THE final game of Royalist’s campaign saw them beat champions-elect Humberstone 5-3 away with arguably their best performance of an enigmatic season.
It was a game where neither team, for a long time, could get a foothold.
The home side scored first against the run of play, only for the Harborough-based Royals to hit back through Andy Hiron.
As the game wore on Humberstone came more into it and took the lead after springing a tight off-side trap, but the never-say-die attitude displayed intermittently by the visiting players came into life in the second half.
A solid quartet of Deacon, Taylor, Gladstone and Aldwinckle at the back ensured the confidence flooded back into the side.
Improved performances from Stuart Cooke and Matt Mossman made sure of plenty of wing play, with the latter unlucky as his shot cannoned off the bar, but the effort was still rewarded as Dean Barnett was present to lash in the loose ball.
Ian White and Paul Finch worked hard to break down any Humberstone attacks and, playing as Royalist did, it was hard to figure out why it can’t be achieved every week.
The away side made it 4-3 with Hiron completing a hat-trick to finish on 29 goals for the season.
Fine goalkeeping from Richard Lenny helped retain that lead and striker Dean Barnett grabbed his second goal of the game and his 12th of a productive season to ensure maximum points for the visitors.
Strangely it could have been more. Even substitutes James Sneath and Omar Masters had a positive impact and a mazy run to the byline by the latter presented Sneath with what sould have been a simple tap-in – only to blaze over from six yards.
Corby Khalsa 2 Medbourne 3
MEDBOURNE ended their season on a high after a five-goal thriller in this evening game.
Goals from Adam Stanton and John Porter (two) settled the match.
It has been a hard season for the villagers, with Dave Downing taking on the job of manager and having a mammoth task rebuilding the team after several players moved to Harborough Town and one to Welford, and others absent due to injury and work commitments.
Downing has had to rebuild the squad with his remaining loyal players plus several new youngsters, and they have come up against some strong opposition.
Medbourne may have to drop down a division next season but a determined Downing vowed they would fight back, spurred by “a great group of lads and their loyal supporters”.
Irchester Utd Res 1 Harborough Town Res 1
ALREADY-PROMOTED Harborough reserves were slow to start this meaningless end-of-season game.
Irchester doninated the first half-hour, without creating many clearcut openings, but it was still no surprise when they took the lead on 30 minutes with a good finish and fine work on the right wing.
However Harborough hit back and began to dominate the midfield, with Brent Steed in particular starting to run the show with his drive and energy inspiring his team-mates. A good move started by Paul Lewis brought in Rob Goodman and then Baz Panter, who did everything right except score
Town went even closer after fine work from John Enumah on the left, and Goodman saw a header loop just over.
Just when Harborough thought they were getting on top, the referee awarded Irchester a controversial penalty. After Glen Giles had saved a point-blank shot, the onrushing striker fell over the outstretched body of Giles and the official pointed to the spot. This created pandemonium as Harborough couldn’t believe the decision, but Giles dusted himself down and threw himself to his right to claw away the powerfully struck spot-kick. But such is Giles’ record with penalties, this came as no surprise to his colleagues.
The second half continued in the same fashion with Harborough having the lion’s share of possession, but Irchester were very disciplined and got bodies behind the ball at every opponent.
Harborough were still able to create chances but they were being spurned, with Panter again going close, and sub Tom King just off target after fine work on the left. Another sub, Barnes Gladman used his pace to create himself a half-chance but he wasn’t able to properly connect with the shot.
Just when Harborough were beginning to lose hope, they equalised on 86 minutes, and after all their fine play, it was from a set piece that they scored. A perfect inswinging corner from skipper Glenn Robinson was flicked goalwards by King, and sub Ross Braham was on hand to firmly nod past the helpless keeper for a deserved equaliser.
Irchester would have been disappointed at the lateness of the goal, considering how well they had defended, but no-one could have begrudged Harborough their breakthrough.
Despite a solid team display by all 14 players on show, star performers for Harborough were Robinson, Giles, Steed and the mercurial Tom Hillier.
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Weather for Market Harborough
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 6 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: North west