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kidderminster 2 1000x500We all know that away wins were hard to come by last season with the 2-0 victory at Crystal Palace the only time we picked up all three points on the road, but as we prepare for the new season there were two at once in pre-season games at Alfreton Town and Kidderminster Harriers.

A split saw some of the likely Premier League starters in three weeks time take to the pitch at one game while the others did likewise at the other, and it was an afternoon when supporters had to make their choice. Mine was Kidderminster, on the basis that I saw us play at Alfreton in pre-season five years ago, and it proved to be the more popular of the two for Burnley supporters with two supporters club coaches making their way to Aggborough Stadium with a sizeable following from Turf Moor.

We only saw one goal, a Robbie Brady free kick, but there were five at Alfreton as we came from behind twice to win 3-2 with Andre Gray notching a hat trick, just as he did in pre-season last year at Ibrox against Rangers.

I can’t write too much about the Alfreton game at all but I have since seen the goals. The two we conceded we certainly won’t be happy with but our first equaliser came when Steven Defour played the ball forward to Jonathan Walters whose quick ball to Gray allowed him to get in and slot the ball past the keeper.

He scored from the spot for our second. This time he was played in by Johann Berg Gudmundsson before going down in the box. I’m not sure he’d have been given it by a Premier League referee against one of the big clubs but this referee pointed to the spot as he went down and he got up to hammer home from 12 yards.

Jack Cork played the ball up to him for the third. Gray flicked the ball past the advancing keeper on the edge of the box with his first touch before finding the open net to win the game for us.

It’s not bad seeing one of your strikers score a hat trick as you warm up for the season and Sean Dyche, who opted for the game at Alfreton, said: “He looked nice and sharp. He’s worked the keeper on four more occasions as well, and Steven Defour has had some great moments in front of goal.”

Dyche added: “I was pleased with the energy of the performance and the fitness. I’m pleased people came through and got an early 90 minutes, which was another goal for us which we wanted to achieve this year, which is why we split the groups.

The manager also explained the absence of Sam Vokes from both games and the first half substitution of James Tarkowski as nothing more than precautions.

It does appear as though Defour was one of the stand out players again just as he’d been in the first half at Shamrock Rovers eight days earlier, and the star of the second half in that particular game, Robbie Brady, was also standing out at Kidderminster along with his Ireland colleagues Jeff Hendrick and Stephen Ward.

Just as was the case elsewhere, this was used to get the players 90 minutes where Ian Woan and Tony Loughlan, in charge at Aggborough, made only two changes all afternoon and they both came with just a few minutes remaining to give Luke Hendrie and Olatunde Bayode a taste of first team action.

We played some good football at times in this game while looking quite secure at the back leaving Nick Pope with few problems against a Kidderminster side who you would expect are ready for another good season.

The result was 1-0, courtesy of Brady’s free kick but we missed some chances, particularly a couple from Ashley Barnes and one from Hendrick, while also hitting the woodwork twice, once in each half. The second of those was a stinging effort from Matt Lowton from the tightest of angles.

All in all it was an enjoyable game, despite the goals coming elsewhere, but it’s back to one game at a time now for the first team squad starting with a trip to Deepdale to face Preston in two days time.

Burnley lined up at Alfreton: Tom Heaton, Tendayi Darikwa, James Tarkowski (Alex Whitmore 32), Ben Mee (Arlen Birch 80), Charlie Taylor, Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Jack Cork, Steven Defour, Chris Long (Harry Limb 83), Jonathan Walters (Nashé Chakwana 70), Andre Gray. Subs not used: Conor Mitchell, Jamie Thomas, Aiden O’Neill.

The attendance was 384.

In the game at Kidderminster.

The teams were;

Kidderminster: Brandon Hall, Sam Austin, Cieron Keane, Ryan Croasdale, Trialist, Tyrone Williams, Dan Nti, James McQuilkin, Joe Ironside, Liam Truslove, Manny Sonupe. Subs: Andre Brown, Josh Webb and seven trialists.

Burnley: Nick Pope, Matt Lowton (Luke Hendrie 84), Tom Anderson, Kevin Long, Steven Ward, Fredrik Ulvestad, Ashley Westwood, Jeff Hendrick, Robbie Brady (Olatunde Bayode 84), Ashley Barnes, Dan Agyei. Subs not used: Aidan Stone, Harry Flowers, Mark Howarth, Robbie Leitch, Khius Metz.

Referee: Peter Gibbons.

Attendance: 889 (including 281 Clarets).

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