Harriers 0 West Bromwich Albion 3 Report by Harry Taylor
Kidderminster Harriers first friendly of the 2010-11 pre-season got off to a tough start this lunchtime when they kicked off against West Bromwich Albion at Aggborough. Following yet another turbulent summer period, when once again the Kidderminster side lost a lot of first team players including stand-out left back Lee Baker and winger Brian Smikle, the Harriers fielded a team of triallists and new signings with only three players starting in the first half that had been at the club in the previous season.
For the Albion, Pablo Ibanez started for them following his move from Athletico Madrid in the summer. However, despite Harriers' hard work and combative defending from Lee Vaughan, they lost out to goals from Ishmael Miller, Roman Bednar and Abdoulaye Meite.
Initially things did look fairly promising for Kidderminster and straight from kick off the Harriers tried to run with the ball although this did result in the ball going out for a throw in when a pass was made. Within a minute Miller had a shot which was well deflected away by the Harriers defenders after worrying a few sections of the home support. Ten minutes later 'The Albion' had taken the lead when Miller ran into the box and was tackled superbly by new signing Mark Albrighton but the center back dallied on the ball and proceeded to pass it straight to Gianni Zuiverloon who gave the ball to Simon Cox who then played the ball back for Miller to finish sweetly by lobbing the ball over Danny Lewis to give Albion the lead despite the best last ditch efforts of Tom Sharpe to keep the ball out.
The Albion continued to press the Harriers and Chris Brunt, the highly rated North Irishman, had a shot which Lewis spilled and was lucky that nobody was on the end to put the ball into the net. Kidderminster were creating some chances as David McDermott ran at defenders and gave Zuiverloon problems with his pace and trickery but the slow and purposeful football from West Bromwich was proving too much for the Harriers players as the Albion could play at walking pace and still pick Kidderminster apart.
Albion threatened again before the half was over with Cox causing problems when he was played through and whilst he was tackled by Albrighton, Lewis got the ball and was lucky that he hit the clearance off Cox and out, otherwise it could've been much much worse for 'The Harriers'.
Albrighton was the rock at the back and did threaten upfront as he nearly made the most of a good cross from a Dave Hankin free kick heading the ball towards Carson's left hand side near post which the former England stopper pushed away for a corner. That was subsequently wasted and turned into a counter-attack from the Albion resulting in Miller hitting a shot against Lewis which was well saved.
Former Harrier Reuben Reid was also threatening his former side with pace against triallist Mike Williams - formerly of Wrexham - who simply couldn't contend with the winger and was lucky that Reid didn't score. The worrying thing was that there were no other left backs in sight and, whilst he was playing against a Championship/Premiership class player, he looked incompetent and got caught out of position a couple of times. However, he did make some good runs up the left hand side that weren't picked out - but with his apparent lack of pace, even if he got the ball could he do much with it?
Captain Keith Briggs also had chances. Firstly a shot which fizzed just wide of Carson's goal as he left Yousouf Mulumbu on the ground after turning him and unleashed a twenty yard shot which was unlucky not to test Carson and approaching the latter stages of the half he hit a header just wide following another Hankin dead ball.
Mere seconds before the half time whistle was blown Brunt threatened Harriers again with a shot from the left hand side which looked destined for the bottom right hand corner but missed by a small amount much to the relief of the Harriers fans.
The first half had set the tone for the game with the Albion controlling possession but Kidderminster having a few chances and the midfield looking quite solid at times. Upfront was a different matter as trialist Paul Connor, formerly of Lincoln and Cheltenham looked very easily wound up and didn't impress me either with his play.
First half sides:
Danny Lewis, Lee Vaughan, Mike Williams, Tom Sharpe, Tom Shaw, Mark Albrighton, Dave Hankin, Keith Briggs, Paul Connor, David McDermott, Jack Byrne.
