Gray strikes late to stretch winning streak to eight for Harleston Magpies
Harleston Magpies made it eight wins in a row in the East Men’s League Premier A, beating Saffron Walden 2-1 on Saturday.
Magpies welcomed back Dave Skinner to replace the injured Tim Whiteman, while a shortage of midfielders meant Raunaq Rai was pushed into the midfield line.
It was clear from the off that Saffron Walden relied heavily on their centre-half, with his aerials occasionally managing to catch the Harleston men off guard as their half-backs sneakily crept through their lines.
After identifying the problem, the hosts managed to set their press well and limited the opposition’s options.
After missing a number of back-post deflections, the closest coming within the first minute when David Gilbert hit the post, Magpies were bound to open the scoreline.
Some impressive work from Ollie Whiteman saw the ball roll towards goal, and Skinner made sure of its entry into the Saffron Walden net.
Gilbert was determined to score, as usual, and he effortlessly flicked the ball into the net, but this goal was disallowed and the hosts were forced to regroup and go again.
In a brief lapse of concentration, a Saffron Walden forward was found unmarked inside the Harleston D and the score became level at 1-1.
After a tactical team talk, Magpies made their way onto the pitch with another victory in mind.
Getting frustrated with poor decisions, it was clear that Harleston were desperate to score.
Finally the time came as Tom Ridley manoeuvred himself up the pitch in style and managed to find an open James Gray, who reversed it low past the goalkeeper.
With time running out, Magpies’ game scenarios kicked in and they were able to let the clock run down, with the score finishing 2-1 in their favour.
Magpies (3rd) face a stern test of their winning run when they visit St Albans, who sit second in the table, tomorrow. The two sides are locked on 25 points apiece ahead of the game.