HARWOOD’S excellent run of nine unbeaten games came to a surprising end at lowly New Mills. The struggling Derbyshire side gave a tremendous defensive display and the back four protected the keeper to such an extent that the Robins’ forwards hardly had a sniff of goal.
Kicking up the hill in the first half on a bobbly pitch which soon began to cut up, Harwood enjoyed the lion’s share of possession but found their opponents in determined mood with the tackles flying in. The New Mills management duo received a stern talking to by the referee who sent one of them from the dug out. Several players, most of them from Harwood, then followed his name into the notebook. Goalscoring chances were at a premium but following a right wing corner, the Robins were presented with a great opportunity after a spot kick was awarded for a foul off the ball. Sadly for the large Harwood following, John Eastham’s kick was a woeful effort which the keeper saved with ease.
The second half was a similar affair but Bobby Harris was the hero after 50 minutes when he somehow tipped over a rasping ten yard shot which appeared to be unstoppable. The first goal of the game came on 63 minutes when, after a fifty-fifty challenge on the left hand side of the box, the referee once again pointed to the spot. Wakefield made no mistake sending Harris the wrong way. From then on the game descended into a farce as players were booked for the most trivial of challenges but mostly for comments made the referee. The play was held up every few minutes as players from both sides were given lengthy lectures. It appeared that most of the Harwood players ended up in the book and Dennis Hill, the Robins’ best player on the day, managed it twice to receive his marching orders. Hill’s original booking was given after a New Mills supporter abused the referee who mistakenly thought that it had come from the Harwood midfielder! His second caution was for persistently arguing his innocence! Try as they might Harwood never looked like scoring and only the crossbar saved the team from a heavier defeat.
With the constant stoppages for bookings and at least six appearances by the New Mills physio, the game finally came to an end at five o’clock with the referee receiving a tongue-lashing from both sets of supporters and officials.
Umpteen bookings, seven for Harwood, a red card and two penalties ensured the fixture was entertaining for the fans but Harwood manager John Hughes was not quite as impressed.
He said: “The referee didn’t make the game easy for us. We have never received seven bookings and a red card in one game for as long as I can remember.”

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©2009 J Fenton