Harleston joy at cup scalp
Harleston Town 2, Acle United Reserves 0
HARLESTON TOWN sent opponents from a higher division crashing out of the cup for the second time this season with a hard-fought victory over Division Two side Acle Reserves.
Harleston were without in form midfielder James Trudgill for the game, but there was a welcome return to the squad for influential skipper Ryan London after injury. Harleston were expecting the visitors to be a tough challenge, and they didn't disappoint.
The opening exchanges were very even with goalscoring chances few and far between. The visitors were looking to impose themselves physically on the game and were winning this side of the battle with the home side lacking a little bite and allowing Acle to gain that advantage. Town adapted by switching Lee West to a central role and moving Jake Imrie out wide, this almost had instant rewards with Imrie beating his man and delivering a dangerous ball into the box that was well cleared, West himself then went close with a dipping long range effort. It was the visitors who created the games first real chance when the striker beat the offside trap before rounding Goodwin in the Harleston goal, however, he could not find a way past defender Marc Pearce who somehow pulled off a fantastic goal line clearance to keep the scores level.
This scare seemed to shake Harleston into life, Andrew Morris was now pulling the strings in midfield and Town were beginning to play some good football. On the half hour mark Harleston took the lead when a great delivery from the left was headed back across goal by Paul Bliss for the onrushing Fionn Goodwin Wright to smash in off the post. Harleston were now in the ascendancy and were matching the visitors in the physical departments of the game whilst continuing to play football.
Town had half chances to extend their lead included a well struck shot from full back Dan Burrett but the score remained 1-0 at the break.
The second half began in similar fashion to the first, with the midfield battle dominating proceedings; West and Morris were putting in excellent shifts in the middle of the park ensuring the hosts remained on top in this tie. Town were continuing to crave out openings with Goodwin Wright and West both going close.
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As the game progressed Acle began to put more pressure on the Harleston goal through deep crosses and long throws but the Harleston back line stood firm with Pearce and Bliss winning everything in the air as Acle could not turn their pressure into clear openings.
Substitute Ondrej Novak had a good chance for the hosts when he sprung the offside trap but fired just wide as Acle committed men forward Town looked dangerous on the break. With 15 minutes remaining Bliss and the Acle centre forward were involved in a scuffle which led to both players being sent off, Harleston adjusted by introducing London into the fray and he began where Bliss left off by winning everything in the air.
In the final minute of the game Harleston broke again and the lively Imrie found himself free in the box his trickery fooled the defender who up-ended him and the referee awarded a penalty.
David Norman coolly converted the spot-kick to secure an excellent victory for Harleston and ensure that their name is in the hat for the next round.
JD Young Man Of The Match: Andrew Morris – Bossed the midfield from start to finish with an outstanding display.