Harefield win thriller as two players see red for 'head butts' amid scuffle

Joe Willis was the scorer of the winning goal Joe Willis was the scorer of the winning goal

Harefield United rounded off their pre season preparations with a thrilling 3-2 win today over Bovingdon at Preston Park. 

The Hares, who finished in 8th place in the Spartan South Midlands League Division One last season, are gunning for promotion this time round under manager Jason Shaw, and they ran out deserving winners thanks to goals from Tash Jordan, Robert Graham and Joe Willis. 

It was Bovingdon though who started the brighter, with one of their midfielders forcing Harefield goakeeper Jacob Ballheimer into a good reflex save from distance.

However, ten minutes later, the Hares wasted a glorious chance to take the lead. Aaron McLeish, who was the club's top scorer last season, was put through on goal and with just the keeper to beat, the striker curled his effort just wide of the target when he really should have done better.

Harefield would rue that missed chance though, as Bovingdon took the lead moments later.  Adam Willis was dispossessed in midfield, and having been released inside the penalty area, Bovingdon's number 9 calmly slotted the ball home to make it 0-1 to the visitors. 

Harefield didn't let their heads drop though, and after a free kick, the ball bounced to Will Holland, whose powerful effort was straight at Bovingdon's goalkeeper. 

Minutes later and the Hares went even closer, as Cash Jordan's curling effort from distance rattled the crossbar.

Harefield had grown into the game as the half went on and they deservedly equalised just after the half-hour mark. Steven Green's cross into the box was laid off to Jordan, who rattled the ball home to level the scores up.

The Hares didn't rest on their laurels though, with a quick free-flowing counter attack ending with Elliot Dobbs curling a shot just wide on the stroke of half time.

The second half started as the first ended, with a neat move from Harefield ending with Luke Baldwin forcing a low save from Bovingdon's goalkeeper. 

It was that man Baldwin who had another chance just a few moments later, as his header from a free kick went just over the bar.

But Harefield were to rue their missed chances, as it was Bovingdon who retook the lead against the run of play close to the hour mark, with the ball being fired home from close range.

Bovingdon weren't too far away from adding a third minutes later, as their striker's chipped effort went just wide, with Harefield keeper Ballheimer stranded.  

Five minutes later and Harefield wasted a good opportunity to get back on level terms. Despite suspicions of offside, substitute Joe Willis was released inside the area, but his low shot went just wide when he really should have hit the target.

Luckily for Harefield though, Bovingdon didn't take notice of that warning and the Hares were back on level terms just seconds later, in a frantic few minutes of action. Substitute Robert Graham was played through on goal and the striker showed great composure to round the Bovingdon keeper and slot the ball home to level the scores up. 

Having got back on level terms, Harefield then went in front for the first time in the match just moments later. Substitute Graham was having a big impact on the game after coming on as a substitute and he did terrifically well to dispossess Bovingdon's midfielder, before playing a fantastic through ball to release fellow sub Joe Willis, who calmly swept the ball home to make it 3-2 to Harefield. 

But as the game neared its conclusion, things took a turn for the worse on the pitch as both sides were reduced to ten men, following an ugly scuffle in front of the watching supporters. 

Bovingdon's number 10 reacted angrily to a tackle from Harefield substitute Jason Richards, with both appearing to head butt each other in a heated exchange. The game was halted for a few minutes to let temperatures on the pitch cool down, before the referee then elected to show both players a red card. 

That proved to be one of the last pieces of action, with Harefield running out 3-2 winners in a thoroughly entertaining game at Preston Park on Breakspear Road.

The Hares kick off their league campaign with a trip to Enfield Borough next week. Their first home game of the season is against Baldock Town on 12 August.

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