United Counties League
Rushden & Higham 3
Harrowby United 2
Harrowby United travelled to Rushden and Higham’s Hayden Road ground in weather that almost resembled the monsoon season.
In very difficult conditions, both teams tried to get the ball down and play and the Arrows struck first, in the 10th minute. A free kick into the Rushden penalty area was headed out by Sam Fowler but only as far as Joel Carta. The Harrowby midfielder took a touch before firing home a right foot shot that gave Kyle Swailes in the home side’s opener.
Rushden responded and having forced a corner in the 13th minute, Fowler was unlucky to see his header go narrowly wide. A minute later a long ball through from Arrows’ Joe Briers was picked up by Bruno Holden who advanced on goal but shot wide.
Harrowby doubled their lead after 22 minutes when, having won a free kick out on the left, Sam Grouse whipped a cross into the penalty area which was powerfully headed home by skipper Ash Miles, his first goal for the club.
Rushden again responded positively and a throw-in down the right wasn’t cleared by Arrows full back Roberto Labbate, before being picked up by Nat Gosnal-Taylor on the right. The wide man cut inside before confidently slotting the ball past Sam Andrew in the Harrowby goal.
A defining moment of the game in the 32nd minute saw Andrew get down to parry a shot from the edge of the box. The keeper scrambled to his feet to claim the loose ball before being unceremoniously clattered by Rusden striker Jake Reynolds.
There then followed a 17-minute hold-up before Andrew was forced to leave the field with damaged ribs. Surprisingly, referee Mr Jackson decided to take no action against Reynolds.
With no replacement keeper on the bench, Jack Havron replaced Andrew between the sticks. He was called into action almost immediately, tipping an effort from long range around his left hand post.
Rushden levelled the scores 12 minutes into stoppage time at the end of the half when, after a patience build-up, they worked the ball into the penalty area to Reynolds who produced a sweet chipped finish over Havron from around 10 yards out.
The rain continued to bucket down as the second half started and within a minute Rushden went ahead. The ‘Lankies’ made progress down the left before switching play over to the right towards substitute Louis McMahon. McMahon held off his marker, Labbate, who had got the wrong side of his man and fired a low shot past Havron and into the net.
Back came Harrowby and another good delivery was again headed goalwards by Miles, but the ball hit Fowler and bounced to safety.
After 71 minutes, another good ball from Grouse found Holden who shot straight at Swailes as Harrowby pushed for an equaliser.
Three minutes later, Swailes made the save of the game as a cross from Briers out wide found the head of substitute Luke Peberdy, the ball falling into the path of Holden who smashed a low shot that looked goalbound, only for Swailes to make ground to his right and deflect the ball up and over the bar.
Harrowby continued to press in search of leveller but the Rushden defence held firm to claim the three points.
Harrowby United: Andrew (Havron 32), Currall (Whyley 72), Labbate, Bilson, Miles (c), Briers, Hogg, Carta, Wroughton (Peberdy (62), Holden, Grouse.