ASHLEY Hemmings scored in each half to beat Brackley Town 2-0 in the play-off final to gain promotion to the National League for the first time since 2016. 

The Reds notched a remarkable ninth successive win at St James Park to win just their third ever promotion, and first for 23 years.

Undoubtedly going into the tie in the better form of the two, Harriers had won each of their last six matches of the regular league season before notching three more in the play-offs.

Russ Penn, unsurprisingly, opted to name an unchanged starting eleven for a seventh straight match, and almost had the dream start when Krystian Pearce teed up Amari Morgan-Smith in the area, only for the striker to fire wide with just two minutes on the clock.

After that, Harriers had to weather something of a storm from the home side, Shep Murombedzi going closest with a fizzing effort that Christian Dibble did well to tip over the bar. The goalkeeper them blocked bravely from a close-range shot.

On 13 minutes, though, Harriers were ahead. Capitalising on a mistake in the home back line, the energetic Hemmings pounced and carried the ball the length of the Brackley half before slotting a finish past the outstretched leg of former Harrier Danny Lewis.

The visitors had a real measure of control on the afternoon after that, Hemmings taking aim again four before the restart with an effort that was off target. Moments later, Brackley’s Robinson spurned a rare chance with a shot inside the area that went wide.

Harriers likely knew that a second goal would kill off any lingering Brackley resistance, and that arrived on the hour mark. Morgan-Smith’s towering header set the move in motion, Brown then cleverly turning it into the path of Hemmings who kept his composure before firing an angled drive into the far corner of the net.

Penn’s charges held on for five minutes of added time before the whistle blew to signal their to the top tier of non-league football after a six-year absence.

The Manager said at full time: “I don’t know what the game was like, I don’t care!

“I am just delighted for the football club because we’ve worked really hard post-Christmas to give us some respect because we were nowhere near it.

“We’ve gone all the way, which is just amazing. We’ve had some great support and we’ve stuck together.

“You couldn’t have written a better story.”