Eventful finale but a baa-d night in the end
BY TONY DURKIN
GREAT HARWOOD TOWN 1 KIRKBY TOWN 3
HARWOOD went down to defeat at the hand s of North West Counties Second Division champions Kirkby for the third time in a single season in an incident-packed final match.
One player from each side was sent off, three men were booked, there was a missed penalty by Kirkby, a total of four goals, and a sheep on the pitch for a brief period, as the Merseysiders-who received their championship trophy before the match-made it three out of three against Harwood, following their league victory at their own ground and a 2-0 win at the Showground in the league cup.
The players who got their marching orders were Kirkby’s Paul Orr, sent off in the 31 st minute for a ferocious tackle on Harwood defender Mick Miller, and Harwood’s Eric Geldard, who was dismissed for swearing and slinging mud at a linesman after being ruled offside, five minutes before half-time.
Geldard in fact had two glorious opportunties to put Harwood ahead in the early stages of the game, the first after just 47 seconds when he brought a great save from Kirkby ‘keeper McKuhen.
Harwood in fact had the ball in the net after 20 minutes when Mark Bennett broke clear, wasn’t given offside, passed to Paul A Brown who put the ball over the line, but the effort was disallowed for offside.
The action continued six minutes later as Kirkby twice hit the bar in the space of a few seconds but eight minutes later, three minutes after Orr’s dismissal, the vistors took the lead when Jimmy Horrocks steered the ball over the line.
Three minutes after that, Geldard had the second of his excellent scoring chances as he was left with only McKuhen to beat but shot tamely at the Kirkby ‘keeper.
Just a couple of minutes later, however, Geldard’s contribution to the game came to an untimely end as he was sent off by Burnley referee Jack Wray for venting his anger on a lineman.
Kirkby went 2-0 up four minutes into the second half when Phelan put the ball in the net after a neat move involving McConville and Nolan.
Kirkby missed a chance to go three up in the 64 th minutewhen Tom Barry blazed over the bar from the spot after a penalty had been awarded for hand-ball by Harold Martin.
But nine minutes later, the visitors went 3-0 upwhen substitute Veacock ran the ball over the line after Harwood ‘keeper Mottershead had saved an effort from McConville.
Mark Bennett scored a consolation goal for Harwood nine minutes from time and just a couple of minutes later, Veacock went very close to making it 4-1 to the visitors when a bullet shot from the edge of the 18-yard box went narrowly over the bar.
In the closing minutes of the match, sheep from the neighbouring field strayed onto the pitch momentarily after previously wandering behind the goal at the bottom end of the ground, but were shooed off within seconds.
The players booked, all in the second half, were Saunders and Nolan of Kirkby and Paul A Brown of Harwood.
Harwood’s line-up: Mottershead, Astin, Miller, Martin, Jones, P A Brown, Moran, Hecker, P G Brown, Geldard, Bennett. Sub:Riley (not used)
GREAT HARWOOD TOWN 0 KIRKBY TOWN 2
Harwood pay penalty with league cup exit
HARWOOD missed out on the chance of a potentially lucrative derby tie against First Division neighbours Clitheroe in the fifth round of the North West Counties League Cup as they fell to defeat against Second Division leaders Kirkby at the Showground on Wednesday.
And ironically, it was a miss by former Clitheroe player – striker Eric Geldard – that Harwood were left to rue as two second half goals from Kirkby’s talented winger Peter McConville sent Malcolm Darling’s side crashing out of the competition.
When Geldard missed from the penalty spot just seconds into the second half, the scoreline was still blank and in the opening 45 minutes, honours had been fairly even, with both sides creating chances and playing some enterprising and entertaining football.
Practically straight from the re-start, Geldard broke clear of the Kirkby defence but just as he entered the 18-yard box, he was tripped from behind by the Merseysiders’ central defender Jimmy Horrocks.
The former Clitheroe man took the kick himself, but put it wide of the left-hand post.
Five minutes later, Leroy Allen, back in the Harwood side after being re-signed from Darwen, broke clear on the right but shot straight at Kirkby ‘keeper Paul Jones.
After that, Kirkby really started to apply the pressure to the Harwood goal, playing some delightful one-touch football in the process, and really making the home side rue their missed penalty.
The visitors took the lead on the hour when Syl Nolan broke into the 18-yard box his shot hit the legs of Harwood ‘keeper Dave Mottershead and as the ball rebounded into the air in front of the goal. McConville headed into an empty net.
Apart from a great save that Jones made from Harwood’s lively midfielder Mark Bennett in the 69 th minute, it was Kirkby all the way in the latter stages and 15 minutes from time they added to their advantage when McConville lashed home a blistering shot from 20 yards, steering it over the head of Mottershead and into the top right hand corner of the net.
Chances in the first half-after the match had kicked off 10 minutes late because no corner flags were out and the bottom net was not properly secured at the appointed kick-off time-were fairly even, with Harwood making a lively start but the first real opportunity falling to Kirkby when their big striker Kenny Saunders headed over from a cross by McConville.
That came after four minutes and seven minutes later, a 20-yard shot by Colin Phelan was cleared off the line by Bennett with Mottershead beaten.
A shot by Harwood’s Steve Benko in the 18 th minute brought a good save from Jones but Harwood’s most glaring miss of the first half came when Benko broke down the left and put over a good low cross but although just a touch would have turned the ball home, none of the four Harwood men in the six-yard box could get the vital connection.
A few minutes after that, Kirkby’s Tom Barry and Saunders had four or five attempts between them at turning the ball home but a packed goalmouth of Harwood defenders managed to keep them at bay until Mottershead could grab the ball and end the danger.
As the second half got underway, with Harwood having given as much as they got up to then, it looked as though they might be in with a good chance of a place in the fifth round if they could just maintain their form.
But Geldard’s missed penalty really proved the turning point and in the latter stages of the game, Kirkby showed just why they are currently runaway leaders of the Second Division and favourites for a place in the top flight next season.
If they can maintain the form they showed in the last 40 minutes of Wednesday’s game, they should be a force to be reckoned with in Division One.
Harwood’s Mark Bennett was booked in the 67 th minute for a foul on Kirkby defender Mark Connor.
Great Harwood Town: Mottershead, Vercoe, Astin, Martin, M Jones, Bennett, Moran, Burton (sub. Foy 77 mins.), Allen, Geldard, Benko.
Kirkby Town: P Jones, Orr (sub. Kilshaw 58 mins.), Conner, Wilkinson, Horrocks, Roache, Barry, Phelan, Saunders, Nolan, McConville.
Referee: A Morton (Cleveleys).