United Counties League
Deeping Rangers 3
Harrowby United 1
After Saturday’s visit to Newport Pagnell Town fell victim to a waterlogged pitch, Harrowby United’s first fixture of the new year was a trip to Lincolnshire neighbours Deeping Rangers on a chilly Tuesday at the Hayden Whitham Stadium.
The Arrows made a perfect start, going in front inside the first three minutes through debutant Conor Moore. A free kick, for a foul on Liam Motson, was whipped in from the left by Scott Webb and powerfully headed home from just inside the six-yard box by the young centre back.
The following period of the game was evenly contested as both sides looked to grab the game by the scruff of the neck.
Rangers thought they had got back on level terms in the 21st minute when when a ball into the Arrows penalty area from the right was steered into the net by ex-Arrow Ian Ward who saw his effort ruled out for offside. Nine minutes later, Harrowby stopper Jack Drury saved well with his legs, again from a Ward effort and recovered well to dive on the loose ball and snuff out any chance of a follow-up.
The home side finished the half strongly, Jordan Avis shooting just over on 44 minutes and Drury saving from Jezz Goldson-Williams a minute later.
Deeping levelled things up, controversially, three minutes into added time at the end of the half. Ward received the ball just inside the area and theatrically went to ground as he was closed down by Arrows defender Jack Whyley. To the amazement of the visitors, Referee Mr McVey pointed to the penalty spot and Spencer Tinkler stepped up and calmly despatched the spot kick.
The home side started the second period brightly, enjoying the major share of possession, a theme that ran through the whole of the second half.
On 50 minutes, Rangers substitute Jamie Graham fired the half’s first real chance over the cross bar. Two minutes later, Drury pushed away an Avis shot.
Harrowby’s best chance of the half came on 54 minutes when, after a move down the left, the ball was played into the centre of the 18-yard box to Lee Shaw. Shaw, with only the keeper to beat, controlled the ball before shooting too close to Dan Bircham who dived to his left to produce a fine save and push the ball away to safety.
Harrowby lost the dangerous Shaw to a shoulder injury after 64 four minutes, replaced by Sam Weatherstone. Both sides were reduced to 10 players in the 71st first minute when Deeping’s Adam Scotcher reacted badly to a firm but fair tackle from Whyley. The Rangers substitute lashed out at the Arrows man as he walked away, earning him a straight red card. Whyley received a second yellow for his retaliation so was also forced to leave the field of play.
Rangers handled the reduction in numbers better and pressed on, barely missing the ineffectual Scotcher and putting the Harrowby defence under constant pressure. Charlie Coulson, Deeping’s impressive young midfielder, became more and more influential as the clock ticked down and Harrowby looked to hold out for a point.
With seven minutes remaining, Coulson combined well down the Deeping right with Tom Palmer, laying a nice return pass into his fellow midfielder who, from five yards inside the box, shot across Drury and into the top left hand corner for the goal of the game.
The outcome was put beyond any doubt a minute from time when a piece of magic from Coulson saw him advance into the Arrows area, effortlessly gliding past three challenges, before squaring to Avis whose initial shot was blocked by Moore, before he capitalised on the rebound and forced the ball home from a couple of yards out.
Harrowby United’s man of the match was Conor Moore.
Harrowby United: Drury, Currall, Clarke, Moore, Whyley, Webb (Parker, 45), Potts, Hill, Watson, Motson, Shaw (Weatherstone, 64). Subs not used: Daykin, Hotchin.