KIDDERMINSTER Harriers old boy Duane Courtney gifted his former club a flying start to the new season during an inglorious debut for York City.

Courtney, who swapped Aggborough for Bootham Crescent this summer, had only been on the pitch for a quarter of an hour when he needlessly shoved former team-mate Chris McPhee in the penalty box even though both players looked unlikely to meet Tom Shaw’s hopeful right-wing cross to the far post.

Fellow full-back Shaw then duly despatched the 89th-minute spot kick while Courtney, who was roundly booed by visiting fans following his second-half introduction, ended the game trying to pick a fight with City marksman Michael Rankine.

Only the intervention of other Minstermen players seemingly stopped the pair coming to blows.

It was an unsavoury end to a disappointing encounter that also saw Richard Brodie and Rankine childishly squabbling over penalty-taking duties for the second time in four months.

The 6ft 3in, 14 stone Rankine, who was fouled for the spot kick, won the argument just as he did in April at Eastbourne.

And, also as on that afternoon, he successfully converted from 12 yards, handing the home side an 83rd-minute lifeline after they had fallen behind to an early goal when Michael Ingham’s misjudgement allowed Callum Gittings to score direct from a corner.

It was a mistake-riddled, ill-disciplined display by the Minstermen who were facing a Harriers team including nine full debutants.

In contrast, midfielder Jonathan Smith was the only new arrival to make Martin Foyle’s starting XI but it was the home side that played like virtual strangers.

The back four looked particularly uncomfortable in each other’s company while Ingham was erratic between the sticks.

Djoumin Sangare, prior to his replacement by Courtney which allowed makeshift right-back Daniel Parslow to switch to the centre of defence, spent most of the afternoon chasing the ball, which led to massive gaps between himself and David McGurk.

City also struggled to penetrate down the flanks with left-back James Meredith strangely reluctant to forage into the final third of the pitch and winger Peter Till’s first-half introduction for injured midfielder Levi Mackin making no discernible difference.

Three missed chances from Richard Brodie, meanwhile, meant last season’s leading Blue Square Premier marksman was uncharacteristically wasteful in front of goal It would be ridiculous to read too much into the opening game of the new campaign and, after all, City lost their first fixture of last season – albeit unfortunately 2-1 at Oxford – before going on to comfortably secure a top-five finish.

But the parallels between Saturday’s match and one three years ago that triggered a play-off hangover from which the club only really recovered last season will not be lost on City supporters. Then, having lost out to Morecambe over two legs in May 2007, the Minstermen went down 2-1 to Cambridge with Stuart Elliott the disastrous debutant sent off after conceding a penalty and goalkeeper Tom Evans carrying his play-off nightmare into the following campaign.

Courtney, Ingham and the club must now show the character to ensure history does not repeat itself.

Defensive confusion dogged City from the start on Saturday as a Parslow miskick saw Mark Albrighton go close with a deflected hooked shot before Gittings opened the scoring on ten minutes.

An over-eager Ingham appeared to make an early decision to come for the left-sided flag kick before he could have accurately judged the flight of Gittings’ delivery and the ball sailed over him into the top corner of his net.

Two minutes later, City should have fallen two goals behind when Lee Morris sprinted clear on goal after McGurk had been caught flat-footed by a long ball out of defence but the former Derby County striker shot straight at Ingham.

Parslow was then required to make a last-ditch tackle to prevent Gittings enjoying a free pot at Ingham’s goal and the City ’keeper’s lackadaisical afternoon continued when he was fortunate not to be punished for dallying and crashing a clearance straight at McPhee.

Winger Gittings also went close with a near carbon copy of his goal before a bewildered home crowd were finally given something to cheer as Alex Lawless drove narrowly across the face of goal on 17 minutes.

Shortly afterwards, Brodie should have done better when sent clear on goal by Parslow but he sliced into the David Longhurst Stand with his weaker right foot.

At the other end, more poor defending led to a ten-yard chance for McPhee that he drilled straight at Ingham.

Brodie, meanwhile, managed City’s first on-target attempt in the third minute of stoppage time but failed to beat Daniel Lewis from 20 yards.

Kidderminster adopted a less adventurous approach after the interval with substitute Nick Wright left up front as a lone striker and chances began to fall City’s way with Jonathan Smith picking Brodie out perfectly in the penalty box only for the England ‘C’ international to be caught on his heels before eventually missing the target.

Midway through the second period, Foyle sent on Rankine and switched to 4-3-3 and, moments later, an unmarked Brodie should have again found the net but headed over from six yards following Parslow’s cross.

Long-range efforts from Michael Gash and Lawless also called Lewis into action before City were offered a fortuitous route back into the game. An off-balance Rankine, bulldozing his way into the box, fell to the ground with referee Jake Collin deciding Harriers substitute Matty Blair had helped him on his way.

With the pre-penalty antics heaping pressure on his broad shoulders, Rankine then responded by extending his 100 per cent success rate for City to a third spot kick, sidefooting firmly into Lewis’ bottom left-hand corner.

Clearly smarting from being left out of the starting line-up, a pumped up Rankine celebrated his equaliser with vigour but, by the final whistle, that emotion was channelled against an argumentative Courtney after Ingham had narrowly failed to keep out Shaw’s penalty low to his right.

City must now focus that aggression on next opponents Grimsby Town tomorrow night.

Match facts

York City 1 (Rankine 83 (pen)), Kidderminster 2 (Gittings 10; Shaw 90 (pen)

York City: Michael Ingham 5, Danny Parslow 6, David McGurk 6, Djoumin Sangare 5, James Meredith 6, Alex Lawless 7, Levi Mackin 6, Jonathan Smith 6, Chris Carruthers 6, Michael Gash 6, Richard Brodie 5.

Substitutions: Peter Till (for Mackin 39, 6); Michael Rankine (for Carruthers 65, 6); Duane Courtney (for Sangare, 75). Subs not used: Purcell, Barrett.

Key: 10 – Faultless; 9 – Outstanding; 8 – Excellent; 7 – Good; 6 – Average; 5 – Below par; 4 – Poor; 3 – Dud; 2 – Hopeless; 1 – Retire.

City’s star man: Lawless – displayed fleeting moments of quality on a disappointing afternoon.

Kidderminster: Daniel Lewis, Tom Shaw, Michael Briscoe, Mark Albrighton, Mike Williams, Dave Hankin, Keith Briggs, Jack Byrne, Callum Gittings (Matty Blair, 76), Chris McPhee, Lee Morris (Nick Wright, 46).

Subs not used: Aaron Griffiths, Tom Sharpe, Andrew Stevens.

Booked: Smith, Carruthers, Rankine.

Shots on target: York 6, Kidderminster 4.

Shots off target: York 7, Kidderminster 3.

Corners: York 5, Kidderminster 7.

Fouls conceded: York 15, Kidderminster 9.

Offsides: York 0, Kidderminster 2.

Referee: Jake Collin (Liverpool). Rating: first penalty award looked soft and there were a number of puzzling corner/goal kick decisions.

Attendance: 2,682 (177 away fans).

Cross of the match: Parslow’s second-half centre that picked out Brodie six yards from goal.

Miss of the match: Brodie’s off-target header from the aforementioned delivery.

Head to head - Michael Gash v Michael Briscoe

Former Ebbsfleet striker Gash managed to hold off the attentions of Briscoe with his back to goal and showed a degree of vision to bring others into play on occasions.

The City striker also won his fair share of headers against the competitive ex-Tamworth centre-back.

Gash looked like he was gasping for air at times, though, leading to more question marks over his fitness levels.