DANNY Pilkington’s fine free-kick woke up a sleepy pre-season friendly as Kidderminster Harriers beat a young Wolverhampton Wanderers XI 1-0.
Tonight’s Aggborough clash would certainly have been classed as ‘a good work-out’ for both sides but was not in danger of breaking the thrill-o-meter.
However, as the temperature cooled, the match warmed up with substitute Pilkington, a summer signing from York City, curling home a sublime 25-yard set-piece over the wall in the 78th minute.
His elder brother, Norwich City ace Anthony, would have been proud and the supporters in the 944-strong crowd, maybe even those supporting the Championship giants, relieved as the game livened up slightly.
Wolves could have levelled but replacement striker David Moli fired wastefully wide and trialist keeper Robert Ambrusics made a superb save from Tim Jakobsson’s low drive through a crowd of bodies.
Hungarian Ambrusics, formerly of Leicester City and Cambridge United, enjoyed a solid match in his bid to be handed a deal to provide competition for first-choice Danny Lewis, who is currently out with a dislocated finger.
Rangy full-back Paul McCone and hard-running forward Justin Nisbett were Harriers’ other trialists, both coming off the bench.
Exodus Geohaghon and Ryan Austin looked to be forming a useful central defensive partnership, while James Vincent put in a tireless display alongside the returning midfield caretaker Keith Briggs in the engine room.
Down the flanks, Ricky Shakes and half-time substitute Marvin Johnson looked particularly lively with the latter whipping in several handy crosses.
In attack, it could be argued Anthony Malbon and Ryan Rowe, two bargain buys from the lower leagues, are rather similar.
Neither are tall nor seem particularly quick but they do not lack in skill and have an eye for goal, although not necessarily demonstrated tonight.
They are certainly lacking a Jamille Matt up there but the highly-rated Caribbean striker’s future continues to be clouded in confusion as he awaits the go-ahead from the UK Border Agency – a situation that could certainly be described as dragging on.
Wolves, for their part, looked well organised for such a young team and included regular Championship midfielder Adam Hammill but their strikers struggled to get involved.
Before Pilkington’s free-kick and following a sedate first period, Shakes forced a good save from keeper Aaron McCary from Johnson’s superb low centre.
Vincent also demanded a stop from the edge of the box after Shakes’ ball inside and Johnson burst promisingly down the right, having switched, only for the keeper’s gloves to again stick.
Harriers’ big friendly test should be against Walsall next Tuesday but it remains to be seen what will happen in the Blue Square Bet Premier opener at Lincoln City on August 11. After all, we have all been fooled before by pre-season.
Harriers: Ambrusics; Dunkley (McCone 46), Geohaghon, Austin, Williams (Demetriou 74); Shakes (Pilkington 56), Vincent, Briggs (Thompson-Brown 74), Gittings (Johnson 46); Rowe (Guinan 56), Malbon (Nisbett 70).
Wolves: McCary; Doherty (Kostrna 61), Ihiekwe, Ebanks-Blake, Reckford; Hammill (Parry 61), Price (Iorfa 85), Whittall (Jakobsson 70), Gorman (Tank 78); Kempton (Moli 70), Cassidy. Sub not used: Cotman.