Bates at the double as Rovers hold leaders

Searing penalty save ensures a point for Rovers

HSCL Premier Division

Letchworth Garden City Eagles 2 Harpenden Rovers 2

A THOROUGHLY entertaining game saw Rovers earn a well deserved point away at league leaders Letchworth GC Eagles on Saturday.

Bob Fowler’s team produced some fantastic football on a difficult surface to delay the home team’s relentless quest for the Premier Division title. Two goals from Will Bates - one in each half - was enough to keep honours even in the contest.

Rovers will however think that possibly they deserved all three points with a string of chances in the second half which could have seen them even win the game.

A draw was a fair result in the end though after goalkeeper Luke Searing saved a last ditch penalty after he brought down the Eagles’ centre forward in what was the 93rd minute of the game.

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Fowler said: “Trigger (Searing) seems to do everything the hard way. He’s in great form but I felt he was slow to react to the ball over the top which led to the penalty. But credit to him, he picked himself up and made a terrific save to earn us a point.

“I felt we were the better side in the second half against a very good Letchworth side who will go on to win the title.

“I was also pleased with Will Bates for how he took his goals; him and Ryan are forging a real partnership for us up front.”

He concluded: “Praise also had to go to the central midfield pairing of Danny Green and Adam Smith who worked their socks off for the team and have shown in the last few weeks what good players they are.”

* Rovers’ Reserves entertained high flying Baldock Town in the Reserve Cup semi-final.

Baldock started brightly demonstrating why they are top of League One. Rovers had to defend solidly for the first 20 minutes, James Dobinson and Sergeant Fox expertly marshalling the defence. On the couple of occasions Baldock broke through they found ‘keeper Tom Mackie in great form.

On the half hour Alfie Plumb broke down the wing and fired in a cross, for Simon Beazle to nip in ahead of the defender and tap home.

This gave Rovers some added confidence and they then kept the ball better with Shaun Butler and Joe Inman controlling the midfield. Rovers grabbed a second just before half time, when Beazle fed Dave Ring who calmly slotted under the advancing ‘keeper. Baldock came out after half time pumped up and scored after 10 minutes.

Baldock continued to pepper the goal pushing hard for the equaliser, but were thwarted many times by Man of the Match Mackie who pulled off half a dozen world class saves to take Rovers through to the final.

Manager Jim Nicholls was delighted with the hard work and effort the team put in especially considering the young age of the players and a final is the least they deserve for such a great season.

* Harpenden Rovers B came from behind twice to get a well earned point following a 2-2 draw with title chasing SWR. Two well taken goals from Chris Coleman rounded off a resilient Rovers fight back and they remain top of the league. The outstanding Man of the Match was James Lowther.