Harpenden still hope after win at Witham

Reece Baker-Kiff scored all four for Harpenden in their win over Hertford.
Picture: Karyn Haddon

Reece Baker-Kiff scored all four for Harpenden in their win over Hertford. Picture: Karyn Haddon - Credit: Archant

Harpenden’s men maintained their hopes of promotion in East League Division Two South with a 2-1 win at windy Witham.

It was a far from convincing performance, but conditions were not conducive to flowing hockey, with the strong wind making communication difficult.

The home side took the lead inside five minutes when an uncharacteristic mix-up in the Harpenden defence allowed the Witham striker to go through one-on-one and beat the keeper.

There was a distinct lack of quality in play, with Witham relying on two key players and a handful of cards dished out.

And with results elsewhere earlier in the day having confirmed Witham’s relegation before pushback in the late fixture, there was a distinct low-key mood to proceedings.

Harpenden managed to get over their poor start and gradually get a foothold in the game, with a couple of decent half-chances to get back on level terms being spurned.

Tom Bleakley had the best of them but could not quite latch on to a cross at the far post.

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The visitors managed to find an equaliser just before half-time, though, with Danny Burgess placing his shot just beyond the keeper from a short corner.

The second half was a largely scrappy affair with a fair amount of panic starting to set into the Harpenden ranks when it looked like their chances of promotion were starting to slip away.

They managed a few moments of quality, highlighting exactly what they are capable of, but Witham also enjoyed some dangerous moments.

And it wasn’t until the closing stages when Harpenden snatched a winner from a short corner.

With Reece Baker-Kiff on the sidelines, it was left to Tom Bunbury to convert at the far post after a clever routine inspired by Dave Falk.

Harpenden then saw out the time that remained to secure all three points to take the promotion race down to the wire.

Hertford’s 6-1 loss at leaders Bishop’s Stortford saw them all but drop out of the running, but East London beat Felixstowe 3-1 to set up a decider for third place.

Harpenden are three points behind, but have home advantage at Queenswood School on Saturday, with play getting underway at 12.45pm.

And they also have a game in hand, at Ipswich ES seconds on March 30.