Sunday, July 29, 2007

Giggs and co draw blood

Source: The Kidderminster Shuttle

By Peter McKinney

Kidderminster Harriers 1 FC United of Manchester 1

HARRIERS were held by an attack minded FC United side in an entertaining draw at Aggborough on Sunday afternoon.

The home team took on a Manchester based team which had the likes of Giggs and Hargreaves playing for them - unfortunately they were midfielder Anthony Hargreaves and Rhrodri Giggs -brother of Red Devils winger Ryan.

However, the visitors certainly played with Manchester United's attacking style and constantly worried a strong Harriers side.

Manager Mark Yates was able to give towering defender Mark Creighton, a key player from last season, a useful 45 minute run out that will blow the cobwebs off his joints.

The only trialists on display were Jon Munday, who has been given an extended time in the side because of captain Stuart Whitehead's injury, and former Cinderford player Matthew Williams.

Striker James Constable, enjoying his first start in pre-season, headed Brian Smikle's cross at keeper Sam Ashton in the third minute.

Scott Bevan showed alertness when he was forced to rush out and block Rory Patterson, who had beat Harriers' offside trap when chasing Rhrodri Gigg's high pass.

The experimental strike partnership of Constable and Richards showed glimpses of promise.

Constable's slide rule pass released his strike partner down the left wing, and Richards sped past Steve Spencer and delivered a good cross that Alex Mortimer headed off the line.

Richards was left cursing himself in the 24th minute when he stretched for Smikle's cross and but could only knock it to Ashton.

But his self frustration almost spurred him into a spectacular opener a minute later, when he collected Constable's pass with his back to goal, spun and let fly with a shot that Ashton did well to acrobatically turn away.

Worryingly for Yates, Harriers' confidence going forward seemed to ebb away and the home side sat back and lost its way in midfield, allowing United to control the game in the last 15 minutes of the first half.

The visitor's pressure paid off in the 40th minute when Rory Patterson opened the scoring.

The striker was off side when he controlled Shaun Roscoe's long ball but the linesman's flag was not raised and he slotted it past Scott Bevan.

Harriers enjoyed some good fortune and were back on level terms three minutes later.

Ashton spilled Alex Mortimer's back pass and Smikel was on hand to roll the ball into the back of the net.

The lively Patterson had the first shot of the second half but this time Bevan was more than equal to his rising effort.

Munday caused a few Harriers fans' hearts to flutter when he directed a stray pass to striker Jerome Wright, but he made up for his error by tracking back and forcing him into a speculative cross in the 51st minute.

United, who were backed by a small but vocal travelling army of 176 fans, had to replace Anthony Hargreaves after he was injured by Munday's sliding challenge from behind.

A flurry of substitutions by the home side broke up the flow of an entertaining game.

Brian Smikle, who was alert throughout, almost scored an own goal on the 64 minute mark but steered Wright's incisive pass just past the left hand post.

Substitute Matthew Barnes-Homer and Russ Penn combined well to set up Constable but the striker was a fraction offside.

Penn should have done better when Ferrell found him in the box but he hesitated and tried a speculative cross/shot that was headed away.

Howarth headed Jeff Kenna's free-kick over and Barnes-Homer flicked a shot wide but Bevan spared Harriers' blushes late on.

Rhrodri Giggs showed some of his illustrious relation's skill when he skipped past the giant keeper, who stuck out a long arm to deny the winger.

All in all it was a decent workout for Harriers, who will need to step up a higher level for Tuesday's home friendly against Walsall.

HARRIERS: Bevan, Harkness, Hurren (Munday, 81mins), Creighton (McGrath, 45mins), Constable (Boukhalfa, 81mins), Richards (Barnes-Homer, 61mins) Blackwood (Howarth, 81mins), Smikle, Munday (Penn, 51mins), Ferrell, Bignot (Williams, 68mins).

FC UNITED: Ashton (Newbrook, 71mins), Foster, Roscoe, Platt (McCafferty, 71mins), Spencer, Mortimer, Howard (Harop, 71mins), Hargreaves (Swarbick, 57mins), Giggs, Wright, Patterson.

Referee: Mick Fletcher (Worcestershire).

Attendance: 676.