WREN ROVERS 1 GREAT HARWOOD TOWN 1
Paul’s goal earns creditable point
GREAT HARWOOD TOWN recovered from conceding a goal in the first minute to earn a creditable draw away to a Wren side they beat 2-1 when the teams met at the Showground at the end of August.
Since that first meeting, Wren, managed by Dave Furnivall, who played for the former Great Harwood FC in the Northern Premier League, have dropped down the table somewhat after an impressive start, but have recently strengthened their line-up.
Harwood manager Malcolm Darling thought they were a much better side than they were when they visited the Showground and was pleased with the result.
After going down to a very uncharacteristic 6-0 drubbing away to Droylsden in their previous league match, Town badly needed to get a creditable result to keep the momentum of their promotion push going and a blistering equaliser by Paul Goldsborough-his first goal for Harwood-made sure that Mr. Darling’s side came away with a point.
Harwood were caught cold in the first minute when Gary Robinson gave the home side the lead with an effort that deflected off Harwood’s Nigel Burton and looped over Town ‘keeper Dave Mottershead.
A minute later, Wren hit the post but after that Harwood started to get their act together and looked fairly impressive going forward with Eric Geldard and Goldsborough making up a two-man attack.
Midway through the first half, former Darwen striker Goldsborough gave a tremendous hint of his superb natural goal-scoring ability when he blasted home a stunning 25-yard effort, which caught the Wren ‘keeper completely by surprise.
From then on, for the remainder of the first half and for the early part of the second, Harwood had the better of the attacking play, with Burton and Goldsborough both shooting wide of the target in the opening minutes of the second period.
But there were no further goals, although in the very last minute of the match, either side could have clinched both points.
Mottershead pulled off a stunning save, acrobatically tipping the ball onto the bar. The ball bounced off the crossbar to the edge of the Harwood penalty area and the visitors then worked their way right upfield and substitute Peter McCrae brought an impressive save from the Wren ‘keeper.
Mr. Darling, who left out right back Simon Vercoe “for tactical reasons”, with Mark Jones switching to that position from the centre of defence, said he was pleased with the result and, after the thrashing at Droylsden two weeks earlier, felt that a draw away to a useful Wren side was at least progress back onto the “right road”.
“We badly needed to get something from the match and after that early setback, a point was satisfying enough,” said Mr. Darling
“Wren looked a lot more useful than when they came to the Showground, and not many sides will win at their ground.
“After getting a point there, we need to beat Ellesmere Port at home on Saturday and then that should set us up for an exciting Christmas period.”
Mr. Darling said that he left out Vercoe to try a new line-up in defence, with Alan Procter starting a league game for the first time this season partnering Harold Martin in the centre and Mark Jones and Steve Benko as the full backs. Vercoe travelled to the match with the first team party.
The Harwood squad: Mottershead, M Jones, Procter, Martin, Benko, Blackburn, Moran, Bennett, Burton, Goldsborough, Geldard, McCrae, Vercoe, PG Brown.
Great Harwood Town 2 Wren Rovers 1
Foy and Walker goals clinch win
Late goals by Brian Foy and Roger Walker earned Great Harwood Town their second victory of the season after they had looked in grave danger of falling to their second home defeat.
A goal down with 16 minutes to go and with Wren having the best of the second half chances, Harwood staged a great comeback to snatch an equaliser with Foy slamming the ball home from 20 yards.
And nine minutes later, Walker grabbed the winner when he headed the ball home from close range from a pinpoint left wing cross by Chris Ashcroft.
Wren had taken the lead two minutes before the interval when Chris O’Donnell, their most dangerous striker throughout the match, slammed a first-time shot past Harwood ‘keeper Dave Mottershead from a cross from the right.
That was the only time in the first half –apart from when a shot by Foy which went narrowly wide after 13 minutes-that either side had looked likely to score but after the interval, Wren piled on the pressure in order to try and boost their lead and only a string of excellent saves by the impressive Mottershead kept them out.
One of the most impressive was from the head of that man O’Donnell, from a right wing corner, as the Harwood ‘keeper produced a blistering reaction save to thwart the visitors.
Shortly after that, a header from Wren’s Steve Helm hit the underside of the bar-it was thought that Mottershead might have got a faint touch on it –and the danger was cleared.
Mottershead’s fine form at the back seemed to inspire his colleagues to keep bidding to get something out of the game, although Wren dominated practically completely in the first part of the second half.
But in the 74th minute, former Stanley winger John Blackburn broke free for the first time in the match, crossed into the penalty box from the right and the ball came out to Foy, who blasted it home. And then Harwood never looked back.
But despite the result, it was hardly the most convincing performance, as Town manager Malcolm Darling was quick to point out after the match, and he is still looking to strengthen his side if they are going to be up among the promotion challengers come the end of the season.
“I was pleased with the result, but that was all” said Mr. Darling.
“It was not a good performance and there is still plenty of work to be done.
“We watched Wren a few weeks ago and they didn’t look half as impressive on Saturday as they did before. But we are going to have to play much better if we are going to get the right results on a consistent basis.”
Harwood included in their side for his debut former Clitheroe striker Eric Geldard, who scored the winning goal for the Shawbridge side in last season’s LFA Trophy final at Deepdale, Preston, and joined Harwood towards the end of last week.
But he made little impression, with Blackburn and Ashcroft also disappointing apart from the crosses that produced the two goals.
Their most impressive players included Foy, Brian Moran, and the ever-dependable Simon Vercoe.
On the bright side, however, it must be said that on so many occasions last season and in previous terms, Harwood have found themselves in similar positions –a goal down with some 15 minutes to go-and pulled a goal back only for their comeback to end there and then.
At least on Saturday, they had the drive to take the comeback all the way and clinch a victory, and that gives the Showground side something to build on in the coming weeks.
Great Harwood Town: Mottershead, Vercoe, Aston, Martin, O’Brien, Foy, Blackburn, Moran, Geldard, Walker, Ashcroft. Sub: Brown
Wren Rovers 1 Great Harwood Town 0
May 4th 1985
A FLUKE GOAL 20 minutes from time saw Harwood go down to defeat in their final league match of the season and dashed their hopes of finishing in the top five of the North West Counties Second Division.
Harwood ‘keeper Phil Maher appeared to stub his toe taking a goal-kick and the ball trickled out to a Wren striker. Defender Kevin Dobson tried to cut out the danger but the ball spun into the net.
The best chance Harwood had of getting on the scoresheet came in the first-half and fell to Stuart Lally after a neat pass from Brian Moran.
But in a dour, typical end of season game, scoring opportunities were generally few and far between.
Harwood manager Rick Grogan came on as a substitute for Phil Greenhalgh at the interval.
LINE-UP : Maher, Vercoe, Dobson, Martin, Mooney, Nugent, Moran, Foy, Greenhalgh (sub. Grogan 45 mins), Lally, Walker.