PRE-SEASON is a time when managers hope lessons are learnt before the league campaign gets underway.
And Worcester City’s joint boss, Carl Heeley, will no doubt be hoping his players gained a lot from their experience at the University of Warwick.
Although they did not have to sit any exams, they were given a test at the Coventry campus’ Cryfield Sports Pavilion.
Stratford Town took the lead with a goal from Charlie Faulkner on 77 minutes before Alex Gudger struck late on to salvage a draw.
Despite the draw, Heeley was disappointed his side did not come through it with flying colours and admitted there was still plenty to work on.
“I thought we passed it well and worked hard against a well-organised Stratford,” he said.
“We probably dominated possession, but when we did create clear cut chances, particularly in the first half, we did not capitalise on them.
“Also the goal we conceded, we have got to deal with that at the near post area.
“But those are the sorts of things that I would rather being ironed out now than in the season when it matters.”
Worcester were scheduled to face Stratford at Knights Lane, but due to work on the ground the match was moved to the city where the Blues and Whites pulled off arguably their greatest ever triumph.
With a collecting of hardy supporters watching on from a bank on one side of the pitch, this could not have been any different from the scenes at the Ricoh Arena in November.
But Worcester still played with plenty of impetus in the early stages as the returning Tyler Weir combined well with Kyle Haynes down the right.
Daniel Nti was also looking lively, but it took until the 19th minute before they got a shot on target as Connor Gater stung the hands of keeper Andy Kemp.
Nti also went close moments later as he found some room in the box before pulling his effort wide of the right-hand post.
As the half wore on, Worcester seemed to gain in confidence, but they could not find the breakthrough in the first half.
Gudger tried his best as Kemp got behind his powerful header before another corner from the right saw the defender divert the ball against the crossbar.
Haynes also curled an effort just wide as the opening period ended goalless. This seemed to re-energise Stratford as they quickly forced half-time replacement Nathan Vaughan into action.
The keeper, who came on for Daniel Lloyd-Weston, saved shots from Dior Angus and Robert Thompson-Brown.
Worcester looked the likeliest to break the deadlock as Ryan Rowe fired over a free kick, but it was Stratford who edged ahead.
With 13 minutes left, Faulkner took advantage of some sluggish defending to prod home Aaron Moses-Garvey’s cross to the near post.
Faulkner usually turns out for Stratford’s youth team, but he was doing the business for the first team as he then got back to clear Sam Minihan’s header off the line.
Worcester refused to give in, though, and after Ellis Deeney forced a corner with powerful strike, they got the goal they were looking for.
James Cutts, who did well to stop Deeney’s 25-yard effort, failed to claim a corner and Gudger was on hand to hammer it home with five minutes to go.