Harpenden Rovers v Reserves, 24 Oct 2020 (League)
Buntingford Won 4-1
Another away journey for the Ressies who continued their nomadic journey around Hertfordshire, of the 9 games played or scheduled this season, only 2 have been at home.
After back to back wins Town were looking to build again and Harpenden Rovers stood in the way with what looked on paper likely to be a tough game.
As usual, availability meant a number of changes, with Lloyd Bowman and Alex Hewer missing, there were recalls for Ryan Bailey in defence and Ayo Akiode at right wingback.
On a blustery, wet afternoon Town kicked off up the slope on a pitch resembling an iron-age earthworks.
Town didn’t have to wait long for their first chance when after good pressure by the midfield Reece found himself through but his volley went just wide of the far post.
The home team looked competent and in the first 15 minutes both teams probed and prodded mostly with little end product as both defences stood firm.
On 20 mins Luke Sloan’s throw in found George Lovegrove and his run down the right ended with a nice cut back to Reece Knapp but he couldn’t steer his shot on target.
Reece started the game as captain and that was reflected in his non stop work-rate, his desire not only to win the ball back but then drive forward definitely inspired his team mates around him, and with Luke Sloan putting in a shift and Joe Tokely’s aerial ability and coolness, the Town midfield was really winning the battle in the centre of the pitch.
Town seemed to favour the right hand side and Ayo worked tirelessly up and down linking up with George on numerous occasions and on 32 minutes it was this partnership that forced a corner.
George’s beautifully whipped corner caused chaos in the box and as it dropped James Parkins was there to slam the ball home from 8 yards out, 1-0 Town.
A quick change for Town as James Cotton replaced Ayo to keep things fresh on 35 minutes.
Town didn’t have it all their own way and Parkins and Will Brant were working hard to cover a speedy winger and a right back who possessed a superb cross on him; luckily for Town Ryan Bailey and Toby Grieves along with Will won everything that came into the box.
Ewan White’s kicking had been fantastic throughout the first half and with Tommy Jackson competing for everything up top Town opted to play in a direct manner on a poor surface.
On 44 minutes it was a long free kick by Ewan which was guided behind the defence by Parkins and as usual it was George Lovegrove’s work rate which capitalised on a weak pass back and he nicked in a finished beautifully to send Town in 2-0 up at the break.
The next goal would be vital in this game and luckily for Town they didn’t have to wait long after the restart.
From kick off, Joe nicked in, strode forward and played in Tommy Jackson who hit a stinging low drive to the bottom corner, Town 3-0 inside 6 seconds of the second half.
Town made a raft of changes on the hour and Kaps Patel, Cooper Allen and Jacob Willis all came on to show what they could do.
Neither team really stamped any authority on the second half, Town’s forward play let them down with the through balls running away down the slope but always looked comfortable in defence.
The game changed in bizarre circumstances on 75 mins when Tokely’s cynical trip on an opponent was met with a slap in the face and a small amount or argy bargy; while everyone dispersed to carry on with the game the referee decided to send both players off, a decision which left both teams, managers and crowd baffled as to why the Bunt man has been dismissed.
Town struggled now to regain composure and on 75 mins they conceded a free-kick 25 yards out which resulted in a deflected shot finding the bottom corner and another clean sheet eluded them.
Town changed formation now and reintroduced Reece, George and Ayo and the ref had to step in again on 80 mins when he randomly awarded a penalty for pushing at a corner, this time in Town’s favour; up stepped Jacob Willis to smash the ball home to restore the 3 goal lead.
Town always looked comfortable and despite one low cross flashing across the 6 yard box Ewan was a relative bystander in goal for long periods.
Jake Bush managed to get a run out for the final few minutes up front as Town recorded their 3rd straight win.
10 goals in 3 games scored now and the defence continues to grow in stature; we have another tough challenge next week – away, again, to Stevenage Borough Academy.