Kidderminster bounced back from their heaviest defeat of the season last weekend by inflicting on Fleet their own heaviest reverse as they eased into the last 16 of the Buildbase FA Trophy.
Two first-half goals in four minutes put paid to Fleet’s challenge and in truth there was little opportunity for any kind of comeback after that.
Fleet were without Andy Drury and Dave Winfield who had picked up knocks at Wealdstone so in came Jack Connors and Sam Deering, while Darren McQueen got the nod ahead of Bradley Bubb.
Kidderminster attacked from the whistle and inside the first two minutes had scythed through the Fleet rearguard, Sam Austin finding Andre Brown who slipped between two defenders and swept a shot against the crossbar.
The home side looked bright but Fleet held them off and began to establish more of a midfield presence, restricting Harriers to some neat play 30 yards out.
But in Tyrone Williams and Austin, the home side carried a quick threat down the right flank and Connors had his work cut out keeping them in check. McQueen denied Williams in one threatening attack inside the box and on 16 minutes Nathan Ashmore pulled off a fine leaping save from a dipping shot by Austin.
Fleet had a couple of efforts, Jack Powell seeing a shot blocked and a 19th minute free kick that shaved the post. Moments later Deering glanced a header from close range that was probably his side’s best opportunity before Harriers stepped up a gear.
Darryl Knights fizzed a low shot just wide before the home side enjoyed a period in the ascendancy from 20 minutes, James McQuilken in the middle driving them on. The first goal came as little surprise on 35 minutes and it arrived on the left flank this time. Debutante Yeovil loanee Josh Ezewele embarked on a solo run and without a firm tackle on him, he was able to advance to the byline and slot the ball past Ashmore.
The second goal followed four minutes later but that had an element of good fortune about it. From a central position 20 yards out, McQuilken drilled a routine shot towards goal that veered off in the other direction after a touch by Williams and Ashmore could do little about it, having committed himself to a dive the other way.
From that point, McMahon had Stuart Lewis and Sean Shields warming up and it was little surprise when they were introduced at the beginning of the second half. However, neither player was able to make an impact and though Fleet managed to blunt Harriers progress down the flanks, goalkeeper Alex Palmer was largely untroubled.
On 51 minutes, Anthony Cook took advantage of some ponderous defending from Ezewele and broke from the right to tee up McQueen but though the striker’s shot was on target it lacked power and Palmer was behind it. From the hour mark Harriers were back on their game and where their wingers had eased up, it was the turn of strikers Arthur Gnahoua and Andre Brown to take centre stage.
Ashmore had to make two saves from Gnahoua, the first a decent stretch to push away a shot on target and the Kidderminster top scorer then should have done better with a close-range header that he sent low and Ashmore was able to scoop it out of the six-yard box.
Fleet might have thought they’d get some respite when Gnahoua went off on 66 minutes but four minutes after that, Harriers put the game to bed. Knights crossed for Brown 10 yards out and without a challenge, the No.9 was able to turn and strike low past Ashmore for 3-0.
The visitors were well beaten by that stage but managed a few efforts on goal, with Cook hooking a shot just over the upright and Lewis seeing a decent effort deflected behind for a corner. Other than that it was a routine afternoon for the Harriers’ defence who had their midfield to thank for effectively clamping down on the Fleet and orchestrating the game from start to finish.
EUFC: Ashmore, Cook, Connors, Phillips, McCoy, Clark, Rance, Deering (Shields 46), Kedwell, McQueen (Bubb 69), Powell (Lewis 46). Subs: Miles, Johnson
KHFC: Palmer, Williams, Ezewele (Truslove 60), Croasdale (Thomas 73), Lowe, Tunnicliffe, Austin, McQuilkin, Brown, Knights, Gnahoua (Ngwatala 66). Subs: Dieseruwe, Waite