HARRIERS fell to a sorry 1-0 defeat to relegation rivals Blyth Spartans in what was a must-win game at Aggborough.

A sublime strike from the visitors early in the second half was enough to hand Blyth, who are struggling in the relegation zone, all three points and a rare win.

The result pulled Jimmy Shan's Harriers back into the dog-fight near the foot of National League North thanks to three successive defeats. Worse still, the showing came before a solid turnout of 1,500 at Aggborough after fans responded to a reduction in prices for the day.

The Reds went into the game boosted by the return of Ashley Chambers to the squad as he was given a place on the bench, while Keith Lowe slotted into the starting eleven after re-signing for Harriers the prior afternoon. Rhys Williams and Ryan Johnson both missed the match due to suspension, with Declan Weeks still missing through injury.

Despite their relatively poor season so far, it was actually Spartans who began the game far the brighter of the two sides; Roberts forcing goalkeeper Mannion into a slow save with just a couple of minutes on the clock. 

Ollie Shenton went close to bagging a goal after taking the ball down superbly on 12 minutes before flashing a shot wide, before Williams also hit off target. Great ingenuity and work-rate from Freemantle almost saw the teenager rewarded with a goal soon after, but his shot was blocked at the last.

Six after the half-hour, Butterfield was twice denied by blocks as he tried to force the ball home at close range, with Freemantle nodding over just after.

Any momentum Harriers had been building before the break  was well and truly vanquished ten after the restart when Hawkins twisted around Butterfield with ease before rifling an effort up and over Mannion and into the net.

Though Higginson and Austin had half sights of goal to respond, and Hemmings saw one effort tipped around the post, Harriers never truly looked like mustering a serious challenge to Blyth's control of the game until the very final seconds. Hemmings took a free kick on the edge of the area and drove it through a crowd of bodies before seeing it parried by the goalkeeper - right into the path of Peniket, who crashed it straight back into his chest.

HARRIERS: Mannion, Williams (Davidson 52), Austin, Higginson, Moyo, Lowe, Butterfield, Prosser, Shenton (Peniket 80), Hemmings, Freemantle (Chambers 68). 

Unused subs: Palmer, Digie

Attendance: 1,532