United Counties League
Harrowby United 2
Sleaford Town 1
Harrowby United took the Boxing Day derby honours in a hard-fought odd goal in three victory at the Environcom Stadium.
The Arrows got at their neighbours right from the off to try and stamp their authority on a Sleaford side looking for their third successive victory.
In the first minute, Liam Motson found himself some room out on the right and delivered a fine cross to the far post for strike partner Lee Shaw whose header went just wide. After six minutes, Motson struck a fierce shot from outside the area that fizzed just over the cross bar.
Harrowby opened the scoring on eight minutes with a well-worked goal. Lewis Watson made a surging run down the left flank and slipped the ball inside to Shaw. The livewire Arrows striker held the ball up before producing a fine piece of skill to turn his marker. He squared the ball to Arrows man-of-the-match Motson who made no mistake from inside the six-yard box, lifting the ball over diving Sleaford keeper Phil McGann and into the net.
Harrowby doubled their lead from the penalty spot after 13 minutes. Shaw did well with a direct run into the penalty area before being brought down by a clumsy challenge from young full back Adam Underwood-Hartley. Referee Mr Saunby had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
After treatment for Shaw, injured in the challenge, Scott Webb stepped up and calmly stroked the ball home, sending keeper McGann diving the wrong way.
Ten minutes later, Harrowby thought they had another good shout for a penalty as Shaw was again felled in the box, but this time Mr Saunby dismissed their appeals.
Sleaford came more into the game and put the Arrows back line under increasing pressure. Just after the 21-minute mark, after a good build-up, Harrowby glove man Jack Drury made a super save to deny Ewan Clarke, diving to push a goalbound effort away with a strong right hand.
The Arrows stopper maintained the home side’s two-goal lead on the stroke of half time as he did well to parry an effort resulting from a scramble on the six-yard line, and then recovered to hack the ball away to safety as two Sleaford players looked favourite to reach the ball in front of a gaping goal.
The visitors, having turned around a half time deficit in their previous game, looked to do the same after the restart.
The lead was halved after 53 minutes when Sleaford’s player/assitant manager Terry Fleming played a fine defence-splitting pass for Liam Tunstall to run on to. With work still to be done, Tunstall took the ball around Drury and slotted home a very accomplished finish.
Three minutes later, Webb had the chance to restore the two-goal cushion but was denied when through on goal by a good save from McGann.
Just before the hour mark, Drury produced the save of the game. A free kick into the Arrows area was met by a good downward header from striker Clarke, only for Drury to throw himself to his right and scoop the ball away to safety.
Sleaford continued to push and a Tunstall shot from distance was this time comfortably saved by Drury after 62 minutes.
Harrowby replaced their two central midfielders, Simon Bolland and Tom Potts, with Luke Peberdy and, returning from injury, Jack Whyley in an unaccustomed role with just over 20 minutes left.
The fresh legs seemed to work as Sleaford were restricted to long-range efforts with their build-up play thwarted by a resolute back line as Harrowby, for the first time in a while, saw the game out.
Match sponsor was Indulgence Delivered.
Harrowby United: Drury (c), Weatherstone (Currall, 45), Clarke, Hill, Stubbs, Webb, Potts (Peberdy, 64), Bolland (Whyley, 68), Watson, Motson, Shaw. Subs not used: Daykin, Hotchin.