Harpenden lose but avoid relegation

Russell Timms plays a pass

Russell Timms plays a pass - Credit: Archant

Harpenden men’s 1sts avoided relegation by the skin of their teeth on the final day of the East League Division 2S season.

Russell Timms’ side needed a win to secure their status in the league. If they lost, Broxbourne, who occupied the final relegation spot, could jump above them with a win at promoted East London.

Harpenden lost 3-1, meaning them needed Broxbourne to lose. As Harpenden scrambled to find the result, relief filled Clarence Park as they saw the final score: East London 5 Broxbourne 1.

It was a narrow escape for a Harpenden side that started the season strongly, then went on a seven game losing skid but managed to right themselves for the survival charge.

With a young crop of talented players, hopes are high for more success next season, despite a final-day loss to Bedford.

Mike Bowler set up Reece Baker-Kiff, who rounded a defender before opening the scoring. Bedford responded before the break, hitting the backboard at the third time of asking in a goalmouth scramble.

Harpenden dominated the second half, with Nick McLean, Ali Hutson, Baker-Kiff and Ali Barrett denying Bedford time to build from the back.

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Ultimately, the game hinged on three crucial incidents. Late in the half Harpenden were denied a goal from a short corner when the ball was adjudged to have been stopped inside the D. Minutes later Harpenden were reduced to 10 men, when the umpire judged an apparently innocuous tumble on half way to be a deliberate attempt to disrupt play. Then, with 90 seconds to go and Harpenden pressing for the win, Bedford scored two quick goals.

Disappointment turned to relief when other results came through, giving Harpenden the chance to redeem themselves in East League Division 2S next season.