KEVIN Nicholson urged Harriers to step up their Vanarma Conference play-off hopes after scoring a fairytale goal against his former club Torquay United.

Man-of-the-match Marvin Johnson also got on the scoresheet in a well deserved win which lifted ninth-placed Harriers to within a couple of points of a top five slot.

Both goals were notched in the first half before the battling Gulls reduced the deficit on 89 minutes through Aaron Downes For Nicholson it was a particularly memorable encounter in which he was made captain for the day in the absence of sidelined Josh Gowling and Kyle Storer.

And he responded in fine style by collecting his first goal for Harriers against the club he served for seven years before being released in the summer and moving to Aggborough.

His 26th minute strike provided a cherished moment for the delighted 34 year-old left-back, who still lives in Torquay.

He said: “I was looking forward to the match all week. I said a couple of times the challenge was to show Torquay they shouldn't have let me go and I'm in a position where I'm still trying to win over the Kidderminster fans.

“We played well as a team and we weren't carrying any players. We were two up and to be totally honest should have got another one or two.

“As you expect from a team like Torquay they came back into it and gave us a fright at the end. But from my point of view I'm going to enjoy walking around the streets of Torquay this week.

“The Torquay fans were fantastic to me. They gave me a great reception before, during and after the game. I've always had a good relationship with them and now I want to build that with the Kidderminster fans.

“I'm going to be on a little bit of a high for a while now, but it was the kind of game you want to play in and that's the reason I'm doing what I'm doing by coming up here to play. Hopefully I can kick us on to a good run now.”

Boss Gary Whild's assistant Mark Creighton heaped praise on delighted Nicholson for the major contribution he made in what was Harriers' second win in their last six league outings.

Creighton said: “As soon as we pulled him into the office and told him we were going to give him the captain's armband today his eyes lit up. He wanted to do well, not only because he'd got a three and a hour hour drive home, but because it was obviously against his former club.

“When you've been released by a club you want to prove people wrong and I think he did that. He's trying to win over the fans at Kidderminster and I think he's already done that with his performances so far. He's a great honest pro and a great lad in the dressing room.”

Whild's men made a dream start by storming into the lead on four minutes when Johnson gained possession of a crossfield pass from Jamie Grimes before cutting inside and racing past Dale Tonge. His dazzling run ended with him rifling a fierce rising shot past goalkeeper Jordan Seabright.

Harriers, who included new on-loan midfielder Matt Robinson from Luton Town, made it 2-0 when Nicholson scored with a low free kick which crept past a number of players before ending up in the net.

The improved Aggborough outfit were well worth for their half time advantage, but were not so dominant in the second period, although on 66 minutes they almost scored again when Seabright did well to keep out a close range header from Nathan Blissett.

Mid-table Torquay gave themselves a glimmer of hope when Downes headed in a corner from Luke Young, who was then prevented from hitting a stoppage time equaliser by an excellent save from goalkeeper Danny Lewis.

Harriers: Lewis 7; Hodgkiss 7, Dunkley 7, Grimes 7, Nicholson 7; Obeng 7 (Green, 76, 6), Byrne 6, Robinson 7 (Verma, 71, 6), JOHNSON 8 (Gittings, 83); Reid 7, Blissett 7. Subs not used: Singh, Hales.

Torquay: Seabright; Tonge (Pearce, 46), MacDonald, Downes, Cruise; Thompson, Young, Richards, Cameron (Ajala, 63); Bowman, Yeoman (Ofori-Acheampong, 46). Subs not used: Rice, Harding.

Referee: Simon Bennett (Staffs).

Attendance: 2,081 (296 away fans).