Extra Preliminary Round
Harrowby United 2
Thetford Town 1
Harrowby United started their season with their first ever FA Cup tie at the Environcom Stadium, and they did not disappoint with a hard earned victory.
Trailing by a single goal at half time, they produced an excellent second performance with goals from Bilyk and Clark to give them their first win in the FA Cup at the third time of asking.
Thetford started the better, putting the Arrows defence under pressure from the start and were rewarded as early as the fourth minute when Luke Bailey found Robbie Priddle in space and he made no mistake, firing past Rhodes from the edge of the penalty area.
The visitors went close again in the 10th minute when Priddle beat the offside trap but were forced wide by Rhodes in the Harrowby goal. Harrowby had a good chance two minutes later when Matty Clarke was put through by Liam Harper but was denied by Barnes in the Thetford goal.
The visitors should have extended their lead after Ross Bailey rounded Rhodes but somehow he could not find the empty goal. Harrowby then rallied and should have equalised when Wilkinson also rounded the keeper only to see his goalbound effort cleared.
The visitors responded well and again had a good opportunity to stretch their advantage when Mortimer’s effort was cleared off the line by Billy Stubbs. Both teams created chance in the last 10 minutes of the half but neither could find the net.
Harrowby brought on Yembertiz after the break and were soon putting the Thetford defence under pressure, and were unlucky when Wilknson saw his powerful shot tipped wide of the post.
On 55 minutes, Harrowby made a double substitution when they introduced Bilyk and Woolley and were rewarded five minutes later when Woolley’s powerful run and cross found Bilyk at the back post who fired home the equaliser from close range.
The game was now an even affair with both teams pressing hard. Yembertiz and Harper were linking well in the Harrowby midfield.
With 20 minutes remaining, Harper’s strong run was ended when he was fouled 35 yards out. Joe Clark delivered the resulting free kick and to Harrowby’s joy it eluded everyone including the keeper to give Harrowby the lead.
In a frantic final 15 minutes, both teams pressed hard. The visitors piled on the pressure with a succession of corners but were unable to find an opening, whilst Harrowby went close when Stubbs headed over the bar from Bilyk’s corner.
With only three minutes remaining, Thetford forced more corners and almost found the equaliser when Priddle’s header rebounded off the Harrowby crossbar. In the final few minutes, the Harrowby defence of Stubbs and Whyley were in no mood to surrender the lead and with the referee playing six minutes of added time, United held on to their lead to record the win..
Harrowby United now face a trip to Ryman League side Soham Town Rangers in the Preliminary Round of the competition next Saturday (August 20).