Hockey: Results conspire against relegated Harpenden

David Falk's side were relegated on Saturday despite beating West Herts 3-2. Picture: Danny Loo

David Falk's side were relegated on Saturday despite beating West Herts 3-2. Picture: Danny Loo - Credit: Archant

Harpenden suffered the cruelest of fates on Saturday, as they found themselves relegated despite a storming performance to trump local rivals West Herts.

With Bourne Deeping and Ipswich East Suffolk both two points ahead of Harpenden going into the final day mix for the forth relegation spot, Harps were always reliant on other results going their way.

Harps started fluently, and produced some of their best hockey of the season, retaining possession of the ball, and attacking with real intent.

Within the first 15 minutes Nick McLean won a short corner at the top of the D. This was executed neatly, and stopped illegally by the West Herts player. A penalty stroke was awarded. Russell Timms showed courage to take the flick, and was unlucky to strike the inside of the post.

Supported by a travelling contingent, Harps continued to produce some breathtaking hockey. Once again a short corner was won and this time Harps made the break though, skipper David Falk following up the initial save to scoop home.

West Herts, playing for pride in front of their home supports, moved through the gears and converted a short corner.

The game ebbed and flowed with Harps dominant in possession but West Herts counter-attacking from the breakdown. Eventually Harps got a lucky second, a deflected own goal by the West Herts defender, following a powerful centre from Falk.

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Leading 2-1 at the interval, Harps kept pressing but the efforts of the first half began to take their toll and West Herts were able to equalize.

Needing the points, Harps stepped up. Todd Baines and Mike Bowler started to get forward and James Evans began to feature. He started Harps’ third goal, bombing down the right hand side and crossing the ball. The West Herts keeper intercepted it but failed to clear, Mclean nudged the ball clear to Falk, who tapped in his second from five yards.

With their noses in front, Harps hung on to secured the three points they needed. Alas there was to be a sting the tail. Moments after the game, reports started to filter in of the other results. A stunned silence filled the ground as Harps realised their heroic efforts on the day counted for little as they found themselves sunk by results elsewhere.

After the game, Falk said: “It’s been a rollercoaster of a season this year. There have been ups and down, twists and turns, but now the ride has ended and I feel sick. The boys were up for it today, you could see that, but the league tells no lies.

“We lost 12 games this season. That’s the issue. We need to strengthen, we need to keep the spirit and we need to commit. But that’s for another day, right now I’m just bitterly disappointed.”