Oxford United's automatic promotion hopes were effectively extinguished at the Kassam Stadium last night as they fell to their second successive home defeat.

Kidderminster midfielder Simon Russell struck a superb winner five minutes from time, his 30-yard angled effort flying over goalkeeper Billy Turley and into the goal.

Turley had earlier saved a penalty, while at the other end - in front of the Harriers' goal - United missed their customary hatful of chances.

It wasn't a great night for Oxford boss Jim Smith.

He was sent to the stand during the second half of the Conference game - for offering a linesman his glasses following a dodgy offside decision.

Smith was standing directly in line with United's forwards, who looked to be behind the Kidderminster defence, and was furious when the referee's assistant lifted his flag.

He presented him with his spectacles, to a great cheer from the home fans, but the referee failed to see the funny side of it and ordered Smith to take his seat in the South Stand.

The attendance of just 4,542 was United's lowest league gate of the season and showed, perhaps, that many supporters had even before kick-off given up on the title.

Smith showed how unhappy he was with Saturday's showing against Forest Green by making five changes.

Matt Day, Eddie Anaclet and Andy Burgess all dropped to the bench, while Gavin Johnson was omitted altogether.

In came Luke Foster - for his debut - Rufus Brevett, Carl Pettefer and Marvin Robinson, with Mickey Corcoran switching to right back to accommodate Foster at centre half.

Kidderminster made a bright start, and inside 40 seconds Phil Gilchrist had to scramble the ball clear from seven yards out, just in front of Turley, when Harriers' long free-kick went straight through the defence.

Robinson was chosen to play up front alongside Rob Duffy, with Yemi Odubade moving to the right wing.

And Robinson - disappointing when he replaced Duffy against Forest Green - immediately looked more lively, winning a free-kick a yard outside the area on six minutes. But it came to nothing.

The first half was very open and even, both sides creating openings, though Oxford sometimes gave away too many free-kicks to feel comfortable.

Duffy has got many of his 21 goals this season through power, especially in the air, but he showed he has a deft touch too with a delightful chip from 22 yards from Martin Foster's lay-off. Keeper Stephen Taylor tipped the effort over his crossbar.

A big cheer echoed around the stadium when the scoreboard flashed up news that Dagenham were losing at St Albans, and the home fans responded with a lengthy chorus of "Come On Oxford".

The U's then put together an excellent move, from one side of the pitch to the other, and involving Robinson, Odubade and Foster, and finishing with Pettfer bursting through the middle, which he ended with a 25-yard drive just over the top.

With just over ten minutes left in the first half, Brevett gave away a penalty for a challenge from behind which brought Christie down as he ran into the box from the right.

The ref had no hesitation in awarding the spot-kick, nor in booking Brevett.

But Turley was more than a match for Christie 12 yards out, diving to his right for a fine stop.

Soon after the penalty save, Kidderminster had the ball in the net, but it was disallowed for offside.

Referee Graham Horwood then angered United's players by not allowing advantage when they had a dangerous break, and instead bringing play back to book Harriers' Jonny Harkness.

Turley was called upon to save a decent Simon Russell drive at the start of the second half when Kidderminster pressed, with Russell Penn very influential in midfield.

Luke Foster demonstrated his good pace by outsprinting Christie on a run at goal.

Smith had already decided on a triple substitution before he was banished to the stand, and just before the hour mark, on came Anaclet, Chris Hargreaves and Burgess.

The new faces helped United maintain their ascendancy, but they couldn't put the ball in the net.

Hargreaves had a deflected shot saved within seconds of coming on, then Odubade didn't get anything on his header at the far post from Burgess's excellent corner, and in their next attack, Odubade's shot was deflected just wide by defender Mark Creighton.

Turley saved well again from a Jason Constable blast.

Penalty appeals were turned down when Odubade was pushed over in the box, the ref then awarding a drop ball!

But few could have complaints about Kidderminster deserving something from the match.

And it was a special late strike which won it for them.