United Counties League
Harrowby United 1
Newport Pagnell Town 2
Harrowby United welcomed Buckinghamshire outfit Newport Pagnell Town to Dickens Road expecting another tough game against opposition who enjoyed a great run in the FA Vase, losing to favourites South Shields in the quarter-finals.
The Arrows got off to a sluggish start and the visitors took advantage with an early goal. A free kick by Liam Smyth was played into the Arrows penalty area Swans centre back Dave Barker made the most of slack marking to power home a header after only four minutes.
Shortly afterwards, Pagnell went close to doubling their lead when Dom Lawless set up a chance for Elliot Sandy, but the striker was denied by a fine save from Arrows custodian Chris Bennett who got a strong right hand to Sandy’s effort to turn the ball around his right hand post. The resulting corner was only half cleared as far as Sam O’Neil whose shot was tipped around the post by Bennett.
Harrowby’s injury nightmare continued in the 12th minute when the unfortunate Luke Peberdy, only two games into a comeback from a previous injury, went over on his ankle and was forced to leave the field, replaced by Simon Bolland who made a welcome return himself after three months out with a knee injury.
Pagnell increased their lead in the 17th minute with a carbon copy of the first goal. Harrowby, having failed to learn their lesson, allowed Barker another free header and he again found the net.
After the goal, the game became a bit ill-tempered which seemed to encourage the Arrows. Pagnell defender Adam Pryke was lucky to get away with an off-the-ball kick on Anderson Uduovie as none of the officials saw the lash out.
Harrowby got back into the game in the 34th minute when Ben Sharpe played a free kick deep into the Swans penalty area. The ball wasn’t dealt with by the visitors’ defence and found its way through to Matt Clarke who poked the ball past keeper Mark Osbourne to halve the deficit.
The last chance of the half came on the stroke of half time when Stuart Smeathers played in Swans striker Lawless whose shot was well blocked by Arrows right back Nick Eatough.
The second half was a scrappy affair with chances at a premium as the two teams cancelled each other out.
Pagnell created a shooting chance for Sandy in the 63rd minute which was deflected behind for a corner by John Currall. Barker had a chance of a third goal but this time his header from a corner kick drifted across the goal.
Darryl Smith went closest to a goal when, from another corner, his header stuck Bennett’s right hand post before being scrambled away.
As full time approached, Sandy had a shot superbly blocked by Arrows left back Sharpe.
Arrows found time for one more attempt at levelling when a teasing ball across the Swans penalty area from Bolland just eluded stretching midfielder Lorcan Hickey.
The final whistle came to give Pagnell a fifth straight victory but no points for the Arrows, although they can take heart from an improved competitive performance.
Harrowby United: Bennett, Eatough, Sharpe, Currall (c), Uduovie, McCartney, Hickey, Browne, Floyd, Peberdy (Bolland 12), Clarke (Denty 85). Subs not used: Godfrey, Farmer.