Harleston Magpies Mens first team, sponsored by Dynamic Club Shops, hosted Cambridge City 2s at Weybread on Saturday afternoon. After 5 wins in a row, a 6th win would move Harleston one step closer to a well deserved return to national league. Manager K.Ridley prepared and delivered a speech demanding that there was focus from the word go and the values of the squad were adhered to. Magpies knew this was a potential banana skin and that Cambridge deserved respect.
When the teams met earlier in the season magpies controlled the game, but struggled to breakdown a well organised City side. This seemed to be the case again. For the first 10 minutes, Harleston had the majority of possession but struggled to penetrate the circle as their opposition implemented the half court press and were happy to soak up pressure. Richard Gill and Tom Ridley wanted patience in the build up and expressed the need to use the wide channels in order to find the space.
It wasn’t until late in the first half that the deadlock was broken. Turnover ball in midfield, followed by a strong run from captain Tom Ridley created space for Simon Hipwell to tidy up a loose ball and slot home from 5 yards, adding to his impressive goal tally for the club. The whole of Weybread breathed a little easier heading into half time.
Harleston knew they were in 2nd gear, weren’t working hard enough off the ball, and were making too many individual errors. But were pleased to be leading and hoping to use the first half as a stepping stone for a flurry of goals in the second half.
A good start, with lots of possession, a high tempo and good ball pace enabled magpies to play their style in the right areas of the pitch, unfortunately they couldn’t find the all important second goal through open play or a short corner routine.
Resilience, determination and self belief have been a large part of the success in this campaign, and once again the magpies had to dig deep in order to take all 3 points, as with 20 minutes to go, City scored a penalty corner to draw level. Many of the supporters would have felt aggrieved after so much control, but Harleston only had themselves to blame for not closing this game out already.
Like so many times this season, the belief was in tact, and after patient build up it was in fact Dave Skinner who found the winner, with a neat and composed finish at the back post. Skinner dedicated the goal to his new born son.
Cambridge did win two late penalty corners which caused nervy moments, however the short corner defence team excelled and kept City at bay. Magpies then took the heat out of the game, and ensured that they closed the game out without a late equaliser
This was Jack Hobbs last game for the club, and the side will miss his contributions for the remainder of the season. He now heads off travelling via Exeter. The squad wishes him well.
The team has four games left of the season, up next an away game at Bedford.