HARRIERS began life back in the National League with a goalless draw against Woking at Aggborough.

A fairy tense affair on Hoo Road saw the Reds held by a side who went within a few games of promotion to the EFL last season.

Russ Penn opted to hand first competitive starts to two of his summer signings in Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain and Matt Preston – fellow additions Gerry McDonagh, Kieran Phillips and Jack Lambert had to make do with spots on the bench.

With a heightened sense of occasion and excitement at Aggborough, it was perhaps no surprise that key chances were at a premium in a first half that yielded four yellow cards in sodden conditions. 

When the opportunities did arrive well past the half-hour, it was a case of one big opening apiece. Woking went closest first; a neat team move capped by an angled shot from Rhys Browne that flew across goal and wide of the far post.

Just a couple of minutes later, a sweeping foray into the visiting area by Harriers saw Zak Brown route the ball to Ashley Hemmings who, in turn, spotted the advancing run of Oxlade-Chamberlain out wide. The new man was supplied and shot low, but Will Jaaskelainen between the sticks stuck out his right boot to block it.

Woking were arguably the brighter of the two teams at the start of the second period, but there was controversy in their area just shy of the hour. After Brown had been denied by Jaaskelainen in the area with appeals waved away, there was a bigger penalty shout after a follow-up shot from Richards appeared to be blocked on the line by Rohan Ince.

A fairly tense battle remained in deadlock for much of the half but, with 75 gone, substitute McDonagh robbed his man of the ball before Woking hurriedly smothered out the danger – Leesley then snatching at an effort after an Oxlade-Chamberlain cross was blocked, only for the sighter to crash well wide.

Inside the last ten minutes, Woking sub Robbie Willmott’s free kick was superbly tipped around the post by the diving Christian Dibble, before the visitors went closer still when a Scott Cuthbert header went wide when only a touch from one of the many bodies flying towards it would’ve sent it home.

There would be one final chance for this frenetic draw to be punctuated with a goal. It came Harriers’ way, and with just seconds of normal time remaining. McDonagh’s pace helped set up Hemmings who lined one up from distance, his effort dipping and crashing off the upright with just the goalkeeper to beat.

For Harriers it was a point and a clean sheet on day one, with a trip to York City coming on Saturday, 12th August as the new term rolls on.