Date: 15-07-18Harriers 1 Aston Villa 1 – Harriers share the spoils in the heat

Report by Harriershane

Our illustrious neighbours, Aston Villa, split their squad between the New Bucks Head and Aggborough for our first friendy of the new season on Saturday.

In attendance in Worcestershire were Gary Gardner, Albert Adomah, ex Swansea man Neil Taylor and most notably the mercurial Jack Grealish. For the Harriers, it was a first view of the new era. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss? Not if Neil McFarlane has anything to do with it; Harriers lining up in a 3-5-2 system, with Ryan Johnson, Ashley Chambers and Billy Daniels making a start, as did 17 year old academy player Harry Stratford.

The new Harriers kit for the 2018-19 season
The new Harriers kit
for the 2018-19 season

Villa started well in front of a crowd of just over 2000, Adomah miskicking and Gardener drilling a free kick past the post. Harriers settled down though, passing it round their Championship visitors, Lee Vaughan going close with a vicious effort. Eight minutes in and Fraser Horsfall broke the deadlock; James O’Connor squaring a clever free kick for his highly rated centre back partner to stab home.

Villa, and Grealish in particular, struck back with fury, the aforementioned Grealish dispossesing Weeks and driving through the Harriers half before squaring to Harvey Knibbs who struck high and past Brandon Hall. Chambers had an overhead kick drop just over the bar, with Villa going close with Taylor, Hutton and Grealish having good efforts. The best chance though fell to Gary Gardner who struck the woodwork, with a special mention to young Harry Stratford who put in a vital block to deflect it onto the post.

At half time we saw the introduction of the kids and the trialists, with one of the trialists triplets having a header cleared off the line. The second half fizzled our somewhat, however wing backs Harry Higginson and Kian Kang from the academy acquitted themselves well.

Villa struggled to break down the young Harriers, who were showing off their player pathway and the new kit. A bright new world? Let’s hope so.

Harriers welcome Burton Albion to Aggborough on Tuesday night where we should see new signing James Baxendale and the conspicuous by his absence Joe Ironside.

Photo © KHFC