Scott Carson, Joe Mattock, Jonas Alsson, Pablo Ibanez, Yousouf Mulumbu, Simon Cox, Ishmael Miller, Chris Brunt, Reuben Reid, Luke Moore, Gianni Zuiverloon.
The second half side was much changed for the Harriers as it saw the introduction of Andrew Stevens in the Harriers goal. Josh Quaynor slotted into the left back position with Williams becoming an auxiliary center back. Chris McPhee, Kyle Hadley, Nathan Hayward, Callum Gittens, Kevin Holsgrove, Michael Briscoe and Matthew Blair also came on with right back Lee Vaughan being the only surviving player of the first half.
It was Blair - formerly at AFC Telford - who threatened first as his pace became immediately apparent to the Harriers faithful when he raced onto a poor touch from Gabriel Tamas and nicked the ball from him. Just as it looked like Harriers would score he went for the top right hand corner and put the ball just high and wide of his intended target.
Kidderminster were starting to work harder, perhaps believing that they could get a result which was proved as they came forward, with McPhee falling over at just the wrong time when he was about to win the ball from Leon Barnett which would've left him one on one with Luke Daniels who had replaced Carson at half time.
In the sixtieth minute George Thorne had a great chance to double 'The Baggies' lead with great work on the left from Jerome Thomas as he worked his way into the box and, with his back to goal, played the ball back to Thorne who hit a shot from thirty yards out which was caught very well by Stevens.
Harriers might've been worse off if it wasn't for the aggressive, combative yet brilliant defensive tackling from Lee Vaughan who time and time again won the ball with heavy but fair challenges that will surely endear him to the Kidderminster fans over the coming season. Once he has served his four game ban at the start of the season that is and with today's display it is easy to see how he earned those cards.
West Brom then nearly doubled their lead in the sixty eighth minute as Thomas again worked his way into the area and played the ball across goal for Bednar who hit the bar with his effort. Not to be deterred though he scored minutes later as Giles Barnes ran down the right and Bednar found space with ease and put a thumping header past Stevens who was stuck motionless to his line as the ball flew into the goal.
Five minutes later it was three as Albion won a corner which found its way to Jerome Thomas on the left again who then chipped a curling cross onto the head of Meite who hit a weak header past the flailing Stevens in the Harriers goal who may be disappointed not to have done better with it.
We did force one more chance before the game was out when a cross from Dave Hankin found Josh Holsgrove who hit a shot despite the best efforts of Reid which hit the post after some slight intervention by McPhee.
The game itself was one that no Harriers fan expected us to win and to lose 3 - 0 is pretty good against a Premiership side. The one thing that was apparent was the lack of a threat up front - Connor didn't look like he will score a goal, never mind ten or twenty, David McDermott did look lively but I don't think he'll ever score a significant amount of goals, McPhee wasn't at the races today and Blair looks better suited to the left wing in a Brian Smikle kind of role. This is something that I'd imagine Steve Burr is working to sort, and hopefully so, otherwise it may be a struggle.
The left back berth is also something of a worry to me - Williams may be competent in the Conference but today he looked the complete opposite, but he was playing Premiership players so it is understandable. And we all remember how Lee Baker got ripped apart at Coventry and he was one of our best left backs at the club.
Our next friendly is Tuesday night at Solihull Moors (19.45 KO) which will be a more realistic test of how our season is going to pan out and will give us a chance to cross our paths with Kidderminster alumni's such as Jasbir Singh and the legendary Aaron Farrell.
Second half sides:
Andrew Stevens, Josh Quaynor, Michael Briscoe, Mike Williams, Lee Vaughan, Nathan Hayward, Kyle Hadley, Matthew Blair, Chris McPhee, Kevin Holsgrove, Callum Gittens.
Luke Daniels, Steven Reid, Abdoulaye Meite, Gabriel Tamas, Leon Barnett, George Thorne, Graham Dorrans, James Morrison, Jerome Thomas, Roman Bednar, Giles Barnes.