National League North form continues to evade Harriers after they slipped to a 1-0 defeat in the Boxing Day defeat at Hereford.

Neil MacFarlane’s men had the best of the play and the lion’s share of the chances at Edgar Street, but ended up leaving empty handed thanks to a late home penalty after Ryan Johnson fouled his man inside the area.

The result leaves the men from Aggborough desperately searching for the kind of form that propelled them to the higher reaches of the table back in the early Autumn, chances from Declan Weeks and Ashley Chambers as close as they came.

Harriers went into the game making one change from their draw against Curzon Ashton – Billy Daniels, after a couple of games out, returned to the starting line-up. He replaced Russ Penn in the eleven, with Penn dropping to the bench.

There was also a spot among the substitutes for club skipper Jimmy O’Connor after a battle with injury.

After a fraught beginning that saw little being given away by either side, Hereford had the first chance of the day when Symons was played on to a loose ball, only to see his effort snuffed out. Harriers ought to have punished the Bulls but, on 15 minutes, his powerful header crashed wide from a corner.

Hereford broke away with gusto with eight to go until the break when Lloyd cut inside and forced a good save from Brandon Hall, before Weeks’ rasping free-kick caught home goalkeeper Yates off guard, palming the ball up into the air before it dropped over the bar.

The second half saw a flurry of chances, one within 50 seconds of the restart after Owen-Evans drove at goal keeping Hall honest, Bradley forcing Yates into a similar parry five minutes later. The hour mark came and went with Horsfall seeing a header deflected off target.

As the half wore on, Harriers appeared to have the upper hand with some fast-paced play, but were unable to find a way past the home defence – punished when Johnson leaned into Symons inside the area to the award of a penalty that Roberts stepped up to convert.

There would be one gilt-edged chance for Harriers to draw level as another incisive break saw Williams play in Chambers, only for the forward’s low shot to be blocked by a lively and alert Yates between the sticks.

When Chambers was fouled by Yates in the 91st minute there was a chance for Weeks, but his free-kick was straight at the goalkeeper who held on.

HARRIERS: Hall, Vaughan, Austin, Daniels (Penn 39), Horsfall, Johnson, Weeks, Richards (Waring 66), Chambers, Bradley (Baxendale 77), Williams.

Subs not used: O’Connor, Phillips.

Attendance: 3,210 Referee: Sam Mulhall