Harrowby United share points in season opener

Ngomi Dongo
Ngomi Dongo

United Counties League

Premier Division

Northampton Spencer 1

Harrowby United 1

The new season began for Harrowby United with a trip to last season’s United Counties League Division One champions Northampton Spencer on a hot and sunny afternoon.

In a game that was an even affair from the first whistle to the last, both teams looked to stamp their authority early on.

The best chance of the early exchanges fell to Harrowby when Jack Whyley set Jordan Thomas away down the right flank. Thomas whipped a teasing ball across the Spencer goal but keeper Jordan Avery got down well to block Scott Webb’s shot at the far post with his legs.

The Millers responded and some good build-up play saw Jack Bartley feed the ball in to Ryan Lovell on the edge of the penalty area, but he was thwarted by a well-timed tackle from Whyley.

The Arrows continued to create chances and on 25 minutes a free kick from Webb found Billy Stubbs whose header was deflected behind for a corner. From the resultant kick, Harrowby’s man-of-the-match Ngoni Dongo headed over the crossbar.

In a good period for the visitors another corner after 28 minutes fell for Whyley whose shot on the turn was well blocked.

Spencer reacted and brought the best out of Harrowby custodian Jack Drury after 32 minutes when Luke Stone found Matt Long out on the left. Long cut inside and curled a fine effort that looked in all the way, until Drury sprang high to his left to finger tip the ball over the bar.

As half time approached, the home side created another good chance when Bartley played a fine ball in from the right which was met first time by Stone, but the shot cleared the bar.

Harrowby made the breakthrough 10 minutes into the second period. A free kick into the box was headed down by Whyley to Liam Harper. The Arrows midfielder was crowded out but the ball fell kindly to an unmarked Webb who made no mistake, slotting the ball past Avery from six yards out.

Five minutes later, Spencer’s Bartley curled a shot just wide. From the restart, the ball found its way to Harper at the other end whose shot drifted just wide, with Avery scrambling.

The equaliser came after 66 minutes when substitute Ashley Clamp crossed low into the box and the ball was only cleared as far as Stone. The Spencer skipper controlled and fired a sweet right foot shot into the net, giving Drury no chance.

With a minute remaining, Harrowby thought they had won it when a cross from the right by the tireless Danny Durkin found Kieran Helsdown advancing into the penalty area. The Harrowby substitute’s well-struck shot from around eight yards out was goalbound until Avery pulled off a superb reaction save.

It was a satisfactory first outing for the new look Arrows in a game neither side deserved to lose.

Harrowby United: Drury, Whyley, Watson, Hill, Stubbs (c), Brewer (Currall, 70), Harper, Dongo, Webb (Grundy, 75), Durkin, Thomas (Helsdown, 73). Subs not used: Rhodes.