Wednesday 11th April 2012 ko 6.25pm
Northants Combination Premier Division
HARPOLE 5 (Clarke 15 18 Markie 55 80 Inns 97)
MILTON 2 (Snooks 46 Cook 65) Billingham sent off 54 (2nd booking) Snooks missed penalty 84
Att 71 (h/c)
This small village in Northamptonshire is not to be confused with the Harpole in Suffolk, immortalised in “Viz,” that famously had Newcastle restaurateur Abdul Latif as its Lord of the Manor! This version is more sedate, there’s a scarecrow festival each September to raise funds for the local church! In the distance you can see the outskirts of Northampton itself.
The agrarian theme continues at the local playing fields, with farmland as their backdrop. There’s a well-appointed clubhouse, with fascinating memorabilia of the clubs highly successful past in the Northants League. There’s two pitches with a cricket square between them; our game took place on the pitch furthest from the clubhouse. Unlike its brother, it sports a skeleton dugout block, and removable posts and rails. On a bright, if chilly evening it was a pleasant place to watch an excellent game.
With Harpole pushing for the title and Milton worrying near the bottom, it was surprising that Milton opted to play the first few minutes with 10 men, despite having a full complement of substitutes. Michael Betts soon arrived, but I had no other reason to note his name again as Harpole raced into a two goal lead. As if to add injury to insult, Milton keeper Piotr Hajemo took six studs to his ribs from his own defender as Stuart Clarke slid in to guide the ball home.
Callum Snooks pulled one back for Milton immediately after the restart, but Glenn Billingham’s red card for kicking an opponent cost his teammates any chance of a way back into the game. Not that at the time you’d have noticed, as Milton still found it within themselves to miss a penalty! There was an exchange of goals, but Harpole only made the advantage count when their visitors visibly tired. Shaun Markie collected his second, before fellow substitute Darren Inns’ thunderbolt half-volley provided a fitting coda.