United Counties League
Irchester United 2
Harrowby United 3
Harrowby United’s trip to Northamptonshire for this cup tie saw kick-off delayed because of traffic congestion as a number of Harrowby players were late arriving.
The lack of pre-match preparation did not affect the Arrows and an early cross into the box from wide man Richemone Sylla was stabbed just wide by Luke Peberdy.
The opening 20 minutes, on the whole, were very even with goal chances at a premium.
After 26 minutes, the Arrows went in front. Peberdy was fouled on the edge of the penalty area and Joel Carta stepped up to drive the free kick low around the defensive wall and into the bottom right hand corner of the net.
The ‘Romans’ responded and had a good opportunity after 37 minutes when a deep free kick into the Harrowby box was met by Nathan Heycock who directed his header just wide.
Five minutes later, Sylla had a golden chance to double Harrowby’s advantage when a perfectly weighted through-ball from Carta sent him in on goal. He delayed getting a shot away, however, allowing Laurence Taylor just enough time to put in a fine sliding challenge, and the chance was gone.
Two minutes before the interval, it proved a costly miss as another free kick into the box was met again by Heycock, who this time directed it away from the despairing dive of keeper Sam Andrews and into the net.
Harrowby were straight on the offensive as the second half began and went back in front four minutes in. Tawanda Bilson broke up an Irchchester attack and played the ball to Carta. The Arrows midfielder carried the ball forward, allowing Sam Grouse to drive on and and get on the end of another defence-splitting through-ball. With work still to be done Arrow’s top scorer Grouse carried the ball into the penalty area, drew Irchester keeper Dale Hamilton, before slotting a low shot into the net.
On 56 minutes, Grouse gave Harrowby a two-goal cushion, this time receiving a pass from Joe Briers and firing a low shot which sneaked in at the foot of the post.
Irchester tried to get back into the game and continued to get the ball forward. Josh Burge fired over on the hour mark.
Harrowby’s defence coped with most of the threats without too much trouble although they were made to sweat in stoppage time as a move down the right saw Jared Harewood get to the byline. As he prepared to pull the ball back, Jack Whyley attempted a rash tackle and brought Harewood down.
Referee Mr Brough had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and experienced defender Dan Spaughton calmly despatched the spot kick to reduce the deficit to a single goal.
But Harrowby comfortably saw out the remaining moments to advance into the second round of the competition.
Harrowby United: Andrew, Currall (c), Hogg, Whyley, Bilson, Phillip, Carta, Briers, Grouse, Peberdy, Sylla (Wroughton 84).
l Harrowby United are at home to Irchester United in the league on Saturday. Kick-off 3pm.