Roberts at the double as Harleston battle hard to hold off Long Stratton
- Credit: IAN BURT
A late brace from Scott Roberts gave Town a 4-2 win against a hard-working and determined Long Stratton side in an action-packed local derby at The Rec on Saturday.
Town named a strong squad for the game with fit again Olly Willis returning to the bench alongside Paul Bliss. Sam Willis was back and started in midfield and Jordan Blyth was handed his first start after impressing from the bench in recent weeks.
In front of a large crowd on a heavy pitch it was the visitors who settled the quicker and took the lead early on through Campoli. Town began to settle and equalised when Brendan Burke unleashed a fine strike from distance which flew into the net.
Town were on top and enjoying the majority of possession and territorial advantage but they squandered numerous half chances whilst Stratton looked a constant threat on the counter attack.
The second half began in similar fashion with Town camped in the Stratton half but unable to make a breakthrough with the visitors defending well and Town struggling to make incisive passes on the poor pitch.
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Olly Willis was introduced and his strong running from full back began to make a difference and one of those runs resulted in him being pulled down on 70 minutes for a penalty. Blyth stepped up and his penalty was superbly pushed on to the post, but Blyth was on hand to fire in the rebound. Further chances came and went and it looked as if Town were going to be made to pay when Stratton broke with seven minutes to go, and the winger produced a fine cross for the unmarked sub Bemrose to nod home and silence the home crowd.
However, Town showed good character to regain the lead two minutes later when the impressive Howell broke free and squared for Scott Roberts to score.
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In the closing moments, sub Paul Bliss showed determination to close down the full back and force him into an error, leaving Bliss to unselfishly square the ball for Roberts to tap into the empty net to secure a hard fought three points for Town against a Stratton side who must be credited for pushing them all the way.
Team: Viner, Hitch (O Willis), Howard, Furlong, Burke, Page, S Willis, Roberts, Howell, Russell (Delaney), Blyth (Bliss).