Accrington Stanley 1 Great Harwood Town 1
(Accrington Stanley won 7-6 on penalties)
Mashy’s late strike can’t stop Stanley
COURTESY OF OUR VERY GOOD FRIENDS AT THE LANCASHIRE EVENING TELEGRAPH
Paul Mashiter surprised his own manager when he bounced back from the treatment room to fire a deserved equaliser for his Great Harwood underdogs.
The Town striker was feared to have suffered a broken foot following a clash in last week’s friendly against Rossendale United. An x-ray later revealed he had only sustained severe bruising but was still expected to be sidelined for around a month. However Mashiter needed only a months rest before he was back in action against neighbours Accrington Stanley as the two sides went head to head at the Interlink Stadium to battle it out for the V.M.I. Trophy.
His last minute goal was deserved for a gutsy performance against Conference new boys Stanley, but not enough to prevent John Coleman’s side from retaining the trophy in a penalty shoot-out.
Nevertheless, Great Harwood manager John Hughes was proud of his young team’s display.
“I was pleased with the performance,” he said.
“These games aren’t about winning-they’re about getting in shape and playing football. We’ve got a young team and I was pleased with them. They held their own and that’s what I want.” And he paid tribute to goalscorer Mashiter.
“I was surprised he was playing after the injury he picked up last week. He said he was all right yesterday and wanted to play, but I told him just to have a run out and see how he felt, and he did alright.”
Stanley fielded a side made up of first teamers and fringe players and even Great Harwood’s number one goalkeeper Bobby Harris as they stepped up their search for cover for their own number one Jamie Speare. And they dominated the bulk of the game although Town put together some neat, attractive passages of play and, without testing their own goalkeeper, would have given Hughes much hope for their forthcoming North West Counties Division Two campaign.
Harwood seemed to have unearthed a gem in number two goalkeeper Paul Snape, for the 18 year-old who missed around a year of his apprenticeship with Bolton Wanderers after suffering a broken leg, made a string of superb saves to keep the home side out. However there was nothing he could do about Steve Flitcroft’s powerful volley which soared past his outstretched right hand six minutes before the break after Steve Smith’s initial shot had been charged down. Snape was again kept busy in the second half, with his save of the match arriving on 67 minutes. Connell’s dipping 22 yard effort looked destined to beat the teenager, but Snape stretched enough to tip the ball onto the bar then gathered up the rebound. Time was running out when Mashiter raced onto a long punt upfield and slid the ball under Harris from inside the area to equalise. Both teams converted their first six penalties, Derbyshire, Heslop, Parr, O’Reily, Mashiter and Wagstaff scoring for Town. Mullen then fired in the seventh but Town substitute Dave Anwar skied the ball over the bar to ensure the V.M.I. Trophy stays at the Interlink Stadium for another season.