Bacup Borough 05

GREAT HARWOOD TOWN defied the odds to gain a well deserved three points against a strong Bacup Borough side at the Anchor last night. A win for the West View side would have taken them up into 6th place and they would still have had 4 games in hand on the side above them. Instead, a display of skill, courage and determination by a young Harwood side, ensured that the Robins avoided equalling a club record of seven successive defeats, which was set earlier in the season. The win was only Harwood’s 3rd of the campaign and the first since December 4th and the goal scored by substitute Williams was the first for the Robins for 333 minutes.
Borough also have their problems finding the net and their paltry total of 33 goals in 28 games is the third lowest in the First Division. Their lack of firepower was all too evident last night as Harwood keeper Bobby Harris hadn’t a worthwhile shot to save in the whole game. That was testament to a terrific defensive display by the whole Harwood side who battled for every ball and won their personal duels all over the park.
With leading scorers Eastham and Mashiter unlikely to feature again, Liam McManus currently leads the way with four goals, but he appeared at centre-back, allowing Mark Young to return at centre-forward. He played alongside Darren Rogers, who had an outstanding game, holding up the ball well and causing havoc in the visitor’s defence with his direct dribbling. Young was in fact nursing a back injury, which seemed to be giving him problems right from the outset. Chris Steele was missing due to work commitments allowing new signing Ryan Dervish to make his debut at left back and what a debut it was. Despite his lack of years and inches, he gave a truly outstanding performance, winning every tackle, and giving the ball away just once during the whole 90 minutes. On that occasion, near the end of the game, he had won the ball back within seconds. Neil Kennedy dropped to bench after being injured at the weekend, Mark Stewart taking his place alongside McManus. Recent signing Jim Thompson, magnificent in recent games, continued at right back and once again was faultless.
The game began at a frantic pace with the Robins once again showing great confidence in their own ability despite their predicament at the foot of the table. Bacup, prompted by the excellent Nicky Taylor in midfield were allowed no time to settle on the ball and all too often resorted to the long punt upfield where the Harwood defenders snuffed out any danger with consummate ease. At the other end, the Bacup defence were in similar mood and in one attack, four attempts on goal by Harwood attackers, resulted in great blocks by determined defenders. By half time, neither keeper had had a serious save to make although Young fired narrowly wide as the break approached.
The second half saw the Robins midfield supporting the attack more and Dennis Hill, Graham Price and Adie Prestige began to see more of the ball. Several corners followed more Harwood pressure and with Stewart’s long throws, Bacup were struggling to hang on. One cross saw Young jump with a defender and as the ball flicked off their heads, it grazed the far post with Felgate beaten. With about 15 minutes remaining, substitutes Williams and Kennedy came on for Young, and surprisingly Thompson, as manager Dave Sharples looked to take all three points. Williams and Rogers put the Bacup back four under tremendous pressure as the team defended from the front. With just 7 minutes remaining, the deadlock was broken, and for once it was Harwood who managed a late winner. As the ball broke in a crowded goalmouth, Williams hit a great shot on the turn which got a slight deflection and trickled into the corner leaving Felgate floundering. The Harwood players immediately mobbed the young scorer, and the handful of Harwood fans danced around the terraces in delight. Bacup tried to up the pace but the defence held out comfortably, passing the ball to feet instead of just clearing their lines to invite more pressure. The referee played around 5 minutes injury time after the trainers had been called on to the field several times during the second half but Harris was untroubled as his team mates kept their heads. The final whistle was greeted with delight by both players and fans, allowing everyone to travel home with their heads held high. The win left Harwood still 9 points adrift at the bottom although they do have 6 games in hand of the team directly above them, Formby.

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©2009 J Fenton