With all the turmoil of the points deduction and a suspended fine during the week it was important that Steve Burrs men went for maximum points from this game against struggling Gateshead. The hosts went into this game on the back of a 5-1 drubbing at Southport last Monday so they had reasons enough of their own to win the game.
We were without the suspended Mark Albrighton and defender Lee Vaughan who was struggling with a flu bug. Tom Sharpe had overcome his flu and returned to the side in place of Albrighton while Mike Williams started his first game since his foot operation.
Gateshead had just the one former Harrier playing for them. Martin Brittain was out wide but Andy Ferrell was not even named for the bench and Craig Nelthorpe was suspended. They gave debuts to three loan players in Joan Edmundsson, James Tavernier and Michael Liddle.
It was Liddle, on loan from Sunderland, that opened the scoring for them in the sixteenth minute when he latched onto Kris Gates back heel to swerve the ball beyond the reach of Danny Lewis in the Harriers goal. The goal came as a blow following efforts two efforts from Chris McPhee that had tested the Gateshead keeper Tim Deasy.
We didn't get knocked back by the goal and retaliated with another chance that went begging for McPhee from a fine Matty Blair cross. Blair set up Callum Gittings seconds after but his partner on the other wing blazed his shot over the bar.
We were soon back on level terms and it was that man Blair again but this time as scorer and not supplier. He raced onto Chris McPhee's pass and then stroked the ball past Tim Deasy with ease. Two minutes later and we had taken the lead.
McPhee again set the chance up with another superb ball this time to Nick Wright. He raced past James Curtis to send the ball towards Wright who cheekily back heeled the ball past Deasy to record his second goal in as many games.
Gateshead didn't give up though and straight away they went in search of the equaliser. Michael Briscoe got in front of Edmundsson just as he was about to meet Tavernier's cross and then Jon Shaw raced past the static Harriers defence but Danny Lewis got there just in time to thwart the chance. Gate was the next to try when he shot from close range but with only the keeper to beat he put the ball well wide.
We went into the break just about holding onto the slender lead but looking good value for all three points.