Hadley Wood & Wingate 1 - 2 Harpenden Town
By Nikhil Saglani
Hadley Wood & Wingate were cruelly denied a point in a well contested battle with Harpenden Town at Summers Lane. The visitors, who sat in second place in the league, were in a rich vein of form but the hosts more than matched the league’s high-flyers.
Despite having not kicked a ball in over a month, the Blues got off to the better start, with Nicholas Kouroushi firing wide from the edge of the area, before the visitors saw a chance headed just wide from a free-kick.
On 16 minutes, the hosts found themselves ahead via a fine goal. Kouroushi played a one-two with Muyiwe Osenie and rifled an effort into the bottom corner, well out of the reach of the stranded Harpenden goalkeeper.
Osenie nearly doubled the lead soon after, rounding the keeper – but was prevented by a last-ditch sliding challenge. Four minutes later, Vass Mandeville nearly entered himself into the ‘goal of the season’ contest. Taking aim from 35 yards out, on the half volley, his sweet shot was tipped onto the post before Kouroushi volleyed the rebound inches wide.
Ross Weinrabe, in the Blues’ goal, was called into action to make a couple of routine saves – as the hosts continued to dominate the game. Alex Hadjithemistou and Mandeville worked together to keep Harpenden from getting a shot on goal, with the latter making a brave last ditch sliding challenge, whilst Hadjithemistou made a double block.
However, after half time, the visitors leveled courtesy of a well struck shot from the edge of the area – finding its way through a crowded box and into the bottom corner.
Osenie and Figuiera both saw attempts fly over the bar, before Mandeville made a crucial block on the line to prevent a Harpenden winner.
In the 90th minute, Osenie had a goal ruled out for offside, before heartbreak struck. A flurry of activity in the box saw Harpenden scramble home a 93rd minute winner and, despite the Blues’ incredible efforts, the visitors left with all three points.
However, Frankie Webb’s side can take much credit from the performance. The average age of the starting XI was a mere 19.09 years, whilst the back four consisted of three under 18 players and an under 16 player – showing that the future certainly can be bright for the Blues.
Weinrabe, Mandeville, Agholor (Lima, 90), Sharpe (c), Cazaubon, Mead, Casey (Lyttle, 70), Hadjithemistou, Osenie, Figueira, Kouroushi.
Unused: R. Webb