Harborough Town 2 v 1 Oadby Town
Tuesday 6th August 2019
The first evening game of the season saw our close neighbours, Oadby Town visit the HTFC Community Ground. With a crowd of just under 150, Oadby came to the ‘Bees’ off the back of an impressive 4-1 away victory at Sleaford, always a difficult ground to get any result, so would be buoyed by their opening game performance. The Bees of course drew 1-1 with Boston on their opening day outing, a game they feel they should have won, especially after missing a penalty.
Oadby Town, much changed and under new management from last season, came to play football which was good to see and set up for an exciting and entertaining game. The first 20 minutes were very cagey with both teams passing the ball well but with no real goal chances being created. Lamar Parkes, wide left player for Oadby, looked dangerous and with his pace and directness would put Harborough’s defence to the test all evening. A couple of runs and crosses from the winger early on created openings but the home defence, marshalled by the returning skipper, Ben Williams, dealt with his threat. The first opening came after 24 minutes when a searching pass from Joel Konteh, found Fin Gray on the left flank, whose cross was met by Aaron Preston, his shot was well saved by the Oadby keeper, tipping the ball over for a corner. Further pressure followed with the linesman’s flag coming to Oadby’s rescue when the ball fell to Barnes Gladman in the box and offside the outcome. Oadby played neat controlled football throughout the first 30 minutes, with their best chance falling to Chris Anastasia at the near post, after another good run from Parkes. It was Harborough who would take the lead though on 34 minutes when a Dan Forbes shot from the edge of the penalty box was too hot for the keeper to hold and the parried save fell to the on rushing Gladman to open his account on his returning debut for the club, 1-0 Harborough. The remainder of the half belonged to Oadby, again with neat passages of football through their midfield but ultimately with no end pass that opened up the rock solid Harborough back line.
Half time 1-0
Oadby made a change at Half time in their midfield which helped them further gain a foot hold in that area of the pitch, they were quick and tidy in their play and dominated the ball for the first 10 minutes of the second half, without creating any clear cut chances, or forcing Giles, in the Harborough goal, into making any saves of note. It would be fair to say Harborough ‘grew’ into the second half with them contributing to a good game of football with their own neat and tidy passing game starting to show through. Preston had a couple of shots, but it was a fierce drive from Gray on 67 minutes that forced the visiting keeper into making a neat stop low down to his left, with the ball going out for a corner to Harborough. From the resulting corner kick, Konteh delivered a beautiful centre and Captain Ben Williams rose above the Oadby defence to power, what seemed a second goal from 10 yards out, but somehow the ball was cleared off the line by a Harborough player! The home team were now starting to press and take the initiative to their opponents, Morris came on for Hodkinson and Gladman was replaced by Ali Ashkir, which saw Forbes pushed further upfield. Harborough were getting on top, with the visiting keeper making another couple of good stops and with Konteh’s corners causing problems for the visitors it looked as though it was only a matter of time before the 2nd goal would arrive. Williams had another good header blocked and a scramble ensued that seemed to last for minutes with Oadby eventually clearing the ball to safety. Oadby threw the dice one last time making their final substitutions and threatened again with Parkes down the left but again Giles was untested in the Harborough goal.
On 80 minutes Oadby did get an equaliser, strangely enough during Harborough’s most dominate stage of the game. It was Parkes again who was strong to keep off the advances of the Harborough defence and his cut back from the line, found Anastasia 10 yards out who calmly slotted past Giles to bring parity to the scoreline. Harborough immediately replaced Konteh for Jack Clipston in midfield and kept the pressure on Oadby. There had a feel that this game wasn’t done and that someone would get a second. Harborough kept pressing with Morris and Gray both getting on the ball and running at the Oadby defence, Ashkir was starting to impose himself in midfield and with 3 minutes left another corner was delivered with perfect accuracy into the visitors penalty box, this time by Gray, Preston from 4 yards out saw his header rebound off the bar, before Steer put the ball back into the box, which found Williams 10 yards out who controlled the ball and scored into the bottom corner, to give the Bees the lead.
Harborough saw the last few minutes out professionally and with no real danger to their goal. So, the Bees backed up Saturday’s point with a win and looked fit and hungry. It has to be said that Oadby contributed to a good game of football and they will be a difficult team to beat as the season goes on, if tonight’s performance was anything to go by. They play very neat, controlled football and have an excellent passing game. Good luck to Oadby for the remainder of the season (except when we visit them for the reverse fixture).
We move on now to Saturday and another tough game against Deeping Rangers in the FA Cup, kick off 3pm at the Harborough Town Community Football Ground, your support as always is welcome and appreciated.