The Harriers climbed just the one place in the table following this easy victory against struggling Grays Athletic but that one place was enough to take them within two points of Kettering following their home defeat against Weymouth. Cambridge's failure to get anything more than a scoreless draw at home to Rushden also helped the Harriers cause no end.
A brace of goals from Justin Richards and Matthew Barnes-Homer gained us the points and also a debut for Martin Riley helped to keep things tight at the back. Riley was in the side due to the three game ban for Luke Jones following his sending off at Kings Lynn last Saturday.
Grays came to Aggborough without an away win all season. Along with struggling near the bottom, poor crowds and a 50% pay cut for players they seem to be a club heading for a lower league.
They bought in two players on Friday, both non contract, but of the two only Scott Forrester played and Jamie Slabber was no where to be seen.
In freezing conditions the game kicked off with the Harriers going all out to grab an early lead. A free kick, on the edge of the area, was well struck by Martin Brittain and went only inches wide of the post and into the side netting.
Justin Richards followed up with two near misses when he should really have done better. The first when
Brian Smikle and Matthew Barnes-Homer combined to set him up but he could only drag his shot wide and then he headed the ball over from a Brittain corner.
Russ Penn then collected Barnes-Homers pass and was about to fire a ball in but slipped at the crucial moment. He tried to find another Harriers player as he lay on the ground but when he did it was too late and the resulting cross from Brittain failed to find a target.
Grays were showing glimpses of their style of play from former years with some neat passing but luckily for us there was no end product and the only player showing any sign of wanting to score was Forrester. He had a chance twenty minutes in but his shot went well wide of the target.
The game went quiet for a while and we changed things round slightly with Brittain going to the right side of the pitch instead of playing too far inside.
Brian Smikle fluffed a chance to score when he hesitated after being given the ball by Russ Penn. Left with just the keeper, David Button, to beat he seemed to be unsure of which foot to strike the ball with and when he finally managed to shoot the keeper was ready and smothered the ball easily.
Mark Creighton was the next to try and break the deadlock when we were awarded a corner but his header, from Brittains kick, was tipped over the bar by Button.
The goal we had been longing for finally arrived just five minutes before the break. Another corner, taken yet again by Brittain, was this time converted with a header from Richards who sent the ball back across the goal towards the far post and into the net. That goal put Justin into double figures on the scoresheets.