Rampant Bees Send Visitors Newport Pagnell Packing With A Sting
A string of brilliant performances by The Bees finally saw the fruits of their labour with a strong 3-points against ON Chenecks last week. This week provided a new challenge, another team who were sitting in a similar position in the table; but this time the challengers, Newport Pagnell, had netted 12 goals in their previous 2 games and had made it to the quarter-finals of the FA Vase. But, if Harborough played as good as they have been in the past few weeks there would be little to frighten them.
The game opened fairly quietly, with both teams having their fair share of possession in a high-intensity encounter, setting the tone for the rest of the game. Harborough’s first big chance came 15 minutes in, when some calm play out the back saw Pete Taylor set Harry Henbury free down the left; Henbury dinked a ball to the back post picking out Alex Morris who unselfishly set up Dan Forbes in the middle of the box, Forbes’ route to goal was blocked so he found the surging Aaron Preston. Preston’s close ball control saw him take it round the keeper before looking for goal, but his effort was blocked off the line. Next, it was Pagnell’s turn to take a shot – and they took it. A quick counter set loose Josh Winters who pulled a driven ball back into the box, finding Dom Lawless who controlled well and venomously struck the ball into the top left corner. A Tony Bartlett long free kick almost caught Joe Pursell off guard who had to scramble to his low right after the ball travelled through all players. The resultant corner was well worked, finding Ben Williams at the back post who headed it back into the mixer finding Aaron Preston, but Preston’s effort was deflected over. It wasn’t much longer before Preston’s hard-work paid off; Henbury used his skill and pace to beat his man to the byline, before finding Preston waiting just inside the box to slot home in the far-right corner. Just 6 minutes later, The Bees had turned the game around through Preston yet again; a long Alex Morris ball glanced off the head of Ben Snusher, Preston latched onto the poor decision and fired past Pursell for his brace. Harborough deservedly went into half time with the lead, great character and team spirit meant it was possible – something really great was unfolding in front of the Harborough fans.
Much like the first half, the second half was a slow burner, but once it got going it really set the place on fire. On the 64’ minute, Harborough extended their lead through, of all people, Tony Bartlett. Preston had worked his way around the keeper once more, before pulling the ball back for Bartlett in acres of space who professionally tapped home for Harborough’s 3rd. The unlikely goal-scoring source got himself a brace soon after; Bartlett had set Josh Walsh up to fire from long-range, he did expertly but it unbearably rattled off the post. Luckily, Bartlett had followed up the effort and was there for the rebound and his 2nd tap in of the afternoon. Moments later Harborough found their 5th, and Preston earned his well-deserved hat-trick after a brilliant game. Tom Cockings, who had little to do in the second half thanks to the solid defensive unit in front of him, marshalled by Ben Williams, came up with the goods when asked as he made himself big and blocked a good chance for Pagnell.
This was probably the best game of football The Bees have played this season. Every player put a shift in, every player looked like they wanted to be playing, and every player was playing for each other. Everything The Bees have been demonstrating in parts over the season so far all came together and demonstrated their true ability in this league. This win will be a huge boost and the team will look to keep the momentum going as they their run of form away to Boston next weekend.