The Robins returned to the Middlesbrough area just 7 days after their last visit hoping to make it a double over Northern League 2nd Division sides.
The game kicked off before a sparse crowd on an excellent surface akin to that of the Interlink Express Stadium. The hot weather would ensure that the game wouldn’t be played at ‘100 mph’ and it began slowly.
Six minutes in, the games opening chance fell to Mark Beard, playing up front with John Eastham, and the summer signing made no mistake from 10 yards. The Norton midfield and attack were making little impression on the Harwood rearguard, with the Reds defending from the front. The midfield of Fisher, Dean, O’Neil and Pope were proving too good for the hosts with their danger man, centre-forward John Outhwaite, restricted to winning headers near the half way line. The one chance they did create was tem minutes before the break when a great shot hit Harris’ right hand post before rebounding to the feet of Outhwaite. As the Harwood players and fans waited for the net to bulge, the unfortunate number 9 fell over his own feet and the chance was gone. That was as near as Norton came to scoring until the last few minutes of the game.
Just before half time it was all over as a cross from the Harwood right eluded the defence and fell to the feet of Pope who buried his left foot shot into the bottom right hand corner. There was just time for the kick off before the whistle blew for the interval and the body language of the home players told that there was no way back for them.
The 2nd half was similar to the first with Harwood keeping it tight and never looking as if they’d concede. The first corner for either side was over an hour coming, but it was wasted by the Ancients, despite Outhwaite’s dominance in the air. 15 minutes from time Norton were put out of their misery when Ryan Fisher, the season’s outstanding player, lashed in his 2nd goal of the campaign.
The Norton sub. then came on and looked lively, and a great shot struck the Harwood bar before our own sub. Darren Rogers came on and finished things off with the goal of the game. Controlling the ball and turning his man in one movement, he curled the ball into the top right hand corner of the goal from left hand corner of the area. There was still time for Harris to earn his money with a last minute penalty save. The number 13, Norton’s best player, dribbled into the corner of the box and was tackled by Burnside who was harshly adjudged to have fouled him. Harris dived full length to his left to pull off a tremendous save with the last action of the game.

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©2009 J Fenton