United Counties League
Sleaford Town 2
Harrowby United 1
Sleaford Town claimed bragging rights in a closely fought midweek derby game at their Eslaforde Park ground.
The game began in a very disjointed fashion with both teams squandering possession far too easily, far too often. Harrowby created the first chance of the game after 16 minutes when a ball from Scott Webb set up a shooting chance for new recruit Ian Hillier, but the midfielder shot wide of the goal.
The home responded and on 19 minutes a cross from the right found an unmarked Ryan Oliver in the penalty area, but he could only direct his header straight at Harrowby custodian Craig Rhodes.
Sleaford went in front seconds later when another cross from the right was headed out by Billy Stubbs only as far as Ryan Clarke who hit a sweet right foot half volley past Rhodes from 20 yards.
The Arrows levelled things up just past the half hour mark when a ball over from the right was picked up by Webb who turned smartly to fire a low shot past Sleaford keeper Alex Pycock and into the right hand corner of the net.
Parity lasted only two minutes when Joe Smith out on the right turned inside, leaving both Simon Bolland and Rick Brewer stranded before delivering a cross into the box which dipped over the head of Stubbs to reach unmarked midfielder Joe Braithwaite on the edge of the six yard box. He side footed home on the volley past a helpless Rhodes.
Both sides had chances to add to their respective tallies in the minutes leading up to half time. Firstly, Bolland played a nice through ball to Webb who held off his marker before dragging a shot past the left hand post. At the other end, George Asplin had a close range shot saved by an outstretched leg of Rhodes before the ball was hacked up field in the ensuing scramble. The ball found its way to Danny Durkin who fired a low right foot shot which beat Pycock but struck the base of the left hand upright and bounced clear.
The final action of the half saw a Sleaford corner from the right find Smith at the back post, whose shot was again saved by Rhodes’ outstretched right leg before Ben Brown knocked the rebound wide.
The second half proved somewhat of an anti-climax as both teams huffed and puffed but failed to create quality chances. Half time substitute Lewis Watson lobbed keeper Pycock after 49 minutes but the ball also cleared the frame of the goal.
Five minutes later, Watson shot from distance but his effort was comfortably saved by Pycock. Another Arrows debutant, George Stainfield won the ball in midfield after 67 minutes and played the ball through to the lively Watson who shot wide. Four minutes later, a Webb free kick from the left found Stubbs in the penalty area but the Arrows centre back could only divert the ball wide of the goal.
Enjoying their best spell of the game, Harrowby put the Greens on the back foot but could not convert possession into a clear goal threat. The only real concern for Sleaford came a minute from time when a cross into the box was fumbled by Pycock, but the big stopper was grateful to his defence as an initial shot was blocked before the danger cleared.
Harrowby United: Rhodes, Currall (Twentyman, 83), Brewer, Hill, Stubbs (c), Hillier, Stainfield (Andersen, 70), Bolland, Bridge, Durkin, Webb.