Match report Tuesday 12th February 2019

Harborough Town FC v Leicester Nirvana FC

The Bees edged a nine (9) goal thriller at the Harborough Town Community Football club, against Leicester Nirvana. The conditions were perfect, a slight breeze blowing, a clear night and a chill in the air, excellent ‘under the floodlight’ conditions.

Right from the start both teams were intent on playing football. Harborough started brightly and some neat interchange between Milne and Forbes, led to a first time cross from Forbes being met at the far post by Preston, whose shot skewed wide of the Nirvana goal. Harborough were dominating their opponents in the first 15 minutes with Preston again making space for himself and forcing a good save from the visitor’s keeper. Minutes later Preston again was free and with 2 players free to his right shot from the edge of the box straight at the keeper, when a pass may have been the better option. Next to break through was Tony Bartlett, who cut in from the right and again, with players free decided to shoot and again the visiting keeper held well.

The signs looked good for the home team and Nirvana could be forgiven for thinking this was going to be a tough night for them. Both Harborough wide players were attacking at will and with Callum Steer and Pete Taylor breaking up play in midfield it allowed the creative Callum Milne to dictate play.

Amazingly, Nirvana’s first attack saw them take the lead, with Harborough’s wide players upfield a cross field pass found Wilson on the right wing, who cut inside and fired a low shot across the 6 yard box which was parried by Giles in the Harborough goal, however the ball fell at the feet of Nassor who tapped home. Totally against the run of play Harborough found themselves a goal down. They didn’t panic though and kept to their game plan and were passing the ball very well and still causing Nirvana problems. Preston advanced again into the box and saw his shot well saved at the near post by Antowiak in the Nirvana goal.

Harborough levelled on 29 minutes when neat build up down the left saw Gray cross for Preston to nod home from close range. 1 soon became 2 when Milne broke clear and coolly slotted past the advancing keeper, to give Harborough a deserved lead. The Bees continued to press and continued to cause problems for the visitors back line, with Forbes and Preston, at times, unplayable. Soon Milne was in again, when a flick from Forbes found him one on one with the keeper, Milne got his shot away only to see it hit the post and rebound to safety.

Just before the break some really sloppy play by Harborough allowed the visitors to regain parity. A ‘soft’ free kick started procedures and when the ball found its way to the right wing a cross to the far post found an unmarked Nassor to easily slot home for the equaliser, with the Harborough defence already dreaming of their half time cup of tea.

Half time 2-2

Harborough’s first half performance was excellent with the team controlling the game and being brave on the ball with some neat interchanges and passes all over the pitch. The second half started in the same vain, but with Nirvana clearly told to press a bit more and work harder, something they had not done so well in the first half the game became a more even contest for the first 15 minutes. Neither team created any clear cut chances but both teams were playing good attractive football and doing the right things well.

It was Harborough who regained the lead on 63 minutes when a cross from Bartlett ricocheted off a couple of players and with Forbes rushing into the box, he coolly slotted home for his 11th goal of the season from 8 yards and Harborough led 3-2. You might be forgiven for thinking that the game may settle down, but within 6 minutes Harborough found themselves trailing 3-4!

Credit to Nirvana and some indifferent defending from the home team, first of all saw Nirvana’s Shaq Masters cut in from the left past 2 static Harborough defenders and curl a shot to the far post, Giles in the Harborough goal got his hands to the shot but could only help it into the far corner via the post. Then Nirvana some how found themselves leading when again some static defending allowed Masters to thread a ball to Nassor and the Nirvana man slotted home for his hattrick.

Harborough responded immediately with the introduction of Petranyuk and Henbury from the bench, for Taylor and Gray, closely followed by Morris for Steer. Harborough continued to threaten and Nirvana also kept playing good football and tried to cause the home team problems on the counter.

On 77 minutes, a corner from the Harborough right, found Williams at the far post who directed his header back across goal, but the home team could not get the touch required. Next the tireless Bartlett, who was marauding down the right flank all night was played in by Preston, the full backs first touch took him slightly wide and his cross shot was blocked by a Nirvana defender. With ten minutes left another play down the right side saw Preston play in Morris, but some excellent awareness from the Harborough forward (knowing he was in an offside position), he left the ball alone and Milne advanced to cross into the box, Petranyuk rushed in and under pressure from a defender and the goalkeeper just managed to get to the ball first and bravely knocked the ball into the goal 4-4, was there time for a winner from either side?

Harborough’s fitness levels were superb all night and with time running out and with both teams contributing to a fantastic game of football the home side won a corner on the right again. 87 minutes on the clock and the cross was delivered and Williams from 6 yards out headed powerfully towards the goal, the ball seemed to have crossed the line, but a Nirvana defender stuck out his arm and deliberately knocked the ball away to Morris following up, who knocked the ball into the goal. However, the referee had blown his whistle a bit too quickly and awarded the penalty, the goal would not stand. Nirvana’s Dean Master was shown a red card for his deliberate handball, as Williams stood calmly with the ball on the penalty spot. After all the drama of the red card and was it a goal or not a goal, Williams stepped up and placed the ball into the bottom corner, coolly sending the keeper the wrong way, 5-4.

With Nirvana down to 10 men and seemingly with all their energy levels sapped the final few minutes were well managed by Harborough and they deservedly held on for the victory, although it has to be said they made hard work of the game.

Next for the Bees is an away fixture on Saturday 16th February 2019 at Rugby Town who currently sit 3rd in the league. Harborough will need to be at their best, but buoyed by 3 wins in a row, they will go into the game full of confidence.