SLAUGHTER at the Butcher’s Arms ground! That’s what befell Harwood as they crashed to a disastrous defeat after conceding only 12 goals in their previous 17 league games.

Harwood, leaders of the North West Counties League Second Division, were thoroughly outgunned by fourth-from-bottom Droylsden, although Town manager Malcolm Darling didn’t feel that the Manchester outfit played as well as they did when they lost 3-0 at the Showground four weeks earlier.

“Practically every time Droylsden went forward, they scored,” said Mr. Darling, “They got behind our defence and outran us. We continued to make chances but couldn’t put any away and it ended up a disaster for us, although I honestly think that Droylsden played better at the Showground when we won 3-0.”

What really killed off Harwood’s chances of further extending their impressive run of results in recent games was a spell of three goals in three minutes early in the first half by the home side, who have now scored 13 goals in three games in all competitions after previously scoring only that number all season.

After 13 minutes, Droylsden were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the 18-yard box after a handling offence outside his area by Harwood ’keeper Dave Mottershead.

The Harwood ‘keeper stopped the initial effort but couldn’t hold it and Steve Wright hit the rebound home. Two minutes later Andy Dibley made it 2-0 and a minute after that Shaun Rodgers hit the first of his three goals in the match to make it 3-0.

Droylsden made it 4-0 through Rodgers two minutes before the interval, the same player completed his hat-trick with his side’s fifth goal nine minutes into the second half and Mike Bartholomew completed the scoring on the hour.

It was Harwood’s heaviest defeat since they lost 7-0 at home to Warrington last season and came in stark contrast to their form so far this term, with the back four so dominant and secure in previous games.

Their last league defeat was away to chief promotion rivals Kirkby Town way back on September 7 th and the Droylsden debacle was in fact only their third league defeat of the season.

Mr. Darling just hopes that Saturday’s disastrous defeat was the kind of performance that every side turns in once a season and is now out of Town’s system.

Mr. Darling admitted that the bad defensive show Harwood gave at the Butcher’s Arms on Saturday had been coming for some weeks.

“We have been showing signs of being a little bit too cocky in recent games and on Saturday it rebounded on us disastrously,” said the Harwood manager.

“Perhaps too many players were looking ahead to the Kirkby game and not concentrating on the job in hand against Droylsden. We created chances but couldn’t make any count and that three goals in three minutes spell really killed off our chances of taking tangible reward from the game. There was no snow on the pitch, although it was heavy, so we couldn’t blame the surface. On the day, the whole 11 players were terrible and I just hope that it was a one-off and is now out of our systems. Everyone just make such uncharacteristic mistakes. For instance, their third goal was a header from the edge of the 18-yard box, which Mottershead failed to hold. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, he would probably have held that, but, like everyone else, Dave had an off day too. It just wasn’t out day.”

Harwood were forced to make changes to the back four, who had served them throughout their last few matches, as Shaun Astin was out with a gashed knee suffered in Sunday League football six days earlier.

Into the side for his debut came new signing Nick Jones, brother of central defender Mark, like his brother a member of the same league cup winning side at Darwen in 1983 as Mr. Darling and his assistant Harold Martin.

Also starting a match for Harwood for the first time was another member of that successful Darwen side of 1983, striker Paul Goldsborough, while Eric Geldard returned to the side after a month’s suspension for being sent off at Kirkby in September.

On the day, though, the Harwood front men were left in the shade by the finishing power of the Droylsden side. When the Manchester outfit came to the Showground on November 2 nd, their 3-0 reverse was the sixth defeat they had suffered in succession.

That 3-0 defeat at Harwood left the Butcher’s Arms side with a dismal goals record of 21 against and just one for, but now they have scored 13 in three matches in all competitions.

It is an impressive recovery by a side who last term were one of Harwood’s main rivals for promotion but only in their wildest dreams could they have hoped to pull off anything like the shock defeat they sent Town crashing to on Saturday.

