Harpenden’s promotion hopes crushed by Southend

HARPENDEN’S seven match unbeaten run came to a juddering halt on Saturday against league strugglers Old Southendians, crushing any lingering promotion dreams.

Despite dominating the game, Harpenden could not convert possession into a win, going on to lose 3-2.

After the game vice captain James Singer said: “You can moan about not getting strokes, but at the end of the day, we conceded some sloppy goals and should have been more clinical up front.

“We have three games left now to go out on a high as we start to plan for next season’s campaign. That’s the focus for us now.”

Harpenden started badly. A long hit down the left wing, plus a couple of passes and the visitors had a penalty corner. An improvised routine resulted in a shot from the left, flashing past keep Ben Brind to open the scoring.

Harps responded as Ali Hutson earned a short corner, which Lance Boyd-Clark smashed home from close range.

After the restart, Harpenden were improved but failed to capitalise on their opportunities. And it came back to haunt them as Southend scored against the run of play.

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Harpenden responded with a period of total dominance, culminating in a series of 8 penalty corners, including two very solid shouts for penalty strokes, as shots hit defenders on the way to goal. The umpires declined Harpenden’s appeals, but eventually this pressure told and Harpenden scored. A Todd Baines drag flick going in off a defender’s stick.

At 2-2 Harpenden looked to finish the job but they were undone by a quick counter attack, Southend earning a penalty corner from a break away, which was promoted to a stroke following an infringement by the Harpenden skipper. An unconvincing flick beat Brind in the Harpenden goal and nicked the points for the visitors.