Harefield United go down to defeat in first home game of the season

Hares' man of the match Paul Underwood Hares' man of the match Paul Underwood

The Hares started the weekend questioning the legitimacy of the previous Saturday's result against Enfield Borough as it transpired the North London club were not affiliated to the Middlesex FA at the time of the fixture, writes Harefield United FC chairman Gary South.

Whilst that is a matter for the Spartan League to determine, United were to entertain a strong Buckingham side, unchanged since putting eight past a hapless Codicote on the opening day of the season. Manager Jason Shaw made four changes to his starting line up from last week for the Hares' home debut in this season's campaign on the Preston Park carpet.

It was Harefield who came out of the blocks fastest, attacking from the start and after three minutes captain Sean Mangan scored a powerful header from a Sam Shaw corner to put the Hares one up and in the driving seat. The home side continued to attack, with both Tash Jordan and Aaron McLeish coming close in the first half, whilst at the other end Hares number one Jacob Ballheimer made some telling saves to preserve Harefield's lead.

On twenty seven minutes Athletic's number seven, Ben Acquaye attacked on the right flank and slotted home a rebound from about eight yards out to equalise. From the restart the Hares attacked relentlessly and on thirty two minutes the industrious McLeish struck a right footed goal bound shot only for it to be disallowed after defender Will Holland followed the ball into the net and was judged to be offside.

With the score level at the break, Buckingham started the second half the brightest of the two teams and on fifty one minutes Robbie Carter waltzed through a half asleep home defence to put the visitors two one up.

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The Hares' manager was quick to make changes, bringing on the experienced Adam Willis for young midfielder Sam Shaw after sixty three minutes and seven minutes later a like for like swap, replacing the unfortunate not to score McLeish with centre forward Robert Graham.

The substitutions didn't have the desired effect and two minutes later Chris Stapleton headed a cross into the Harefield goal to put the visitors three one ahead and it was game over for the Hares.

Throughout the game, Buckingham centre forward Stapleton had been pestering the referee to book the Harefield captain Mangan but because of this unsporting persistence he refused to give the defender a possibly deserved second yellow card. One last throw of the dice saw manager Shaw replace defender Holland with pacy forward Jason Richards but it was to no avail.

Ninety minutes of action on a hot August Saturday saw the Hares remain, like that popular TV quiz show, pointless and next week they travel to Cambridgeshire to attempt to kick off their season at newcomers St. Neots Town Reserves.

Harefield Man of the Match: A welcome return for fit again slimline midfielder Paul Underwood.

HUFC team Ballheimer, Dodds, Green, McCorkell, Holland, Mangan (captain), Jordan, S.Shaw, McLeish, Underwood, Riley-Snow. Subs Graham, A.Willis, Richards and J. Willis, Baldwin (unused).

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