United Counties League
Long Buckby 2
Harrowby United 2
Harrowby United travelled to Long Buckby’s Station Road ground on a wet, miserable afternoon wondering if the game would even go ahead due to constant rain.
On arrival, the rain subsided but both teams knew a difficult game was in front of them on a saturated but just playable surface.
Harrowby got off to a great start when, after only five minutes, a long kick forward from keeper Sam Andrew looked to be going through to his opposite number, Jordan May. May misjudged the ball’s path and only got a hand on the ball as it went over him, leaving Arrows top scorer Sam Grouse with the simple task of taking the ball forward and rolling into an empty net.
Andrew preserved the Arrows’ lead on 13 minutes when he did well to push a Ben Wilson header over the cross bar.
But on 20 minutes, Wilson levelled for the ‘Bucks’ when he met a corner from the right with a powerful header into the roof of the net that gave Sam Andrew no chance.
Bucks keeper May redeemed himself after his early mistake with a string of fine saves. The first was on 28 minutes when he came off his line to narrow Grouse’s angle for a shot, half stopping the low drive before the ball was cleared by Wilson, as Jawanza Grant looked to capitalise on the loose ball.
The pitch was beginning to cut up badly as the game progressed, the players struggling more and more to keep their feet. Harrowby’s Felix Hogg was cautioned by referee Mr Ajisola just past the half hour mark, mistiming a sliding challenge in the mud and catching Patrick O’Brian to earn a yellow card that was to prove costly in the second half.
Harrowby started the second half well and, four minutes in, Richmone Sylla did well down the left, taking the ball forward before playing it inside to Grouse who turned in the box and fired a low shot, deflected for a corner. The delivery from Ben Browne was good and met by a strong header from Jack Whyley that May did well to turn over the bar.
The Arrows were dominating at this point and just before the hour mark Grant picked up a through-ball and advanced goalwards. His first shot was blocked by Sam Birtwistle, a second by the keeper and the third by a combination of both, before the ball was cleared.
After 61 minutes, May again saved as Hogg fired a sweetly struck shot from a headed clearance straight at him. It was Hogg’s last real contribution as five minutes later a 50-50 challenge in the middle of the park where he clearly won the ball, was deemed by the referee to be a foul and produced a second yellow to see him sent off and the Arrows reduced to 10 players.
Long Buckby gained confidence from the man advantage and went in front on 68 minutes when Wilson again got his head to a corner from the right, getting in front of Whyley to nod past Andrew.
Buckby lost their man advantage with five minutes remaining when, again, a second yellow card looked harsh as Tom Mellor caught Sylla with a late challenge out on the touchline around halfway.
Harrowby finished the stronger and salvaged a point a minute into stoppage time when a free kick launched into the Buckby penalty area was flicked on by Whyley and picked up by Grant. The young striker kept his composure, and more importantly his feet in the mud, to slot the ball into the net from around six yards out.
Harrowby almost produced a winner with the final action of the game when, deep into stoppage time, the ball was fed through to Grant who drove into the penalty area but was forced wide, before getting a shot away that was again well saved by May in the Buckby goal.
Harrowby United: Andrew, Spencer (c), Sylla, Bilson, Briers, Whyley, Browne (Grouse 90), Hogg, Phillip (Sambor 45), Grant, Grouse. Sub not used: Currall.