Harriers lift off

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The Independent Online

Kidderminster was once known as the carpet capital of the world; but founder of the modern postage stamp Sir Rowland Hill was born there and, more recently, another type of first-class delivery in the West Midlands town had caused some anxiety for the England cricket captain.

Kidderminster was once known as the carpet capital of the world; but founder of the modern postage stamp Sir Rowland Hill was born there and, more recently, another type of first-class delivery in the West Midlands town had caused some anxiety for the England cricket captain.

Yesterday, it was the turn of Kidderminster's footballers to take centre stage when, after 114 years without league football, the Nationwide League roadshow finally arrived.

The red carpet had been rolled out in May when the Conference Trophy was presented to the Harriers but yesterday was an altogether more low-key affair. The sun shone, a local brass band played and, to round off a perfect day, Jan Molby's new boys beat Torquay in front of a near capacity crowd at Aggborough, which including the former Led Zeppelin lead singer and local resident, Robert Plant.

A goal early in each half sealed an historic victory as the first Worcestershire team to play in the Football League acquitted themselves admirably against a hard-working but ultimately ineffectual Torquay side.

Not surprisingly, the Harriers were in a hurry to open their league goal account and went ahead in the 14th minute. From their third corner, the ball fell nicely for Scott Stamps on the edge of the box and his shot passed through a crowd of defenders to find skipper Ian Clarkson and Stewart Hadley - both suspiciously offside near the penalty spot. Clarkson teed up the ball for Hadley to make history with a shot high into the roof of the net.

With record signing Andy Ducros showing why Jan Molby paid Nuneaton £100,000 for him, and former Wales captain Barry Horne and Paul Webb busy in midfield, Kidderminster, like Torquay, looked happier going forward.

Twice in as many minutes the visitors almost equalised. After half an hour, Kevin Parker headed wide from a Mark Platts cross from the left and then Horne's pass left Adie Smith short to allow Parker a free run on goal from near half way. Tim Clarke kept his cool, Parker lost his and the keeper was able to parry to safety the weak shot from 12 yards.

Ducros was always a danger for the newcomers - curling a shot just past the post and then firing wide after a dangerous run. Torquay had again created two opportunities in quick succession - Jimmy Aggrey heading over from a corner after Steve Tully's right-wing cross flashed across the goal and again in the 62nd minute when the same player went close.

Then a right-wing cross landed at Horne's feet 20 yards out and the 38-year-old nonchalantly volleyed it into the Torquay net before being submerged by his team-mates.

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