MEN’S CONFERENCE EAST
Harleston Magpies 4
Harleston Magpies let a 4-0 lead slip as they suffered an 8-4 defeat at Oxted to extend their winless start to the new season on Sunday.
Magpies made the long trip to Oxted at the weekend looking to make amends after last week’s 4-0 home defeat to Brighton and Hove, but were without the services of Andy Hipwell and Archie Winter.
After a cagey opening 15 minutes, some neat play up the left hand flank saw Harleston win a corner, which was rifled in by Sam Rowe who was the first man to the rebound.
Rowe was on the scoresheet again soon after, as a well-defended Oxted attack gave Magpies the chance to counter attack.
Toby Price paced past the home defence and found Rowe in the circle unmarked, who dispatched the ball past the flailing Oxted keeper.
Price then scored himself to give Harleston a 3-0 lead, and after they had a number of penalty corners which they failed to convert, the visitors went into the break 3-0 up.
Magpies started the second-half a little tentatively, but went further extended their lead when Ben Wright converted a penalty stroke.
Midfield dynamo Matt Riches passed a last minute half-time fitness test, but only managed a handful of minutes before picking up a yellow card, giving Oxted a numerical advantage.
The hosts made the most of it as Harleston struggled to deal with their aggressive pressing game, and Oxted pulled a goal back through open play.
Harleston were back up to a full compliment of players for a matter of seconds before Wright decided to interfere with a quick free hit which he felt was taken in the wrong place to leave the visitors a man down again.
Oxted used the numerical advantage to get back into the game and scored two goals in quick succession to reduce Harleston’s lead to just one.
The latter coming following Leigh Sitch staying down after being struck with the ball in the face but play was allowed to continue.
With 15 minutes on the clock, Magpies still felt they had a chance to win the game, which was soon no more as Andrew Bedwell decided to knock the ball away which saw him receive a yellow card.
Oxted scored five more in the last 10 minutes of play to go 8-4 in front, despite Harleston having their own chances.
The final play of the game saw Price carry the ball down the right side, and after the full-time whistle was blown, powerfully hit Wright in the elbow, which summed up the game for the visitors.
It was a tale of two halves for Harleston who will look to take the first-half performance into their trip to Teddington on Sunday (12.30pm).