Opening Day Preview: Harriers v Chorley
After weeks of friendlies the curtain finally rises on the new season with Harriers kicking off against the team that they ended last season against.
Chorley ensured that last season ended in disappointment for Harriers, knocking them out the the play-offs at the semi-final stage so some will see today as a chance to gain a measure of revenge. For the Harriers management, though, it is just an opportunity to get the season off to the best possible start.
John Eustace has a near full strength squad to choose from with only experienced full back Lee Vaughan on the treatment table recovering from a broken leg. Five summer signings could make their debuts this afternoon with Declan Weeks, Brandon Hall, Liam Daly, Junior Joachim and Cieron Keane are all set to feature along with Josh Webb who was with the club last season without featuring in the team. Ryan Croasdale will lead the team on the pitch having been appointed captain.
Chorley boss Matt Jansen has been busy in the transfer market, too, bringing in goalkeeper Matt Urwin on loan from Fleetwood and attacking midfielder Josh Wilson from AFC Telford United; they still have former Harrier Josh O'Keefe in their squad. Pre-season has seen them have a mixed bag of results with five wins and two draws from ten games, not that too much can be read into those results. They entertained league sides Bolton, Rochdale, Fleetwood and Blackpool, beating Fleetwood and losing the rest.
Last season the sides met four times with Harriers winning just one; the league game at Aggborough early in the season ended in a goalless draw. Overall the teams have played each other with Harriers winning three and losing four. The last time Harriers won at Aggborough was in 1989 when two goals from Kim Casey and one from Richard Forsyth gave them a 3-1 win.
I expect Harriers to line-up as follows (4-3-3): Hall; Austin, Keane, Williams, Daly; Croasdale, McQuilkin, Weeks; Nti, Ironside, Sonupe.
Subs (from): Austin, A. Brown, J. Brown, Clarke, Digie, Joachim, Ngwawtala, Palmer, Truslove, Webb.
Missing (injured): Vaughan.
The referee this afternoon will be Aaron Jackson from Liverpool. This will be his second time in charge of a Harriers game having done last season's 1-0 home win over Altrincham.
This afternoon's weather is forecast to be damp with a chance of thunderstorms and a 40% chance of rain with a temperature around 17°C.