This wasn't how it would have happened in Hollywood.
A disappointing second half saw Spencer well beaten in Leicestershire in their final game.
CHROMASPORT & TROPHIES UNITED COUNTIES LEAGUE-PREMIER DIVISION
HARBOROUGH TOWN (1) 4
Crawford 65, 76
NORTHAMPTON SPENCER (0) 0
Ben Stone led his charges into battle for the very last time at Harborough Town’s tidy Bowden Park and was forced into a few changes from the side that won so impressively at Eynesbury seven days ago. Stuart Lutter was unavailable, but thankfully Aaron Lee had recovered from the injury that kept him out last week, Liam Tuck had opted to go camping rather than play in Spencer’s last game, so Jacob Gartland slotted in a left back with Josh Melling returning on the opposite side of the back four. Paul Pickering and Ryan Ansell were replaced on the bench by Mason Childs and Michael Parkes.
It has to be said that this was one of the most uneventful openings to a game since I started reporting on the Millers and with almost ten minutes on the watch, I hadn’t made a single note. When the ball finally got into one of the boxes, a cross from the lively, yet very annoying Harry May, Alex Lowery got up well to head clear. Lowery was then getting things going at the other end as he tried to play Ryan Dove in with a through ball, but the Spencer man had drifted offside. Dove and Munya Matiyenga were both involved in a move that saw Luke Stone play a cracking ball through for the over-lapping Gartland, but his decent low cross was cut out. Stone then played a lobbed ball out wide for Gartland and although he didn’t manage to get this over, he did win a corner that May disputed. Stone’s corner was a beauty and Ryan Dove got his head to it as the keeper clutched at thin air, but it hit a defender just in front of him and Harborough cleared. Jake Burrows flattened Matiyenga as they both went up for a header and the referee deemed this the first warning of the match as May arrived from nowhere to complain about it. Stone played the free kick into the box where Dove got up well to flick, but Ben Williams read it well and came across to clear.
Harry May received the ball in space inside the Spencer half and cut inside Gartland before laying it across the box to Jordan Crawford in a great position, but Alex Lowery did just enough to make it difficult for the Harborough man and he pulled his shot wide. May was a constant menace to Spencer and Gartland did really well as he disposed him in another good position. We had the first booking on 16 minutes as Matt Long sped past Williams, but the Harborough skipper brought him down for a clear yellow card, although May obviously hotly disputed this to the referee! Gartland again made a good interception and then the ensuing tackle before finding Long wide right, who took it and cut inside before firing in a powerful shot that was blocked by a defender’s legs. A good defensive header from Josh Melling gave Aaron Lee a rare touch, but the keeper’s next contribution was to pick the ball out of the net after 23 mins. May played a good ball in to Barnes Gladman who flicked it into the path of Alex McMillan to run through. He took it wide of Lee and rolled his shot home from eight yards to give Harborough the lead pretty much against the run of play. McMillan was then in action in his own box as a great ball from Gartland sent Matiyenga through, but the Harborough goal hero cut the ball out well.
A deep corner from May was headed goalwards by Ryan Watkin, but Lee held on comfortably, then the keeper took a Gladman cross confidently as the hosts came to life spurred on by their goal. A good run and through ball from Crawford saw Danny Wright caught offside, then Spencer threatened as Gartland’s throw found Dove in the box, but the ball just wouldn’t come down for him. Stone then delivered another good corner that Dove rose to head goalwards and Matty Long tried to guide a deft header from right in front of the keeper, but could only put it wide. Spencer really should have been level as Gartland played the ball over the defence for Long to run onto. The keeper raced off his line but Long easily beat him to the ball, although he lifted it over Glen Giles, it fell wide of the post. No doubt that Matty would have put that away a few weeks ago. Although Long was clearly onside, Callum Milne took his argument to the linesman and became the second player to be booked in the process. Ryan Dove then crossed into the box where Séan McBride leapt with his boot high and caught the rather taller Watkin in the face at the same time. Matiyenga then fed Long who found Luke Bartley on the edge of the six-yard box, but unlike last week, he fired his effort over the bar. The home side were forced into a change just before the break, assumedly for injury, with skipper Ben Williams being replaced by Joel Konteh.
