Northampton Town 3 Kidderminster Harriers 0
It will be D-day for Kidderminster Harriers' out-of-contract players today but Saturday's defeat merely emphasised that Stuart Watkiss will be planning sweeping changes in the summer.
Relegated Harriers' farewell to the Football League after a five-year stay was soured by the controversial sending-off of John McGrath and a collapse in the final five minutes when Northampton netted twice to secure their play-off berth.
It was the final chance to impress for nine of the 13 out-of-contract players in Saturday's squad but manager Watkiss will have seen nothing to change his mind on what will be required.
He said: "The first half was very pleasing. We had a game-plan, we kept our shape and Northampton couldn't get to grips with it. But credit Northampton, they stepped it up in the second half and we found it difficult to cope.
"The second half has typified our season and showed the reasons why we have been relegated.
"We know we have got to make sweeping changes. I will sit down with the players individually on Monday and tell them who has a future at the club and who doesn't."
For the first hour, a muchchanged Kidderminster had frustrated the home side, silencing the Cobblers' fans in a near sell-out Sixways crowd.
But striker Andy Kirk --who had smashed a hat-trick for Boston United at Aggborough earlier in the season --showed his predatory instincts to score on 67 minutes. Once McGrath had been red-carded for his part in a fracas that involved all bar Harriers goalkeeper Danny Lewis there was no chance of Harriers avoiding a 28th league defeat of the season.
Watkiss did not defend McGrath's actions after he went head-to-head with Cobblers midfielder Charley Hearn following a midfield challenge but he was furious that referee Trevor Parkes opted to punish only the Harriers man.
" I don't dispute that McGrath deserved to go," Watkiss said. "But Hearn dropped his head once, possibly twice, and I find it unbelievable that one has been sent off and not the other."
However, the balance of the match was tipped firmly towards the Cobblers and substitute Eric Sabin provided a much-needed spark. Twice, his neat skills produced two mesmerising runs and crosses, and Josh Law gratefully converted the inviting passes inside the six-yard area for simple finishes.
In the final 20 minutes, Harriers were simply overrun and only a series of excellent saves by debutant Lewis kept the score down. The former Studley keeper could rue his ill-fortune for the opener, too, when he produced two pointblank saves from Fred Murray and Kirk before the latter pounced for his seventh goal in eight matches.
Kirk had been a £125,000 deadline signing by the Cobblers, proving you get what you pay for. The thorny subject of money will dominate the next few weeks at Harriers.
The fight for control is unlikely to be resolved for another week at least as the current board and a third party, understood to be led by former Farnborough Town chairman Ron Higgins, battle for Lionel Newton's shares.
Watkiss' own future could be put in doubt by any takeover but he just hopes the matter is resolved as soon as possible.
He said: "It's pointless me worrying about it too much because I have no control over it. I just hope it is sorted out sooner rather than later so I know what budget will be available."
Scorers: Kirk (67), Low (85, 88).
NORTHAMPTON TOWN (4-4-2): Harper; Togwell, L Chambers, Willmott, Murray; Low, Rowson, Hearn (Sabin, 77), Williamson; McGleish (Hunt, 88), Kirk (Richards, 88). Subs: Bunn, Galbraith.
KIDDERMINSTER HARRIERS (4-3-3): Lewis; Weaver, Sall, Hatswell, Burton; A Chambers, Keates, McGrath, Sturrock ( Hollis, 86), Christie (Foster, 65), Rawle. Subs: Jones, Danby, McHale.
Referee: T Parkes (W Mids). Bookings: Northampton - Hearn, McGleish; Kidderminster - Rawle (all fouls).
Sending-off: Kidderminster - McGrath ( violent conduct).
Attendance: 6,786 Harriers man of the match: Danny Lewis - coped admirably on his debut.