehead's head when it seemed easier to score from a John McGrath cross. McGrath himself was roundly booed by the sizeable home crowd every time he touched the ball after his pre-match comments that Kidderminster are a better club than Shrewsbury.

But during one of his best performances in a Harriers shirt, the former Gay Meadow loan man nearly rammed their jeers down their throats with a wonder goal.

Seeing goalkeeper Scott Howie off his line, the Irish left-footer unleashed an audacious 40 yard volley which dipped agonisingly over the bar.

It was the Shrewsbury supporters however who were to have the last laugh as from a position of power, Harriers conspired to shoot themselves in the foot.

Never mind turning a corner, until they can defend one, Kidderminster are well and truly doomed.

Watkiss was right in his assessment that Harriers have not shipped many goals from setpieces during his reign but on Saturday it seemed Shrewsbury would score from every dead ball situation.

So lame was Kidderminster's defending from setpieces it got to the stage where the Shropshire side had a second half penalty appealwhen Tom Bennett upended Jake Sedgemore . Town's revival started on 33 minutes when stand-in skipper Darren Moss was allowed the freedom of the six yard box to head in Jamie Tolley's left wing flag kick.

And the supposedly strongest Harriers defence of the season were similarly static when Moss scrambled in Neil Ashton's right sided corner from six yards six minutes later.

They had the ball in the net from another corner soon after only for defender Dave Walton's header to be ruled out for a push, but that was merely delaying the inevitable.

On the stroke of half time, man of the match Moss swung over a measured ball from the right and former Kidderminster targetman Kelvin Langmead was allowed to wriggle free to plant a diving header past John Danby - with his celebration as ill-advised as it was over-the-top.

With every last drop of inspiration completely sapped out of Stuart Watkiss's men the second half was a damp squib as scourge of Kidderminster Luke Rodgers broke a 17 match goal drought to score the fourth after Sam Aiston skinned Johnny Mullins.

SHREWSBURY: Howie, Moss (Edwards 89), Challis, Walton, Whitehead (Tinson 69), Tolley, Aiston (O'Connor), Ashton, Sedgemore, Langmead, Rodgers. Subs not used: Hart, Lowe, Edwards.

HARRIERS: Danby 6, Mullins 5, Weaver 5, Jackson 5, Hatswell 5, Foster 5 (Russell 70, 6), MCGRATH 8, Bennett 5, Cozic 6, Sturrock 7, Beardsley 7. Subs not used: Lewis, Jones, Jenkins, Birch.

REFEREE: Lee Mason (Cheshire).