United Counties League
Harrowby United 3
Harrowby United welcomed Lincolnshire neighbours Blackstones FC from Stamford on an extremely wet Tuesday evening under the lights at Dickens Road.
Stones tried to get the ball down and play a passing game on a very difficult surface and it was their undoing in the seventh minute. Awarded a free kick out wide on the left, level with the penalty area, keeper Aaron Bellairs took the kick and elected to play short. Harrowby forcing a rushed clearance which was headed back towards the Stones goal by Joe Briers. It was latched on to by Sam Grouse who nodded the ball into the empty net with Bellairs still scrambling to get back.
The somewhat gifted opening goal raised the Arrows’ confidence and they had a chance to double their advantage just past the half hour mark. Good work advancing down the right flank by Jorrin John ended with him cutting the ball back to Jack Gurney who blasted his shot over the cross bar.
The second goal came three minutes later. Tawanda Bilson drove forward from right back, surged into the Stones penalty area was clipped by a defender, giving referee Mr Pywell no hesitation in awarding a penalty kick. Harrowby top scorer Grouse stepped up and confidently tucked the ball away.
Stones continued to pass the ball around but lacked any real punch in the final third, allowing Harrowby to counter attack at pace and with a couple of minutes of the half remaining, Jurelle Phillip raced down the left before passing the ball to Aboubacar Sylla who moved it ball inside to John who fizzed a powerful right foot effort inches over the cross bar.
Grouse completed a first hat trick with the pick of the three. He picked up a loose pass in midfield and, with one thought in mind, set off goalwards. Leaving one defender for pace and holding off another as he entered the penalty area, he spotted Bellairs coming off his line and slotted the ball low into the net with virtually the last kick of the half.
Blackstones came out all guns blazing at the start of the second period and two minutes in pulled a goal back. Ben Easson pushed further forward after the break, made a run down the right before crossing into the box. The unfortunate Jack Havron in attempting to block the cross sliced the ball up into the air and it dropped fortuitously into the net at the far post, giving Arrows keeper Sam Andrew no chance.
The goal gave Stones heart and just before the hour Liam Harold saw his shot dip just over. Bellairs made a save just after from a low Grouse shot. Gurney again tested Bellairs after 63 minutes, and three minutes later the Stones keeper kept out a header from Grouse.
Andrew was alert to a good effort from distance by Lee Clarke shortly before Harrowby had a guilt-edged chance to add a fourth goal. Sylla made great strides into the penalty area and with the opportunity to either shoot himself or pass square inside to an unmarked Grouse, delayed on both counts, allowing defenders to get back and crowd him out.
Stones to their credit kept pushing for goals as the game drew to a close, the closest being in the 87th minute when Harold shot wide from the edge of the six yard box.
Harrowby United: Andrew, Bilson, Currall (c), Havron, Phillip, Sylla, Hogg, Briers, John, Gurney, Grouse.Subs not used: Whyley, Smith, Matthews.