Half time Harborough Town 1 Spencer 0, but in truth we probably should have gone into the break in the lead with the chances we created.
Spencer started the second half on the attack, but were dealt a massive blow as Harborough caught them on the break three minutes in as Barnes Gladman was allowed way too much time to run into the box and finish coolly past Lee. Well taken goal but disappointing from a defensive outlook. Aaron Lee then had to play sweeper as he came out to head away from Crawford who was chasing a big ball over the top.
Josh Melling caused a few problems in the other box with his cross, but again we had no finish and eventually McBride gave away a free kick with a late challenge. In truth though, Harborough were now cutting us apart at times with the ball over the top and their pacey duo of Crawford and May, with the former getting clear again on the left but rolling his shot across the face of the goal and wide of the far post. McMillan was the next to get clear, but he scooped his shot high and wide. Konteh then broke through the middle and ran from halfway to just outside the box where he hit a decent shot that drifted just wide the post. Harborough were well on top now with the emotion of the occasion probably playing on the minds of a lot of the Spencer players today and it was becoming reminiscent of a certain Tuesday night in Newport Pagnell.
Luke Bartley tried to get things going with a run at the defence that saw him find Long out wide, He sent in a low cross, but again it was cut out before it could find a green shirt. Spencer then made their first swap with Matiyenga making way for Jack Bartley but it was soon the home side threatening. A simple ball from Gladman sent Crawford free inside the box on the left. Lee came out to narrow the angle and the Harborough man rolled his shot wide of the far post. The let-off didn’t last long though and 65 mins it was 3-0 and I guess game over. Jordan Crawford netting the goal of the game with a beauty from outside the box into the far top corner to make up for his earlier misses from easier positions. Jake Burrows saw yellow for bringing down Luke Bartley as the big man ran through the middle, May obviously argued about it though. Crawford again got into the box, but this time a good tackle from Lowery stopped him getting his shot away before Spencer took off Dove to give Ashley Clamp the last eighteen minutes. Harborough’s Alex McMillan became the fourth home player to be booked he brought down Jack Bartley, I assume May ran to the ref, but I’d lost interest by now. Spencer had a mini revival with Stone playing in a good free kick towards Luke Bartley, then a Gartland throw was steered at goal by Lowery, but didn’t have the power to worry Glen Giles. Normal service resumed immediately though as Crawford squeezed the ball home from a tight angle on the left with the ball going in off the far post for his second and Harborough’s fourth on 76 minutes and now it was definitely the ending to eighty year’s history we didn’t want.
Ben Stone then took off Luke Bartley and brought on Mason Childs for his last outing for The Millers, then Stone sent over another good corner that the keeper pushed out, but only as far as Clamp, but he summed the day up as he fired his first time shot over the top from eight yards. Lee got down well to deny Crawford a hat-trick, while Jack Bartley wasn’t too far away from getting a vital touch on to Long’s low ball into him. Gladman went close at the other end but could only find the side netting with his close range effort then as time ticked away on Northampton Spencer Football Club, Luke Stone played in a free kick that was flicked off of Matty Long’s head and it was all over.
A feeling of emptiness seemed to fill the ground as Spencer’s players huddled in the centre of the park for the last ever time. We have been the town’s second club for so many years, even during the brief spell back in Division One and now it is no more. It isn’t just a football club who play in the UCL, it is a part of the town and should be a part of the community. Maybe someone will realise that and the name can live on, it doesn’t seem likely though. I would be more than happy to do my bit to help if someone does step in at the last minute as this really has been a fantastic season.
Luke Stone gets my man of the match today but it is a day that will stay in the memory for all the wrong reasons. We ended up in thirteenth, perhaps should have been higher but I’m sure we would have took that at the start of the season though.
So ends my last match report for Northampton Spencer and I’ve loved every minute of it and just wish I was going to be doing it again next season. I’ll do a season review over the next few weeks and give my opinions where I can. I would also like the views of some of you who have played a part this season, whether managing, playing, off the field or just watching and will leave this website on line for anyone to look back at in the future.
Just hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have doing it.
Yours in Sport,