Harwood’s line-up: Mottershead, Vercoe, M Jones, Martin (sub Procter 60 mins), N Jones, Blackburn, Burton, Moran, Benko, Geldard, Goldsborough.


Great Harwood Town 3 Droylsden 0



GREAT HARWOOD TOWN turned on the style to secure a convincing victory over lowly Droylsden and stay level on points at the top of the North West Counties Second Division.
A goal in each half from striker Leroy Allen, who was in devastating form, and a successful effort just a couple of minutes before the interval by Steve Benko clinched maximum points for Harwood, who are now second in the table on goal difference behind Kirkby Town, 5-0 conquerors on Saturday of Wren Rovers, the third team level on points before the weekend’s games.
Harwood were always in command against a Droylsden side which has now lost six matches in a row from the moment Allen broke the deadlock 12 minutes before half-time.
Benko added the second 10 minutes later and the visitors never had a chance to settle before Allen displayed some tremendous finishing four minutes into the second half to kill off any hopes the Manchester side might have had of taking anything from the game.
Droylsden’s best two chances of the match came either side of Harwood’s second goal with Jeff Pomfret, standing in, in the Harwood goal in place of the injured Dave Mottershead, pulling off a couple of great saves.
The first came in the 42nd minute, a minute before Benko’s goal, as Shaun Rodgers, Droylsden’s most dangerous player, unleashed a blistering shot from 20 yards, which Pomfret saved well.
Two minutes later, a minute after Town’s second goal, Pomfret pulled off an acrobatic save, tipping the ball round the post, as an 18-yard shot by Alan Armstrong headed for the top right corner of the net.
After a somewhat untidy start to the game, with defences in command for the first 20 minutes, it was certainly an action-packed end to the first half and Harwood quickly added to their lead when the match resumed after the break.
Four minutes into the second half, Allen found himself clear some 25 yards from goal, took the ball into the penalty area and picked his spot before unleashing a blistering shot which gave Droylsden ‘keeper Mike Cammack no chance.
Allen had had the first chance of the match after 20 minutes when his header from a right wing cross by Simon Vercoe was saved by Cammack but 13 minutes later, he made no mistake as he slammed the ball into the right hand corner of the net from the left-hand post.
Benko’s goal 10 minutes later came from a similar angle and when Allen hit their third so soon after the break, Droylsden, third from bottom of the league this term following a change of manager and wholesale team changes after being among the promotion contenders last term never stood a realistic chance of earning any tangible reward from the game.
But all credit to them for the spirit they displayed in the latter stages of the match. They never gave up trying and in fact had a couple of worthy chances.
The first came in the 64th minute when that man Rodgers was left clear in front of goal by a long clearance kick by Cammack-a tactic the visitors employed frequently in the second half-but Pomfret came out and bravely grabbed the ball before Rodgers had a chance to get in a shot.
Then, seven minutes from time, Harwood skipper Brian Moran was forced to clear off the line with Pomfret beaten from a shot by Andy Dibley, while the final kick of the match saw Droylsden have the ball in the net from a shot by David Lake, but the effort was disallowed for an infringement.
As for Harwood, their best chances of adding to their lead fell to Mark Bennett after 54 minutes when he found himself in a good position from 12 yards but his weak attempt was easily collected by Cammack, and to Moran in the 73rd minute when he shot wide after good work by Shaun Astin.
After the match, Harwood manager Malcolm Darling was obviously delighted with the result but admitted that Harwood could have punished their opponents more.
But he said he was pleased with his side’s blend, particularly that now that Nigel Burton was back in the side after a spell at Darwen.
“Nigel wasn’t 100% fit but I saw plenty of the creative touches in midfield that we brought him back to the club to provide,” said Mr. Darling.

