Harwood ace scores two goals and makes the other

Bennett makes his mark as Town beat lowly Nantwich




TWO GOALS by Mark Bennett and one from Paul Goldsborough, made by Bennett, earned Harwood a convincing victory against relegation-haunted Nantwich Town, although Malcolm Darling’s side hardly raised their pace above a canter all afternoon.

It was by no means the most convincing performance of all time by Harwood, but it was enough to see off the challenge of a Nantwich side playing their last game of the season and seeming certainties for Division Three next term.

Mr Darling was as distressed with his side’s performance as he might have been had they lost, claiming that too many of his players “wanted to do their own thing”, but despite a poor show, Harwood did enough to gain maximum points against a visiting side who only had two attempts on goal in the entire match.

“It was the right result but the performance left a lot to be desired,” said Mr Darling after the match, “Too many players wanted to do their own thing and that is something that we will have to sort out.”

Nantwich were probably the weakest opposition Harwood have faced all season and their chances were limited to a disallowed goal 10 minutes into the second half and a shot by full-back Ian Cooke three minutes from time which ended up narrowly wide of the left hand post.

They played some impressive football in midfield but just couldn’t put it together in front of goal and if Harwood had been more on song, they could have had a hatful of goals.

As it was, besides one early miss by Vercoe, Harwood didn’t really get going until Goldsborough gave them the lead 12 minutes before the interval.

They played their best football of the match between then and half-time, with Mark Jones going close and Bennett scoring their second, but the second half was a scrappy affair and Harwood only created a handful of genuine scoring opportunities before Bennett put the issue beyond doubt 10 minutes from time after a neat one-two with Goldsborough.

The win keeps Harwood in with a slight chance of promotion, but it is a chance which is more mathematical than realistic, although the vast majority of their remaining games are at home and they still have to entertain fellow promotion contenders such as Warrington and Rossendale, as well as leaders Kirkby, who are at the Showground on Wednesday.

Mr Darling has maintained all along that his side will battle right to the end of the season if there is still the slightest hope of First Division football next season, but those battling qualities were rather lacking on Saturday, although strikers Bennett and Goldsborough looked very sharp in the brief periods when they were on song, while former Clitheroe man Eric Geldard was at his sharpest ever for Harwood.

Harwood’s first chance came in the eighth minute when a shot by Harold Martin was blocked and Vercoe shot wide from the rebound when he had the goal at his mercy and there was little goalmouth activity of note until Goldsborough put Harwood into the lead with an impressive goal.

Bennett turned well to beat a Nantwich defender and passed to Goldsborough who turned and slammed a neat shot into the bottom left-hand corner of the net from 15 yards.

Harwood then enjoyed their best spell of the entire match, with Bennett breaking clear in the 40 th minute and passing square to Mark Jones, who was beaten by Nantwich ‘keeper Terry Roberts on the edge of the box.

A minute later, Geldard brought a good save from Roberts with a 25-yard effort but a minute after that, Harwood were 2-0 ahead as Bennett again broke clear of the Nantwich defence, beat Roberts on the edge of the 18-yard box and slotted the ball into the empty net.

That really ought to have set Harwood up for an all-out assault on the Nantwich goal in the second half but after the interval, the home side were a pale shadow of the team that had looked so good for that brief 12 minute spell between the first goal and the break.

The first notable event of the second half, in fact was a disallowed goal by Nantwich, which was well worked out but was ruled out because of an infringement in the six-yard box.

A cross from the right was headed down at the far post by Colin Davies and headed over the line by Richard Fitzpatrick but Harwood’s two-goal advantage was maintained and besides Cooke’s late shot which went wide, all the goal action in the second half was initiated by Harwood.

After 57 minutes, a shot by Geldard from close range was deflected into the side netting and four minutes later, Goldsborough brought a good save from Roberts after a neat move which also involved Bennett.

Harwood has a couple of further chances of note before Bennett put the issue beyond doubt in the 80 th minute, slamming the ball home from eight yards after a neat one-two with Goldsborough.

The closest Harwood came to scoring a fourth was two minutes after that third goal as Goldsborough broke loose on the left and , with Bennett waiting in the middle, his cross-cum-shot hit the outside of the post.

Harwood in fact played the last minute with 10 men as Jones limped off with an ankle injury with substitute Mick Miller already on for Martin.

GREAT HARWOOD TOWN: Mottershead, Moran, Astin, Martin, (sub Miller 80 mins), Callen, M Jones, Geldard, Benko, Vercoe, Goldsborough, Bennett.


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©2009 J Fenton