Harleston Magpies beat Cambridge Uni 4-3 to edge closer to promotion from East Men's League Premier A
Harleston Magpies edged closer to promotion from East Men’s League Premier A after coming from behind to win 4-3 at Cambridge Uni on Saturday.
The reverse fixture between the two promotion rivals had seen Magpies in control and win the game using a half-court press. And it was clear from the get-go that the scholars had prepared for the same.
A quick tempo from the home side allowed them to dominate the early exchanges, and they were rewarded with the lead when a crash ball lopped off Ollie Whiteman’s stick, gifting an opposition forward a volleyed tap-in past the stranded Chris Leek.
Despite further control of possession by Cambridge, a moment of excellent individual work down the left resulted in Jack Hobbs entering the circle and unleashing his trusted backhand to pull Magpies level.
Following the equaliser, the game settled down and Magpies’ disciplined formation stifled the young light blues for long periods.
Unfortunately, it was a controversial moment that led to the hosts regaining the advantage.
Pete Bale was robbed illegally in midfield, but despite strong appeals, Cambridge were allowed to advance and, after a melee in the circle, the ball fell to a home shirt who dispatched it into the corner.
Harleston stepped up their game, with coach Tim Whiteman and Tom Ridley leading from the front.
It was the latter who quickly pulled Magpies level for the second time, exploiting hesitancy from the youthful defence to drive into the right side of the D and smash home a crisp strike.
In the second half, new
father Dave Skinner received a green card to reduce the visitors to 10, but despite being a man down Magpies struck next, Dave Gilbert rolling the ball home to give them the lead for the first time.
Cambridge soon lost a man themselves and, within minutes, Harleston were at it again, with Tim Whiteman bamboozling four defenders before drawing a foul.
Ridley stepped over the ball, carried hard and crossed for the team’s other poacher, James Gray, who made no mistake to give
Magpies a 4-2 lead.
Cambridge pulled one back from a short corner, but Magpies soaked up the pressure, surviving two more short corners, with Leek pushing the ball round the post for one of them.
Gilbert and Hobbs were shown green cards in the
final 10 minutes, but Magpies ran down the clock to gain another important victory.
With only five games left to play, Harleston (2nd) will continue their promotion push by hosting ninth-placed Cambridge City II tomorrow (3pm).