The Harriers gained a credible draw against League One neighbours Cheltenham Town at Aggborough this evening. This was a first sighting of our new team for most fans there because this was only our second friendly so far.
The first, and only one so far, came two weeks ago at Rushall Olympic when we won with a late goal from Justin Richards. It was Richards that looked the most likely to score tonight as he played a lone striker role.
With no Iyseden Christie available through injury and James Constable starting from the bench it was Michael McGrath and Matt Barnes-Homer, wearing garish yellow boots to compliment his canary yellow shirt, that supported him during a first half in which we could have scored five times within the opening ten minutes.
As luck would have it Cheltenham opened the scoring with a goal from Ben Gill - no relation to Jerry Gill who was also playing for the Robins tonight. Cue the ice-cream jokes.
That goal came with eleven minutes on the clock but it didn't seem to create too much of a knock back for us because I feel we dominated the first forty five minutes. Our equaliser came via a stunning free kick from the much maligned Jonny Harkness.
The kick was awarded thirty five yards from goal for a foul on Barnes-Homer. Harkness set himself up for a special and executed a shot with a vicious swerve into the top corner of the Robins net.
The half ended with the Harriers looking very impressive. Passes were being played to feet and players were running into spaces, ripping through the visitors defence at will.
The second half was not so good, accomplished but workmanlike.
Wholesale changes at the restart saw Bevan, Kenna, Smikle, Ferrell, McGrath and Richards make way for Coleman, Bignot, Shane Paul, Jon Adams, Blackwood and Constable. It was Paul, playing against one of his previous clubs, that helped to give us the lead.
With just over fifteen minutes of the half gone he slipped a pass through the middle for Constable to run onto and steer past the Town keeper, Scott Brown.
Two minutes later and Town had pulled level.
Craig Reid, wearing a pointless Alice Band on his head, beat Paul Bignot to the ball and chipped a shot over the diving Dean Coleman. Cue the catcalls, from so called fans, aimed at our new keeper for making a minor mistake in a meaningless friendly.
Constable almost 'wrapped the points up' for us twenty minutes from the end when he broke through the Cheltenham defence to send a lob over the head of the keeper. Luckily for the visitors their defender Gallinagh got back well to clear the ball off the line.
Russ Penn left the field soon after and was replaced with Amar Boukhalfi and then ten minutes from the end confusion took over when McGrath, wearing the number twenty two shirt this time, came back on to replace Harkness.
It wasn't a bad run out for the lads. The first half was a better option for the spectator and Richards impressed with his power and running.
The second half less so with a more experimental line-up. That's what friendlies are for though.
Bevan (Coleman) Kenna (Bignot), Munday, Hurren, Harkness (McGrath) Smikle (Paul), Penn (Boukhalfi), Ferrell (Adams), McGrath (Blackwood) Barnes-Homer, Richards (Constable).