Kidderminster Harriers 1 St Albans City 3

The good news for Mark Yates and Kidderminster Harriers is that they have 45 matches to repair the horrors of Saturday's opening-day debacle to Conference newcomers St Albans City.

One defeat, albeit as emphatic as this, doesn't a season destroy but the Saints emphasised that every team in non-League's top flight has the capabilities to embarrass any other.

After two forgettable seasons, the pre-match feeling around Aggborough was one of positive excitement. They are certainly not one of the promotion favourites in a league where the wealthy will prosper, but manager Yates (pictured), starting his first full season in charge, looks to have assembled a squad rich in experience and promise and built on a rock-solid team spirit.

It took only 21 minutes, however, to burst the bubble of Harriers' optimism as they trailed 2-0 to goals from Paul Hakim and David Theobald before Lee Clarke netted a penalty two minutes before half-time.

St Albans, last season's Nationwide South play-off winners, were able to relax in the second half and although Harriers dominated possession, visiting goalkeeper Paul Bastock was only tested to save Dean Sturridge's penalty.

Kidderminster, at least, had something to cheer three minutes into stoppage time when Sturridge was fouled and man of the match Jeff Kenna stepped up to clip a swirling 25-yard free-kick into the top corner of the net.

Former Birmingham City defender Kenna, signed from Derby County, was one of nine new faces in the side and while all new signings take time to settle, Yates clearly expected more. He was not in the mood to make excuses afterwards.

"I'm not going to criticise the players," he said. "It's going to take time for this team to gel but it's got to happen sooner rather than later.

"I set high standards and the only person to come out from that game with any credit was Jeff Kenna. We were poor, there's no getting away from the fact. We gave away three sloppy goals."

Harriers' own errors handed the visitors their first two goals. Dwane Lee's intercepted pass on the halfway line led to Saints' opener when Adam Wilde's perfect pass allowed Hakim to hammer in a low shot on eight minutes and then the defence was left at six and sevens on 21 minutes for central defender Theobald to glance home Matt Hann's left-wing corner.

It went from bad to worse two minutes from half-time. Home skipper Stuart Whitehead clattered Hakim to concede a penalty and fellow striker Clarke rattled in his spot-kick with style.

By the time Harriers earned a spot-kick 15 minutes from time, they were only playing for pride. Saints defender Gary Elphick was penalised for handball and harshly sent off, but Sturridge's stop and shimmy failed to deceive Bastock, who guessed right and saved low to his left and then bravely blocked Luke Reynolds' follow-up.

Kenna's unerring accuracy from 25 yards at least got Harriers on the scoresheet and gave them something to build on when they head to Burton Albion tomorrow night.

"We've got to go to Burton and get a positive reaction," said Yates. "Myself and my staff will be working doubly hard to make sure we do."