Hourihane 9; Chester 31; McKirdy 82
- Hourihane and Chester net early
- McKirdy with third in second half
- Brown goes closest for Harriers
- 2,408 in at Aggborough
ASTON Villa’s visit to Aggborough saw Steve Bruce’s men record a 3-0 win in pre-season on a night that saw Harriers give a more than respectable showing.
Villa hit a ninth minute opener through Conor Hourihane but had to weather a fair amount of Harriers attacks, the lead eventually doubled after the half-hour mark when James Chester turned in a free-kick.
Harriers were a good match for their higher-graded opponents throughout the night and the third, from Harry McKirdy, perhaps a touch flattering.
Contrary to the driving rain and poor conditions that threatened to derail the Derby game just hours prior, a superb Aggborough setting greeted the two sides on this night.
It was indeed Villa who struck first – Hourihane on the end of it as, at the third attempt, he slammed the ball home after the hosts struggled to clear their lines.
But in truth it was Harriers who created the better number of chances, albeit without a breakthrough; Liam Truslove going close on a number of occasions while Manny Sonupe and Liam Daly both went within inches of breaching Mark Bunn in the Villa goal.
Villa’s second when it came was arguably against the run of play and for the Harriers management it will have been a touch frustrating as Chester was able to dart into the area at a free-kick to tap home Hourihane’s delivery.
Harriers continued to be creative after the restart and came within inches of a leveller when Andre Brown dragged a shot just wide of the post, before Ross McCormack was denied by the Harriers goalkeeper up at the other end.
Brown was a thorn in the side of the visiting defence for much of the half and on 71 minutes he almost forced in a goal as he battled inside the area with his man, the goalkeeper just about there to gather it from his feet.
Villa’s chances lessened as the second half wore on but, as we entered the last dozen minutes of so, they might have added a third when Harry McKirdy blazed a shot over the target. The third did come, from that very same source – he eventually bundled the ball over the line with just eight left to go.
John Eustace is looking forward to the experience of tackling some big names with Harriers this pre-season as fixtures kick-off with a double-header against Derby County and Aston Villa this week.
Harriers players have already banked two weeks of hard work in pre-season training and are now ready to head into match action.
First up is the visit to Aggborough Stadium of Derby County on Tuesday (11th) before Aston Villa head to town (12th) with both games kicking off at 7:45pm.
The gaffer says the main aim of pre-season remains unchanged – for him it is all about continuing to work on his squad’s fitness levels.
He is, though, looking forward to seeing his charges lock horns with some big games.
On the rigors of the summer he said: “That’s exactly what it’s for – the main thing is to get fit and to get through pre-season without injuries.
“We have some top teams coming to Aggborough and it’s great for both sets of fans and it’s also good for players to see what it takes to play at that level.
“We are very light on numbers at the moment, but we do have some trialists coming in and it will be a good experience for them as well.”
“With the games coming up it is an unbelievable pre-season for the club and I don’t think you could get a tougher one. John Eustace
Liam Daly, a summer signing who is embarking on his first season in full-time football, is said to have eased into the schedule impressively.
That echoes the efforts of the rest of the squad too, it seems.
Eustace added: “Everything has been fantastic – the lads have worked ever so hard and their attitudes have been different class.
“The lads from last season have come back in fantastic shape and the likes of Liam Daly have taken to full-time training ever so well, he looks really fit.
“With the games coming up it is an unbelievable pre-season for the club and I don’t think you could get a tougher one.
“It’s also great to for the lads to play against some top, top players.”
- Admission against Derby County on Tuesday is £10 adults, £5 concessions and £1 U16s.
- Against Villa the following night admission is £12 and £6 for adults and concession respectively.
- Early Bird Season Ticket Holders from Harriers can obtain their free entry to a pre-season game at one of these fixtures should they wish – simply hand over Voucher A either in advance at the ticket office or on the turnstile upon entry.
- Home fans are reminded that they are situated in the North and Main Stands ONLY for these two fixtures.
- Derby and Villa fans should make their way to the East Stand (seats) only. As things stand the South Stand (terracing) will not be available.
Tickets not currently available.
Match Highlights: Harriers 0-3 Aston Villa
Reaction: Eustace on Aston Villa
Reaction: Digie on Aston Villa