WORCESTER City boss Carl Heeley admits the pressure is on to get wins on the board after a frustrating festive period.
City ended 2016 with a hard-earned point in a Boxing Day 0-0 stalemate with Kidderminster Harriers at the Victoria Ground, and then slipped to a 2-1 defeat on New Year’s Day in the Worcestershire derby return at Aggborough.
Heeley felt the Blues and Whites were ‘very unfortunate’ to be beaten after taking the lead and then having Lee Hughes sent off for retaliation.
He praised the players’ endeavour and felt they were denied a ‘stonewall’ penalty after Chekaine Steele was flattened in the dying moments.
But the defeat means City, now 17th in the National League North table, are without a win in five games in league and cup as they host third-from-bottom Bradford Park Avenue at the Victoria Ground on Saturday (kick off at 3pm).
After the visit of the Yorkshire side, City have another home game against mid-table FC United of Manchester the following weekend in a run of fixtures against sides in and around them in the table.
Heeley said: “We have got some big games coming up and we will have to take points from them.
“Every game is an opportunity to pick up points but when you play better sides like Harriers you have to be at it for the 90 minutes.”
City took the lead mid-way through the first half in New Year’s Day derby return as Junior English found space in the Harriers box and fired low into the bottom corner.
Harriers pinned Heeley’s men back after the break and got their deserved reward on the hour when Zaine Francis-Angol burst down the left and fired the ball across the goal for James McQuilkin to fire home.
The decider came in the 79th minute as Harriers striker Sam Austin fired in a low cross from the right, only for City defender Sam Oji to turn the ball past Ethan Ross for an own goal.
“It was similar to the first game, Kidderminster had the lion’s share of the possession and kept the ball well. We kept our shape and looked like we were going to frustrate them,” Heeley said.
“It was a difficult afternoon for us, I can’t criticise the boys because they have worked really hard.”
The City chief expects to be without Hughes for four games after the striker was sent off for the second time this season.
Oji is also suspended for three games after he was given his marching orders during the Boxing Day derby.