FOOTBALL: Harrowby United lose by slenderest of margins
United Counties League
Harrowby United 0
Raunds Town 1
Harrowby United welcomed Northamptonshire outfit Raunds Town to Dickens Road knowing a tough encounter was on the cards.
Difficult conditions underfoot after heavy rain made fast flowing, passing football a non-starter, but the two teams still served up an entertaining afternoon’s football.
The ‘Shopmates’ enjoyed early possession but Harrowby carved out the better chances. After only five minutes, Jawanza Grant ran at the Raunds defence and was thwarted by a sliding tackle. The ball fell kindly for Arrows top scorer Sam Grouse who was confident enough to try and take the ball around keeper Chris Jones, but the Raunds skipper came out on top of the one-on-one chance.
Grouse provided a chance for fellow striker Grant shortly after, although the shot was too close to Jones who gathered comfortably.
On 14 minutes Jones saved again, beating away a powerful shot from distance by Jurelle Phillip. A minute later, Grouse fizzed a left foot shot just over the crossbar as chances came and went for the home side.
Raunds went close to the opening goal after 20 minutes when a scramble in the Harrowby penalty area resulted in a shot from Mason Thomas, which was well saved by an outstretched leg of Harrowby custodian Sam Andrew. The ball fell for Harry Lloyd, who to the Arrows’ relief, skewed the rebound wide of the left hand upright.
Chances still came at both ends and after 26 minutes a free kick from Ben Browne found the head of Grant who directed the effort too close to Jones who made a comfortable save. Two minutes later, a quick Raunds free kick caught Harrowby napping and a cross into the Arrows box was headed wide by Adam Randall.
As the half drew to a close, Arrows midfielder Kuweshi Ofushine fed a fine through-ball for Grouse who dragged a low shot inches wide of the post.
Ty Clark had the final chance of the half for the visitors, running through and firing a shot that was turned behind for a corner by Andrew.
Harrowby started the second period brightly and just before the hour mark opened up the Raunds defence. A fine ball through from Ofushine was played into the path of Grant who was cynically brought down by centre back Scott Manning as he approached the penalty area. Grouse took the free kick but his shot was easily saved by Jones.
Goal scoring opportunities became more scarce as defences gained the upper hand, although a strong run from Grouse after 69 minutes ended with a shot that went just wide of the goal.
Harrowby went agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock on 73 three minutes when a ball out from his own half by Felix Hogg set Browne away and, after advancing on goal, the youngster struck a fine dipping effort which beat Jones only to cannon back off the cross bar. The ball was picked up by Grouse who fired a shot goalwards that was parried away by Jones.
After 79 minutes, Andrew saved well to palm a way a shot from Thomas. The game looked more and more likely to be decided by a mistake or tired legs, and Raunds got that bit of luck with 10 minutes remaining. A long punted clearance out of defence went over the Harrowby rearguard and headed toward the box.
Andrew advanced from his area to clear the ball but, having called for the ball, was undone by a little touch past him by unfortunate defender Jack Havron. The touch took the two Arrows players out of the game and left Raunds striker Clark a gift and the simple task of rolling the ball into an empty net.
Raunds saw out the remaining minutes to claim an excellent three points which kept them in second position in the league. But it was a tough result for the Arrows who deserved something from the game.
Harrowby United: Andrew, Spencer (c), Phillip, Briers, Whyley (Bilson 88), Havron (Smith 88), Hogg, Browne, Ofushine, Grant (Sylla 70), Grouse. Subs not used: Currall, Grouse.