Second half display guarantees Harrowby United stay up
United Counties League
Yaxley FC 2
Harrowby United 4
Harrowby travelled to fourth-placed Yaxley with a depleted squad but knew a point would secure UCL Premier League football for next season.
Trailing by a single goal at half time, Harrowby produced one of their finest second half displays of the season, netting four times to stun the home side who had no answer for their quick attacking football and dented any hope that Yaxley had of a top three finish.
Harrowby started brightly, forcing early pressure on the Cuckoos defence, with Lee Shaw and Liam Harper both causing problems, and a fine run by Sam Weatherstone resulted in a corner after five minutes. Harper’s delivery from the flag kick found Harrowby’s man-of-the-match Sam Hill who was unlucky to see his header cleared off the line.
Yaxley settled and started to control the game in midfield, producing a good effort on 15 minutes when Liam Hook saw his shot from 20 yards go inches wide of the post.
Two minutes later, Harrowby were not as fortunate. Yaxley were awarded a free kick wide on the left and Luke Hipwell delivered a perfect right-footed cross which eluded everyone and found its way into Harrowby’s net.
United found themselves pinned in their own half but some resolute defending kept the Cuckoos at bay. On 33 minutes, Weatherstone produced another good run down the right and his cutback found Luke Peberdy 12 yards out but the Arrows midfielder saw his effort go wide of the right post.
In the closing minutes of the first half, both teams had good efforts on goal. Firstly, Scott Carter for the home side saw his 25-yard effort saved by Jack Drury in the Arrows goal and, in the dying seconds of the half, Harper’s through-ball was crucially intercepted when Lee Shaw looked to have a free run on goal.
With the strong breeze now behind them, Harrowby started the second half well and only had to wait a minute for their first chance, when Declan Carr’s effort from 15 yards was blocked. Two minutes later, Hill, Shaw and Harper worked well and created a chance for Peberdy but his effort from 25 out cleared the crossbar.
The breakthrough for Harrowby came in the 55th minute when Harper’s cross was blocked by John Paul Duncliffe, but the loose ball fell to Declan Carr who slotted into the right hand corner to register his first goal for Harrowby.
The Arrows were now full of confidence and a good move down the left between Lewis Watson and John Currall saw the ball deflected out of play and, from the resulting corner, Harper found Hill at the back post who rose to head the ball into the top corner to give Harrowby the lead on the hour mark.
They were unlucky four minutes later when Carr again found space and shot from 25 yards but Aaron Butcher saved well in the Cuckoos goal.
Then, on 69 minutes, Yaxley worked the ball well through midfield and when Scott Carter’s through-ball found Jacob Joyce in space, he made no mistake in slotting home the equaliser from 12 yards.
The response from Harrowby was instant and when Shaw was put through by Harper, it took a good one-handed save by Butcher, diving down to his left to deny Harrowby the lead once more.
The home side were not as fortunate in the 74th minute when Joe Clark’s free kick found Shaw who headed home, unchallenged, from around eight yards.
As Yaxley looked to push players forward in search of another equaliser, Harrowby could have extended their lead on 80 minutes when, on the break, Shaw was again denied by a good save from Butcher who repeated the feat a minute later, this time from a Peberdy effort.
With five minutes remaining, Yaxley pressed hard and Jack Whyley produced the tackle of the game when denying Carter, who was looking to shoot from 12 yards out. The Cuckoos had a great chance to equalise two minutes into added time when Dan Cotton found himself with space two yards out, but Drury saved well with his feet.
With seconds remaining, Harrowby finally put the result beyond doubt when substitute Scott Webb found himself with space to shoot and his effort was only parried into the path of Shaw who slotted home his second and Harrowby’s fourth to give the Arrows a much-deserved victory.
The win completed a sequence of five wins and a draw in their last nine games that has transformed Harrowby’s season.
Harrowby United: Drury (c), Weatherstone, Clarke, Hill, Whyley, Watson (Webb, 89), Currall, Harper, Peberdy, Carr, Shaw.