Great Harwood Town: Pomfret, Vercoe (sub: O’Brien 79 mins.), Astin, Martin, Jones, Blackburn, Moran, Burton, Allen, Benko, Bennett.
Referee: K. Porter (Bolton)

APRIL 6th 1985

Fifth home defeat in a row for “hari kari” Harwood


GREAT HARWOOD TOWN committed something akin to soccer suicide as they surrendered a half-time lead to go down in very disappointing fashion to their fifth home defeat in a row.
Four of those defeats have come in the league at the hands of fellow contenders for promotion from the North West counties Second Division – with Harwood conceding a total of 16 goals – and have effectively killed off the Showground side’s hopes of playing in the First Division next term. Two weeks before the Droylsden clash, Harwood went down to a crushing 7-0 home defeat at the hands of Warrington town but then regained some of their confidence with a derby win at Rossendale.
But after playing some impressive football in the early stages of Saturday’s clash and taking the lead after 11 minutes through Phil Greenhalgh, Harwood’s defence went completely to pieces, conceding three goals in 11 minutes and ended up going down to a defeat which town boss Rick Grogan ranked as “much worse” than the drubbing at the hands of Warrington.
“Warrington gave a great performance on the day and fully deserved their win,” said Mr. Grogan, “Droylsden weren’t a good side and yet we went to pieces against them at the back.”
Admittedly Harwood were badly hit by injuries and had the disadvantage of key central defender Harold Martin being out of contention because of suspension for three bookings which also rules him out of Saturday’s clash with Darwen.
Mick Marren, Stuart Lally, John Bowman and Kevin Dobson were all missing from the side because of injury, but Harwood had the boost of talented midfielder Nigel Burton returning to the side, while Brian Foy switched from the middle of the park to defence to fill in for Martin.
And in the initial stages of the match against a Droylsden side which included former Accrington Stanley striker Errol Williams, it looked as though Harwood might bring to an end their run of terrible home results and clinch the double over a team they beat 2-1 earlier in the season.
After 11 minutes, they got the ideal boost when Greenhalgh put them ahead. Eastwood floated over a corner from the left, Brian Moran headed the ball back into the goalmouth from the far post and in the goalmouth tangle that followed, Greenhalgh forced the ball home.
For the rest of the first half, Harwood dominated and Droylsden struggled to get a look in. In fact, the best chance the visitors had of getting on the score sheet in the first half didn’t come until two minutes before the interval when a shot from Dave Risby forced Harwood keeper Harry Stephenson to tip the ball over the bar in spectacular style.
But even that near thing certainly doesn’t give any indication of the dramatic change in fortunes to come in the early stages of the second half.
It all started four minutes after the break when Droylsden were awarded a free kick just outside the 18 yard box for a foul.
Dougie Neah, playing his first game for Droylsden since early October, blasted the ball into the bottom right hand corner of the net to equalise for the visitors and seven minutes later, he put them into the lead when he headed home a right wing cross by Risby.
Harwood were utterly at sixes and sevens and the goal barrage continued four minutes later when Errol Williams, who was in the Stanley side beaten by Droylsden on penalties in a League Cup replay early last month, slotted the ball home from point blank range to put the visitors 3-1 up.
And it didn’t stop there. After Harwood defender Alan Procter had gone off with a knock to be replaced by substitute Phil Mooney – brother of Stanley defender Dave – Droylsden went 4-1 up when Risby scored a spectacular effort, hitting the ball directly into the net from the right wing, with Steve Wright waiting by the far post in case he had needed to turn the ball home.
Harwood, looking shell shocked after that devastating goal spree by Droylsden, had their best chances of getting on the scoresheet again after the visitors had scored their fourth.
In the 77th minute, Burton, who had a generally quiet game, had a great shot from an Eastwood corner blocked and then four minutes from time, five minutes after Droylsden player-manager Kevin Tully had come on for Williams, Roger Walker headed just wide of the Droylsden goal from a cross by Simon Vercoe


Stephenson, Vercoe, Clayton, Foy, Procter (sub. Mooney 66 mins.), Moran, Burton, Nugent, Walker, Greenhalgh, Eastwood.

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