KIDDERMINSTER HARRIERS fell to a 2-1 defeat to Chester in their opening National League North clash of the season.

The drama was far from confined to the three goals, as the night saw both teams end a man light courtesy of a second off for each.

Looking to respond following their FA Cup exit at the hands of Alvechurch at the weekend, Manager Russ Penn kept faith with the same starting eleven for the visit of the Blues.

Early chances were at a premium at Aggborough, with Harriers getting something of a let off as Simon Grand saw a thumping header fire just over the bar.

Harriers thought they'd had the opener with just ten on the clock, though they were thwarted by an offside flag as Ashley Hemmings stabbed the ball home from close range.

On 22 minutes Chester broke the deadlock through the experienced and accomplished Danny Elliott, a dangerous ball into the area deftly swept home on the turn to again leave Harriers chasing a game.

The response was good, however, and six minutes later the hosts were on level terms as a dangerous low cross from Sterling was tidied away smartly by Hemmings for his second goal of the term.

The game's first dismissal game on 38 minutes – Amari Morgan-Smith had looked to catch Danny Livesey with a hand when challenging for a ball, but a lengthy delay before the subsequent red card seemed to suggest the striker had been given his marching orders for something that had been said in the aftermath.

Harriers did come out brightly after the restart but were undone by a former face when Declan Weeks crashed them back into the lead within ten minutes, taking a touch in the area before firing on a tight angle into the  top corner of Luke Simpson’s net.

In control, Chester then saw themselves reduced to ten men as Paddy Lacy saw red for a late challenge on Sterling, a turning point that allowed Harriers to finish very much on top – Jaiden White coming on and seeing an effort turned over within just a couple of minutes.

There was always going to be at least one big chance for Penn’s charges to snatch a leveller, and that came with just three minutes left of normal time – White was lively and saw his low shot turned on to the post, before Ethan Freemantle’s follow-up was miraculously cleared off the line by a covering defender.

Harriers will need to pick themselves up to gear up for a lengthy trip next time out, they head to Darlington on Saturday (3:00pm).

Harriers: Simpson, Penny, Richards, Lowe, Montrose, Austin (White 78), Morgan-Smith, Hemmings (Freemantle 67), Sterling, Taylor, Prosser.

Subs not used: Arthur, Martin, Palmer.

Referee: Greg Rollason