EAST MEN’S LEAGUE
Harleston Magpies 4
Saffron Walden 3
Richard Larkin struck a late winner for Harleston Magpies as they edged past Saffron Walden 4-3 in a dramatic clash on Saturday.
Harleston came in to this game with a slightly depleted squad, as Sam Paterson was missing with school commitments, meaning that Iain Cumming made his long awaited return to the first team.
The game started with both teams camped in the Saffron Walden half, but a failure to convert chances cost Magpies as a fast counter-attack from the visitors led to the first goal.
The home side continued to look dangerous with the ball and scored a well-deserved equaliser through a smart short corner routine.
Matt Richardson’s delivery was skilfully deflected by Leigh Sitch towards the target, only for Thomas Ridley to poach the goal from under his nose, as he finally scored his first goal of the season.
With the momentum growing, a typically direct Simon Hipwell run saw him collect his own rebound and smash the ball home to give Magpies the lead.
The advantage was short lived, though, with Harleston losing their main centre-back Andrew Bedwell to a groin injury and Walden took advantage of confusion in the defence to convert a short corner of their own.
After the break, the visitors took the lead against the run of play, before Ridley’s trademark reverse stick hit finish levelled it up at 3-3.
Larkin was then cynically brought down and Walden were temporarily reduced to ten players.
Larkin’s influence on the game would not end there, either. Just as Magpies were beginning to lose hope, the man of the moment stepped up to the plate and pounced on a loose ball to put the hosts back in front at 4-3.
The drama was not over, though, as Magpies kept out a late corner and had to play out the last couple of minutes, before getting the result that their play deserved.
Harleston will secure a fourth place finish in the league if they win away at Bedford (5th) tomorrow (2.45pm).
n Elsewhere, Harleston Magpies Ladies were beaten 3-0 by Investec Women’s League Conference East title hopefuls Sevenoaks at the weekend.
Magpies (4th) end their season with a home clash against St Albans (5th) tomorrow (2pm).
n Harleston Magpies Ladies VII also tasted defeat at the weekend, losing 5-0 away to Norwich Dragons VII in their latest Empresa Norfolk Women’s League Division Three fixture.
Magpies (6th) will bring their Division Three campaign to a close when they travel to Loddon Ladies II (5th) tomorrow afternoon (3pm).