Mens 1st Team v Chelmsford W 4-1
Harleston sponsored by Dynamic Club Shops welcomed Chelmsford hoping to continue their good run of form. With many other games called off, Harleston had the chance to put some breathing space between them and the teams below. After a morning weather report from manager Kevin Ridley, the team prepared for a cold wintery day at The Nest.
The team welcomed back Ben Gowing, Will Tew and Tom Dunnett into the squad after a mid-season break and gave Ollie Juszt in goal his 1st team debut fresh after being selected for the England U18 side. With a motivation team talk by captain Ridley and coach Whiteman, Harleston started the stronger making some good link up play down the right with Tom Sumner and Dave Gilbert. But it was Chelmsford who created the first big chance on the counter-attack with a shot/cross but the deflection was missed.
With this scare, Harleston kicked up a gear pressing high and so winning a lot of high ball from the likes of James Gray. Chelmsford always had a threat from a long ball forward and crosses out wide, one of which finding a Magpies foot resulting in a short corner. A strong hand from the young keeper Ollie Juszt and a clearance wide by Leigh Sitch found Tom Ridley, who quickly passed the ball down the line catching Chelmsford off-guard. Tom Dunnett threaded a pin-point pass to Ben Gowing on the edge of D and with his first 2 touches of the game slotted the ball past the keeper to make it 1-0.
It was soon 2-0 with some neat work down the left from the birthday boy Andrew Bedwell and Will Tew finding Raunaq ‘King Ron’ Rai who turned and quickly got a shot off, smashing into the back-board. Magpies continued to have much of the possession but some sloppy passing gave the opposition opportunities to get on the scoreboard. This proved costly as a penalty flick was given from a broken down short corner which despite a touch from the keeper, it was too powerful and made the score 2-1.
With 2 minutes left to play in the first half, a swooping move down the right with Tom Sumner, Tim Whiteman and Thomas Ridley all linking together a wonderful opportunity arised. A neat touch from Tim Whiteman found Tom Ridley on the edge of the D, taking it onto his favoured reverse stick but an outreached hand from Chelmsford’s keeper somehow kept it out. Half time score 2-1.
With the supporters wanting more from the Men in the second half, Magpies controlled the game finding gaps in the Chelmsford press and playing forwards as much as possible. The continued pressure soon became too much and a short corner was awarded. A well worked routine from the duo of Andrew Bedwell linking up with his partner in crime Leigh Sitch for a diving deflection past the keeper resulting in jubilant celebrations.
The weather soon turned but Harleston did not take their foot off the pedal with plenty of men getting into scoring opportunities. Some slick 3D skills from Raunaq Rai found Tom Dunnett at the back post who volleyed it home from 2 yards to make it 4-1. The last 15 minutes was an uneventful end with the opposition sitting deep and allowing the likes of Pete Bale and Jack Hobbs plenty of time and space on the ball. A few more half chances were had but the shots just going wide of target.
Final score 4-1. Harleston travel to Cambridge Uni next weekend in another important game in the fight for the East Prem title.
Man of the Match – Ben Gowing and Richard Larkin