Guttridge 27, 86, Benson 52, Howells 55, 70, Griffiths 79
The Town stormed to the top of the Skrill Premier after hitting Kidderminster for six at a packed-out Kenilworth Road.
Two goals each for Luke Guttridge and Jake Howells plus further strikes from Paul Benson and Scott Griffiths made it 10 home wins on the spin and extended the unbeaten league run to 17 matches.
The result, allied with Cambridge’s 0-0 draw at Nuneaton, lifted the Town to top spot for the first time this season.
In front of a season’s best 8,488, the Town didn’t always have it all their own way. Indeed up until Guttridge’s 27th-minute opener it had been an open game.
Harriers, who came into the game without an away win since mid-October came close to taking the lead and only a stupendous save from Mark Tyler kept out Joe Lolley’s top-corner-bound shot on 20 minutes as visitors pressed in an end-to-end first third of the match.
The Town, though, began to dominate and Guttridge fired the Hatters ahead. He played a smart one-two with Benson to tee-up Matt Robinson for a shot. Robinson’s effort was well-saved by Danny Lewis, the Kiddy keeper, but Guttridge was on hand to control and fire home his eighth goal of the season from eight yards.
With their noses in front, one almost became two on 36 minutes for the Hatters but Lewis pulled off a superb one-handed save to prevent Lawless’s low shot from putting the Hatters further in front.
Loan star Pelly Ruddock was forced off in the latter stages of the first period and was replaced by Howells, and the Town substitute wasted no time in making an impact in the second half. After running down the left Howells clipped an inch-perfect cross into the path of Benson and the 34-year-old’s head did the rest, rising to nod past Lewis for his 10th goal for the Town.
2-0 on 52 minutes it was 3-0 three minutes later. Andre Gray found Benson with impudent flick of a pass but Benson, haring into the box, was brought down by Chey Dunkley. The result was a penalty and a red card for the visiting defender. Howells stepped up to beat Lewis from 12 yards.
Tyler made another excellent save on the hour, this time denying Michael Gash’s 25-yard volley, but a man up and three goals up the Town were in cruise control, and Benson should have made it 4-0 on 66 minutes but could only head wide of the target from six yards after Robinson’s fine right-cross.
Shots were raining in on the Harriers goal from all angles but the Hatters did make it 4-0 with 20 minutes left to play when Benson’s header from a cross from Gray found its way to the feet of Howells, and he tucked home a finish high into the roof of the net. All four of Howells’ goals this season have come against Kidderminster.
Lawless rifled a shot over the bar on 74 minutes as gaps continued to appear in the Kiddy defence, and the Town made it 5-0 with 11 minutes left when Griffiths rose to head Guttridge’s left-wing free-kick. It was his first goal for the club.
By now it was ole stuff from the Town, and Guttridge finished off a fine passing move in the 86th minute to complete the scoring and cap a fine afternoon’s work which ensured the Hatters start 2014 at the top of the table.
TOWN: Tyler; Henry, Griffiths, McNulty, Davis; Robinson, Ruddock (sub Howells 45), Guttridge, Lawless; Gray, Benson (sub Cullen 80).
Subs not used: Wall, Mawson, Justham.
ATTENDANCE: 8,488 (203 Kidderminster)