United Counties League
Harrowby United 3
Sleaford Town 1
Harrowby United avenged an early season defeat with a fine victory over close neighbours Sleaford Town in a Christmas cracker at the Environcom Stadium.
Sleaford started the game brightly in blustery conditions and on a very sticky surface, and they took the lead in the 11th minute when a Brad Hockin free kick from a good 30 yards out deceived Arrows custodian Jonny Hotson, the ball dipping over the big stopper and into the net.
Harrowby responded two minutes later when, under pressure, Billy Stubbs kept the ball alive out on the left and passed to Lewis Watson. The Arrows left back played the ball in behind the Sleaford back four for the ever alert Danny Durkin who confidently rounded Sleaford keeper Paul McGann before stroking the ball into the empty net.
Harrowby, having gained the ascendancy in a very competitive local derby, were denied by McGann in the 25th minute when good work from Durkin created a shooting chance for Fraser Bayliss, the keeper getting down well to smother the shot.
Ten minutes later, the keeper got his positioning right from a Harrowby corner, being in the right place to save a downward header from centre back Jack Whyley. Seven minutes before the break, Sleaford’s top scorer Ryan Oliver got on the end off a deep cross into the Arrows penalty area, but could only head wide of the goal.
Harrowby began the second half well and only three minutes after the restart a long ball out of defence from Simon Bolland set Bayliss away, but the youngster shot straight at McGann. On 55 minutes, Oliver tried his luck from distance but saw his low shot well saved by Hotson. Two minutes later, Hotson again did well tipping a cross-cum-shot from the left over the crossbar.
Durkin gave Harrowby the lead in the 62nd minute when a move down the right ended with the ball played inside to the on-form marksman. Durkin took a touch before firing a crisp right foot shot across McGann and into the far corner of the net.
Harrowby’s third arrived 10 minutes later when a long clearance upfield by Hotson was gathered by Durkin who ran at the Sleaford defence, getting to the byline before cutting the ball back to Callum Wilkinson. Wilkinson made no mistake with a cool right foot shot placed just inside the post which gave the keeper no chance.
After 75 minutes, McGann again came to Sleaford’s rescue with a double save, firstly blocking a low shot from Wilkinson and then getting back on his feet to deny Bayliss from the ensuing scramble.
Three minutes later, Sleaford had a golden opportunity to cut the deficit when they were awarded a penalty. A late tackle from Whyley was adjudged to be inside the area despite Harrowby’s protestations that the foul was committed outside the box. Harry Millard stepped up to take the spot kick and blazed his effort high over the cross bar to Harrowby’s and especially Whyley’s relief.
The home side saw out the remaining minutes comfortably to claim bragging rights in a hard fought local derby in front of a healthy crowd of 121.
Harrowby man of the match was Danny Durkin.
Harrowby United: Hotson, Bolland, Watson, Whyley, Stubbs (c), Martin, Hill, Hillier (Floyd, 52), Bayliss, Wilkinson (Andersen, 81), Durkin. Subs not used: Currall, Dunn, Jessop.
+ Harrowby United travel to Newport Pagnell Town on Saturday, kick-off 3pm.