WORCESTER Raiders' manager Karl Gormley was full of pride on Tuesday night after his side's absorbing 0-0 draw with Pershore Town in their opening game of the 2023/24 Hellenic League Premier season.

Raiders had a number of golden opportunities to score but were frequently denied by an inspired Eddie Cox in the Pershore goal as the two sides took a point each from the contest.

Despite not being able to convert one of their numerous chances, Raiders' boss Gormley was pleased with what he saw against an immensely competitive Pershore outfit.

"We had a tough pre-season and if we could have picked our first game of the pre-season it would not have been this one," said Gormley.

"But we have this game out of the way now. Pershore will be a tough team to play and they will be a force. 

"It was a brilliant game to be involved in and both sets of supporters were really good, they made the atmosphere better. 

"Our boys put a real shift in and I said to them after, if they can just work like that every game, with the quality we have, we will win a lot of games this year.

"But the work rate is vital and to see the boys work as hard as they did, I am proud of every one of them."

And one player in particular that Gormley wanted to point out for specific praise was his number nine Rich Smith, who lead the line for Raiders and could have had a couple of goals had it not been for Cox. 

"Rich at his best is playing two or three levels higher," added Gormley. "This is the best I have seen him for a long time. I have known Rich and his family since he was born, we are all friends and I have a lot of time for him.

"He has come in this season permanently and could have easily come in with the 'big time' attitude but he has really knuckled down and if he keeps doing what he is doing, he will score plenty of goals this season."

Raiders have little time to reflect on Tuesday, with Saturday's FA Cup extra-preliminary round clash with Belper United at Sixways now only a few days away.

Raiders could play a further eight games this month if they are successful in the FA Cup.

"There is no time to feel sorry for ourselves, we dust ourselves off and go again," said Gormley.

"Saturday is a game for the club, we want to give back to the club and we will go out there to try and get the win

"If we win on Saturday we will play 9 games in August, which is crazy but these are the games we want to be involved in, we want the big games. We will go out on Saturday, hopefully do the job and then worry about mid-week after that!"