Stafford Rangers 0 Harriers 4 Report by Centreforeword
After the wettest start to a summer on record the clouds finally lifted for a pleasant afternoon at the Marston Road ground for the pre-season friendly between Stafford Rangers and Kidderminster Harriers. Harriers' starting eleven one suspects was not a million miles away from what we might expect to see come the opening league game proper - away at Lincoln on August 11th.
Perhaps the interesting addition was Stourbridge's Paul McCone playing at right back. He had already been seen before by Harriers fans after appearing in pre-season friendlies last season but never taken on much to the disappointment of many. Ed Baldy again started in goal as Danny Lewis had to visit Stafford hospital A&E due to having suffered a dislocated finger from an Andy Fearn shot in the warm up.
In the first half Harriers were dominant. In the early seconds a leaner looking Ryan Rowe clipped the bar with a curling shot then seven minutes in it was all too easy as Ricky Shakes got round the back of the Stafford defence and Marvin Johnson just had to tap in.
On twenty four minutes a great run from Anthony Malbon, with a powerful low shot at the end of it, doubled the lead. A few moments later another Shakes cross reached Malbon but in choosing to finish with his right foot instead of his left, the ball skewed over the bar.
Callum Gittings was having a great game and was on the receiving end of some strong Stafford challenges but it was Mickey Demetriou who was clattered on thirty four minutes and had to go off with a bruised ankle, to be replaced by Mike Williams.
Just before half time Malbon made it three with consummate ease, scoring in a similar fashion to the way he got his second - great skill, pace and judgment in front of goal.
Stafford barely got a look in in the first half.
HT: Stafford Rangers 0 Harriers 3
1st half team:
Baldy, McCone, Demetriou (M Williams), Geohaghon, Austin, Gittings, Vincent, Shakes, Rowe, Malbon, Johnson.
In the second half, as a result of the usual regular substitutions, the play was a lot more even. Harriers again started well when Danny Pilkington clipped a short lob narrowly over the bar.
As Stafford got more into the game Courtney Pitt saw his free kick saved by Baldy and, from a good opportunity as a result of the rebound, Christian Dacres was too hurried with his header and it looped over the bar.
In the sixty seventh minute, somewhat against the run of play, Steve Guinan latched onto some poor Stafford defending and slotted the ball home cleanly passed the home side's keeper. 4-0.
Pitt, who seems to be Stafford's ace taker of free kicks, then rattled the bar again and the Harriers managed to clear from danger. Just before the final whistle a great cross from a pacey Justin Naisbitt was well met by Guinan and his looping header was well saved by the home team's stopper.
All in all a great run out for the lads with some good individual performances. Shame Steve Burr had to be escorted from the ladies toilet after the game whilst mumbling "I'm sure that used to be the gents".
FT: Stafford Rangers 0 Harriers 4
2nd half team:
Baldy, McCone, M Williams, Austin (T Williams), Vaughan, Thompson-Brown, Briggs, Gittings, Malbon (Naisbitt), Guinan, Pilkington.