Ugly melee mars Harpenden Town’s Herts Senior Cup win

Kyle McLeish scored against both Oxhey Jets and Sawbridgeworth Town but was also sent off.

Kyle McLeish scored against both Oxhey Jets and Sawbridgeworth Town but was also sent off. Picture: KARYN HADDON - Credit: Archant

Ugly scenes marred Harpenden Town’s progression to the next round of the Herts Senior Cup against Sawbridgeworth Town.

Harpenden eventually won 3-1 with goals from James Ewington, Kyle McLeish and Charlie Gould but with five minutes to go, a goalmouth scramble involving McLeish and the Sawbridgeworth goalkeeper turned in to a huge melee.

Hands were raised from both sides and it took the officials five minutes to gain control.

Trouble also erupted among spectators.

When the dust settled the two players, McLeish and the keeper, were shown red cards.

The game itself was pretty uneventful for the opening 45 minutes with neither team controlling the game.

That changed on 51 minutes when Ewington picked up a long ball over the top of the defence and rounded the keeper.

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Four minutes later David Keenleyside slipped in McLeish and he fired low into the corner.

The visitors pulled one back shortly after with a tight shot near the byline getting past the keeper and it took Gould’s effort in stoppage time to seal the victory, latching on to a pass from Jack Nevin.

Manager Danny Plumb said: “It was nice to use the squad and rest some key players and great to get through to the next round.

“I am just unhappy with the way it ended with the embarrassing behaviour.”

It was in complete contrast with Saturday’s 2-1 win over Oxhey Jets in the Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division, a result which moves Harpenden into second.

It took a last-minute showstopper of a goal though from McLeish to clinch Town’s 11th game without defeat, the speedy youngster beating his marker before curling a beauty around the keeper.

Oxhey had taken the lead in the first half through a John Smith header but Steve O’Reilly levelled from distance.

Plumb was delighted with the result, not least because he had five first-team regulars missing.

He said: “These were enforced changes and to play below par and win in 89 minutes shows the whole squad has character and courage.”

Harpenden host London Tigers in the league on Saturday while they travel to Leighton Town in the Dudley Latham Memorial Cup on Tuesday.