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Harleston Town defeated in Norfolk Senior Cup quarter-finals by Wroxham

There was to be no upset at Wilderness Lane this afternoon as Harleston Town suffered a 3-1 defeat at the hands of higher-league Wroxham in the Norfolk Senior Cup quarter-finals.

The opening 44 minutes could not have gone much better for Harleston, who after taking an early lead were well organised and limited their opposition from two divisions above to very little in the way of clear chances.

And yet, two moments of slack defending in the closing stages of the half left them with plenty to do.

Harleston captain Nathan Russell
Harleston captain Nathan Russell

The hosts edged themselves in front in the 13th minute when centre-back Jake Anema shook off his marker to head home Scott Roberts’ inswinging corner from the left.

In truth, clear cut openings were at a premium for a while after, although Harleston went very close in the 34th minute. Wroxham goalkeeper Ollie Sutton - son of former Premier League winner Chris - could only push Roberts’ powerful free-kick back into his six yard box, but the home team could not force the ball in during the resulting scramble.

Slowly but surely Wroxham were starting to dominate in terms of the possession, yet they rarely troubled Ross Bilham in the Harleston goal.

However, that all changed in the 45th minute as a simple ball over the top caught out the Harleston defence, leaving Harley Black to square for Charles Clarke to score from a couple of yards out.

And a nightmare end to the half for Nathan Stone and Nicky Howell’s men continued in the third minute of stoppage time.

Sutton raced off his line to collect Roberts’ floated delivery and he immediately cleared down-field. Clarke beat Charlie Roe to the ball and then sped away from Mark Shadrack before showing good composure to beat Bilham in a one-on-one situation.

Harleston's trend of being their own worst enemy continued just four minutes after the restart when Lloyd Greening under-hit his back pass. Wroxham winger Ryan Oakley nipped in, only for Bilham to bring him down inside the box.

This time, though, the Hadley & Ottaway Anglian Combination Premier Division outfit were bailed out by their goalkeeper, who having given away the spot kick, dived to his left to prevent Clarke from wrapping up his hat-trick.

As the half wore on, Harleston went close with a couple of free-kicks from Roberts – both of which were palmed to safety by Sutton – while a last-ditch challenge from Wroxham's Mac Gee stopped what looked like a certain Spencer Cawcutt goal.

Then, with just five minutes remaining and Harleston committing more players forward, a third and tie-clinching Wroxham goal arrived.

The Harleston bench were adamant substitute Shaun Taylor was offside as he latched on to Black's through ball, but the referee's assistant disagreed and he calmly rounded Bilham to rubber stamp his team's place in the last four.

Harleston: Bilham, Roe (Goulding 82'), Greening, Ebbage, Anema, Shadrack, Russell (Hayden 90'), Borrer, Cawcutt, Roberts, Page

Express Man of the Match – Scott Roberts: He was involved in most of Harleston's best moves and set up their goal.

* For reaction from Harleston boss Howell, see next Friday's Express print edition.

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