After their first success last week, Slazenger’s Development Squad went into this weeks encounter expecting plenty. With the home field advantage, they were looking to capitalise against a battle-hardened Harrogate squad. In the end, the vigour of youth was not enough to secure a second win against a more experienced side.
The first half started strong, with the squad passing the ball at speed. Notable performances from Tim Hunter and Matthew Smith provided a strong supply of balls through to the front men, but it seemed that strong initial defending would deny an early goal. As the first half progressed, Slazenger took greater control of the game, with some strong sequences of fluid play orchestrated by right wing thunderbolt Alan Bates, and Captain Andy Fisher in the center. However, a quick mistake was all Harrogate needed to break away, defeating the back line and punishing the team with the first goal.
After the restart, Slazenger pushed harder, and in trademark underdog style forced an equalised within minutes. A slick combination of play from Isaac Fisher and Jake Barras culminated in an inspirational finish, marking Jake’s first goal for the team. Even with the flow of play firmly in Slazengers favour, the team failed to expand their lead, coming up against a staunch back line. This inability to score was punished a second time, as Harrogate punched a hole through the midfield, forcing a fast break, and ultimately defeating the valiant efforts of Ralph Toon.As it was with the first concession, Slazenger struck back, claiming their second goal. But as the team celebrated, the Umpire’s whistle blew to disallow the goal, much to the dismay of the team. It seemed as though it would be impossible for Slazenger to score any further.
In the second half, Slazenger came out knowing what needed to be done, but the inexperience of the young side showed through, and Harrogate scored two further. An appearance by legendary wonder striker Paul Corney gave the team hope of a comeback in the closing quarter. Though after being defeated on the line, and landing on his face several times running, it seemed even his skills were not enough.
Unfortunately, the 4-1 result belies the closeness of the match, with the two teams evenly matched across most of the 80 minutes. Slazenger should be encouraged with their performance against such a strong side, having dominated possession for so much of the game. Against one of the potential winners of the league, the game should be considered by no means a great defeat.
Slazenger face Rotherham 5th’s away next week.
Team List: John Toon, Ralph Toon, Isaac Fisher, Robin Brearton, Tim Hunter, Matthew Smith, Ian Hedges, Jake Barras, Mark Kitchen, Alan Bates, Andrew Fisher, Alex Spencer-Taylor, Paul Corney
Slazenger Mens Development (4ths) (1) vs (4) Harrogate 6th’s
(Sat 18th Sept 2010, 4:30pm, Slazenger Sports Club)