Alfreton Town missed out on £5,000 prize money when Kidderminster Harriers eliminated them from 3-1 the F.A.Trophy at the first hurdle on Saturday.
Dan Bradley scored against his old club for the second time this season to give the Reds an 18th minute advantage, but the visitors replied with three goals to sink Alfreton’s hopes of a second cup run.
Continuous rain may have dampened their enthusiasm and there would undoubtedly have been an eye on the forthcoming televised F.A.Cup tie against Leyton Orient.
With central defenders Leigh Franks and Ross Killock sidelined after the midweek draw at Hyde, Alfreton welcomed Darran Kempson back after injury while a debut was handed to loanee Danny Emerton.
Paul Clayton headed wide at the back post from a second minute Josh Law corner, then Reds’ keeper Jon Stewart held Marvin Johnson’s low drive in the fifth minute.
Stewart then held Anthony Malbon’s 25-yard effort, before Nathan Arnold’s angled drive struck Danny Pilkington to win another corner for the hosts.
Bradley put Alfreton ahead with 18 minutes on the clock after starting the move himself by slipping the ball to Arnold, who in turn fed Daniel Meadows on the right.
His cross was then teed up by Clayton for Bradley to thump a deflected shot past Kidderminster keeper Danny Lewis from 22 yards and notch his eighth goal of the season.
Two minutes later Law had to tidy up after Stewart failed to keep hold of Malbon’s deep cross, then a rasping drive from Meadows scuffed off a Harriers defender for a corner.
The tie was levelled on 34 minutes when a long clearance from Josh Gowling found Pilkington as defenders and keeper hesitated, and he was suddenly left with the simple task of sliding the ball into the net from 15 yards.
Callum Gittings headed wide from a Lee Vaughan cross and Stewart saved from Malbon’s chip, before Theo Streete managed to divert Johnson’s shot behind as Alfreton were pegged back.
A slip in the 42nd minute by Kidderminster defender Mickey Demetriou triggered a hectic goalmouth scramble as Clayton was left free to run into the area and see his shot parried by Lewis.
The loose ball fell to Arnold whose effort was again blocked by the keeper, then it was Meadows’s turn to be thwarted by Gowling before Matty Harriott saw his effort hit Chey Dunkley before being cleared.
Stewart pulled off a brilliant save as Gittings let fly from a Johnson pass, then a Law free-kick almost lured Vaughan into heading past his own keeper as the first half concluded with a flourish of activity.
Seven minutes after the break Kempson’s defensive pass to Stewart saw the keeper try to take a touch too many and he needed to recover quickly as Jamille Matt pounced, then on 59 minutes Matt was guilty of too much footwork as he tried to pick his spot from a clear opening but ended up firing tamely wide.
Stewart saved again from Malbon on 68 minutes, but the keeper gave away a corner that led to Kidderminster taking the lead eight minutes later when he failed to hold a back header from Streete.
Vaughan took the flag-kick that was bundled in at the back post by Dunkley, but the Reds tried to retrieve the situation and Anton Brown headed over from a Law corner after Harriott’s shot had been turned behind by Lewis.
Strong appeals for a penalty when Vaughan appeared to handle Meadows’s 84th minute shot fell on deaf ears, but Harriers swept mercilessly upfield and Keith Briggs’s crossfield pass was swept low past Stewart by Ryan Rowe after cutting in from the left.
Stewart prevented a fourth goal by standing firm to block after Briggs sent Nathan Blissett racing free a minute from time, then Meadows steered the ball the wrong side of the post after being set up by Ben Tomlinson.
ALFRETON: Stewart; Law, Kempson, Streete, Franklin, Harriott [Worsfold 81], Meadows, Bradley, Emerton [Brown 64], Clayton [Tomlinson 57], Arnold. other subs: Quinn, Barnes.