Stags slip to Kiddy defeat
Goals from Mickey Demetriou and Lee Vaughan earned Kidderminster Harriers all three points and consigned Mansfield Town to their third home defeat of the season.
The Stags, who were second best for large periods, struggled to re-produce their brave performance from last weekend’s FA Cup Third Round tie against Liverpool.
Following a quiet start to the game, Matt Green almost repeated his magic of six days ago, as he unleashed a powerful low drive that clipped Danny Lewis’ left-hand post on six minutes.
Nevertheless, Kidderminster, located four places and six points above their opponents in the league table prior to kick-off, soon enjoyed their first chance as Demetriou blazed over from a free-kick.
Mansfield looked a pale shadow of the side that battled so bravely for long periods against Liverpool and were constantly worried as the Harriers attacked with venom.
Steve Burr’s men came within inches of an opener when Anthony Malbon screwed an effort narrowly over the target after James Vincent had exceptionally cut inside from the left flank.
The Stags conjured up a short-lived period of pressure on the quarter-hour mark, as both Anthony Howell and Green saw close-range shots blocked in the six-yard box, before Lindon Meikle won a corner.
Chris Clements subsequent left-sided delivery into the area was partially cleared by Vaughan at the near-post, which allowed Meikle to fire straight at Lewis.
Howell also saw an effort blocked by the legs of the Harriers custodian in a separate attack, but Kidderminster, who looked particularly dangerous down the flanks, continued to see more of the ball.
And it was a combination of their possession and attacking threat that saw them win a free-kick right on the edge of the area when Lee Beevers brought down Callum Gittings.
Despite the ball being located in a very central position, Demetriou stepped up and unleashed a deadly strike that flew beyond Marriott into the bottom right-hand corner.
Not satisfied with a one goal advantage, Kiddy nearly doubled their lead within a minute of play re-starting as Ryan Rowe fired straight at Marriott from the edge of the area.
Vincent then slid a fabulous defence-splitting pass into the path of Malbon on 25 minutes, and after the striker exquisitely turned Exodus Geohaghon, his powerful drive was palmed away by Marriott.
But Mansfield’s respite was short-lived as Vaughan peeled into empty space and ruthlessly struck the ball with pin-point precision beyond Marriott from six yards.
The Stags almost reduced arrears when Dempster’s powerful header drew a fingertip save from Lewis, which led to Vaughan crashing against the post as he cleared the resulting loose ball.
Kidderminster could have put the result beyond doubt shortly before half-time when Demetriou crept in from nowhere at the back-post and headed against the frame of Marriott’s goal.
Mansfield desperately needed a goal to establish hope, and it almost came in stoppage-time at the end of the first period when Green’s sumptuous 25-yard strike rattled the woodwork.
Stags’ boss Paul Cox made two substitutions at the break as Ritchie Sutton and Junior Daniel were introduced to the action in favour of John Thompson and Louis Briscoe respectively.
But it was the visitors who continued to look the more dangerous side after the re-start, with both Malbon and Marvin Johnson wasting chances to add a third goal.
The hosts lacked any serious creativity within their play; the approach of pumping endless balls into the area, being gratefully accepted by a resolute Harriers defence.
After a lengthy period of frustration, Meikle caught a rare glimpse of goal when he cut inside from the left side on the hour mark, but his long-range strike turned round the post by Lewis.
Geohaghon was also denied by the Kiddy ‘keeper after Daniel floated a fine ball towards the back post, as the lingering sense of defeat became more inevitable with each passing minute.
Nevertheless, the Harriers had to see out the final 16 minutes with just ten men as Sean Clancy was dismissed for a horrendous tackle on Lee Beevers, which left the Stags defender in agony.
But Kidderminster held on to record their ninth win in ten Blue Square Bet Premier games.
Attendance: 2,405 (visiting supporters 208).