Harps fall short as winner-takes-all spoils go to London

PUBLISHED: 08:20 29 March 2019

Harpenden HC V East London 11 - Mark Hoefield scores a goal for Harpenden.


Picture: Karyn Haddon

Harpenden HC V East London 11 - Mark Hoefield scores a goal for Harpenden. Picture: Karyn Haddon

Archant

Harpenden’s hopes of promotion from East League Division Two South were cruelly dashed after a 3-2 defeat to their main rivals East London.

Harpenden HC V East London 11 -


Picture: Karyn HaddonHarpenden HC V East London 11 - Picture: Karyn Haddon

Twice the hosts led but a goal with 10 minutes to go saw the Lee Valley-based hockey club clinch the third and final promotion spot.

Harpenden HC V East London 11 - Michael Crossley in action for East London 11.


Picture: Karyn HaddonHarpenden HC V East London 11 - Michael Crossley in action for East London 11. Picture: Karyn Haddon

Things looked a look brighter at the start of the contest at Queenswood School with Harpenden taking the lead early on.

Harpenden HC V East London 11 - Reece Baker-Kiff in action for Harpenden.


Picture: Karyn HaddonHarpenden HC V East London 11 - Reece Baker-Kiff in action for Harpenden. Picture: Karyn Haddon

Having seized possession in defence, the ball was quickly worked upfield with Harry Kneale finding Rees Baker-Kiff on the edge of the circle.

Harpenden HC V East London 11 - Reece Baker-Kiff in action for Harpenden.


Picture: Karyn HaddonHarpenden HC V East London 11 - Reece Baker-Kiff in action for Harpenden. Picture: Karyn Haddon

And after he beat a couple of defenders, a reverse stick cross found Kneale again and he knocked it home at the back post.

Harpenden HC V East London 11 - Reece Baker-Kiff for Harpenden battles with Neal Doidge for East London 11.


Picture: Karyn HaddonHarpenden HC V East London 11 - Reece Baker-Kiff for Harpenden battles with Neal Doidge for East London 11. Picture: Karyn Haddon

The problems for Harpenden were at the other end with sloppy play and misplaced passes handing possession back to East London on a number of occasions.

Harpenden HC V East London 11 - Reece Baker-Kiff for Harpenden battles with Neal Doidge for East London 11.


Picture: Karyn HaddonHarpenden HC V East London 11 - Reece Baker-Kiff for Harpenden battles with Neal Doidge for East London 11. Picture: Karyn Haddon

The home side also found it difficult to move the ball forwards with an uncharacteristic void between defence and midfield.

Harpenden HC V East London 11 - Mark Hoefield scores a goal for Harpenden.


Picture: Karyn HaddonHarpenden HC V East London 11 - Mark Hoefield scores a goal for Harpenden. Picture: Karyn Haddon

That together with London pressure brought an equaliser shortly before the end of the first half with a strike from a penalty corner squirmed through.

Harpenden HC V East London 11 - Russell Timms in action for Harpenden.


Picture: Karyn HaddonHarpenden HC V East London 11 - Russell Timms in action for Harpenden. Picture: Karyn Haddon

But Harpenden came out well after half-time and were back in front within 10 minutes thanks to Mark Hoefield’s second of the season.

Harpenden HC V East London 11 - Reece Baker-Kiff in action for Harpenden.


Picture: Karyn HaddonHarpenden HC V East London 11 - Reece Baker-Kiff in action for Harpenden. Picture: Karyn Haddon

A second equaliser wasn’t looking in coming and like the first it brought a number of complaints from the home support.

Harpenden HC V East London 11 - Jon Bradshaw in action for Harpenden.


Picture: Karyn HaddonHarpenden HC V East London 11 - Jon Bradshaw in action for Harpenden. Picture: Karyn Haddon

The cross from the right seemed harmless enough but a wicked deflection flew off skipper Nick Kimberley’s stick and straight into the top corner of the goal leaving Andy King helpless.

Harpenden HC V East London 11 - Mark Hoefield for Harpenden battles with Michael Crossly for East London 11.


Picture: Karyn HaddonHarpenden HC V East London 11 - Mark Hoefield for Harpenden battles with Michael Crossly for East London 11. Picture: Karyn Haddon

However, the controversy came from doubts as to whether the initial ball in had been from inside or outside of the circle.

Harpenden HC V East London 11 - Mark Hoefield for Harpenden battles with Michael Crossly for East London 11.


Picture: Karyn HaddonHarpenden HC V East London 11 - Mark Hoefield for Harpenden battles with Michael Crossly for East London 11. Picture: Karyn Haddon

If it was the latter, then the goal shouldn’t have stood.

Harpenden HC V East London 11 - Mark Hoefield in action for Harpenden.


Picture: Karyn HaddonHarpenden HC V East London 11 - Mark Hoefield in action for Harpenden. Picture: Karyn Haddon

It did though and with 10 minutes to go the winner was found from a penalty corner.

Harpenden HC V East London 11 - Mark Hoefield in action for Harpenden.


Picture: Karyn HaddonHarpenden HC V East London 11 - Mark Hoefield in action for Harpenden. Picture: Karyn Haddon

Harpenden coach David Thomas took the decision to substitute goalkeeper King for an extra outfield player but although they pinned their opponents back, winning a few penalty corners, they couldn’t supply the killer touch to salvage something.

Harpenden still have one game to play, a trip to I-ES in Ipswich on Saturday, knowing a win will give them fourth place and crown what still has been a good season.

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