Harleston travelled to Bedford in what could be a season defining event, with the group knowing that a victory would ensure their promotion to the national league.
The men started very well and were composed on the ball, creating a number of chances through Tim Whiteman, Ben Gowing and Tom Dunnett. Eventually the build-up play told when Will Tew delivered from the left and Tom Ridley slotted home a loose ball. The men then controlled proceedings yet found themselves at 1-1 when an opposition player appeared open at the top of the circle and narrowly slotted home with Leigh Sitch nearly averting a certain goal. Beford then had their best spell and towards the end of the half scored another, this time from a corner breakdown through a strong reverse stick strike. HT: 1-2.
The men knew they had to improve and after some honest reflections, the group came out for the second half with a much better tempo, playing the ball around with purpose and intent. Their improved displayed payed off through a smart corner routine that ended up with Dave Gilbert rifling home. With the game evenly poised Harleston now looked to kick on but unfortunately were the architects of their own downfall with some sloppy outletting which gifted Bedford their 3rd goal. Again, Harleston regained composure and levelled again through man of the match Ridley with a powerful strike into the bottom corner after good work from Simon Hipwell in the circle. With 15 minutes left, it appeared that Harleston were the more likely to push on a grab that all important victory. Harleston however weren’t at their best failed to grasp their opportunity. In the last 7 minutes Bedford were award a controversial penalty stroke that unfortunately decided the fate of the game. Harleston pushed hard but it wasn’t to be and their promotion party would have to wait another week….or would it? In the bar afterwards news came in that West Herts had failed to beat Saffron Walden meaning Harleston were promoted! A sureal way to secure promotion and somewhat of an anti-climax after the loss, but promotion all the same. The men set their sights on promotion back in July and through hard work and commitment, they achieved it. A huge thanks to all the players for their commitment throughout the season and especially to manager Kevin Ridley for his work behind the scenes over the past 2 seasons. Harleston have 3 games left in East Prem A, starting next week against Norwich City. Please come down to support the group and celebrate their success in the bar afterwards.