CHRISTMAS came six days early at Bootham Crescent last night as Kidderminster Harriers were gifted three Blue Square Bet Premier points by York City.

First-half defensive howlers saw City suffer their first defeat in 13 league matches despite a valiant attempt to get back into the game after the break.

An unmarked Jack Byrne opened the scoring for the Harriers after just five minutes and, after Aggborough old boy Matty Blair’s fifth goal in as many games, the visitors took command with further efforts from Callum Gittings and Jamille Matt courtesy of blunders by Jon Challinor and Jamal Fyfield.

In the second half, Ashley Chambers then saw a penalty saved before David McGurk headed in the home side’s second goal but it only proved a consolation as the Minstermen went down 3-2.

Top scorer Jason Walker was missing from City’s side with a groin strain, while Daniel Parslow and Chris Smith returned to the bench as manager Gary Mills reverted to his favoured 4-3-3 formation after fielding a 3-5-2 system for the 3-0 FA Trophy victory at Solihull Moors.

Chambers, Andre Boucaud and Danny Pilkington, meanwhile, all earned recalls but a shockingly-sloppy, first-half performance saw the hosts trailing 3-1 by the break.

Caught napping at set-pieces and dominated in general play, in possession the Minstermen also repeatedly surrendered to a Kidderminster team operating at a much higher tempo.

In only the second minute, a failure to react to a quickly-taken free-kick saw City carlessly concede a corner that led to Kyle Storer dragging a 15-yard chance wide of Michael Ingham’s goal.

Seconds later, a stray Fyfield pass from inside his own half was intercepted by Gittings, who charged to the edge of City’s penalty box before firing over.

The first goal came as little surprise, therefore, when it arrived in the fifth minute.

A dubiously-awarded free-kick was swung in from the right flank by Mickey Demetriou and Byrne was left to run untracked and head past Ingham at the far post.

Moments later, Matt forced Ingham into a save after Scott Kerr had given the ball away and Gittings’ deflected shot cleared the crossbar after Paddy McLaughlin had been dispossessed on the edge of the penalty box.

City, though, went on to equalise with their first attack of the match on 20 minutes when Chambers showed a good turn of pace on the right wing before delivering an inviting low cross into the six-yard box, which saw Blair sidefoot in from close range.

But, within seconds of the restart, the Harriers regained their lead when Gittings rode a weak Challinor challenge before firing in off Ingham’s left-hand post.

At the other end, Pilkington’s curling 15-yard shot was parried to safety by Tony Breeden before the hosts conceded another terrible goal on 33 minutes.

Fyfield lost possession again to Matt who set off for goal and, after the City centre-back recovered, sidestepped his challenge before finding Ingham’s bottom left-hand corner from ten yards with a composed finish.

Harriers goalkeeper Breeden was called into action once more before the interval, keeping out Pilkington’s low drive at his near post with McLaughlin hoisting over from the rebound.

Eight minutes into the second period, Mills decided to change tactics, bringing on Adriano Moké and Moses Ashikodi and switching to 4-4-2 with Chambers partnering the latter in attack.

On 63 minutes, City were awarded a penalty when the ball struck Luke Jones’ arm as Chambers looked to cut inside the Harriers’ centre-back following Challinor’s lofted pass.

Chambers took the spot-kick himself but his low drive was pushed away by Breeden.

The Minstermen did reduce the deficit, however, on 67 minutes when McGurk's header from McLaughlin's right-wing corner nestled in the net after glancing off Tom Sharpe's head.

City then went in search of an equaliser with Blair aiming a low shot straight at Breeden but, despite Parslow's late introduction as an emergency striker and Ingham being thrown forward for a corner at the death, the home side could not redress their first-half wrongs.

Match facts

York City 2 (Blair 20, McGurk 67), Kidderminster 3 (Byrne 5, Gittings 21, Matt 33)

York City: Michael Ingham 5, Jon Challinor 5, David McGurk 5, Jamal Fyfield 5, James Meredith 7, Scott Kerr 5, Andre Boucaud 5, Paddy McLaughlin 5, Danny Pilkington 5, Matty Blair 6, Ashley Chambers 6.

Subs: Moses Ashikodi (for Pilkington 53, 5) Adriano Moké (for Boucaud 53, 6) Daniel Parslow (for Chambers 84).
Not used: Oyebanjo, Smith.

Key: 10 – Faultless; 9 – Outstanding; 8 – Excellent; 7 – Good; 6 – Average; 5 – Below par; 4 – Poor; 3 – Dud; 2 – Hopeless; 1 – Retire.

City’s star man: James Meredith – defended and played with an urgency missing from most of his team-mates.

Kidderminster: Tony Breeden, Lee Vaughan, Luke Jones, Tom Sharpe, Jack Byrne, Kyle Storer, Lee Hendrie (Marc Williams 67), Dave Hankin, Jamille Matt (Steve Guinan 88), Callum Gittings (Nick Wright 46).
Subs not used: Mike Williams, Dean Lyness.

Booked: Vaughan 55, Hendrie 62, Breeden 64, Storer 74.

Referee: Tony Harrington (Hartlepool).

Attendance: 2,830 (56 from Kidderminster).