Harefield knocked out of FA Vase despite valiant performance

Tash Jordan was MOM for the Hares Tash Jordan was MOM for the Hares

For the second week running Harefield United escaped the pressure of their League campaign and travelled away for a cup tie, this time to Colney Heath of the Spartan League Premier Division in the prestigious FA Vase, writes Harefield Chairman Gary South.

The Heath currently sit pointless in the division above the Hares but have successfully played two rounds of the FA Cup at home and entertain Burgess Hill of the Isthmian Premier in the next round.

Storms were forecast and as the teams took the pitch the heavens opened and the travelling Hares' supporters huddled for shelter against what was dubbed Hurricane Jamie. Captained by the evergreen Cristian Barrett, making his first start of the season replacing absent skipper Sean Mangan, the game started with possession equally shared in the difficult conditions. Harefield had the first chance of the game on twelve minutes when Tash Jordan attacked on the left flank, winning a corner, quickly taken by Adam Willis who pulled it back only for centre back Rowan Larrington to place the ball just wide of the mark.

Again the away side continued to force the ball forward through the midfield, with Jordan on the left making a short pass to Luke Baldwin who put Rob Graham through on goal, only for the centre forward to side foot a tame shot straight at the keeper.

Colney Heath got back into the game, compelling Harefield to defend deeply. Barrett was fouled in the box and the referee Mr. Trinder waved play on, for Hares' keeper Jacob Ballheimer to make a fine save to his left, tipping the ball out for a corner. The resultant kick saw the ball drilled across the face of the goal only for wing back Steven Green to clear the ball off the line..

Just before half time left wing back Elliot Dobbs received a dead leg in a fifty fifty challenge, forcing Hares manager Jason Shaw to make an early substitution, replacing the injured Dobbs with Jason Richards. A minute later Colney attacked on their left, switching the ball to the right of the penalty box, the ball was played back in leaving an easy tap in for Jack Woods. One nil to the home side at half time.

Five minutes into the second half Harefield number nine Graham's left footed shot was parried wide by the home keeper, Willis's in-swinging corner looked to be going in the top left corner only for it to hit the roof of the net. Green was booked for a block and then a Colney defender received a yellow card for a foul on Baldwin.

The quickly taken Willis free kick saw Graham, Barrett and Jordan all fail to follow the ball in. The game was pretty much one way traffic by now, with Colney Heath predictably employing time wasting tactics. Ballheimer between the sticks for the Hares didn't have a save to make all half.

Harefield were getting chance after chance but not making the most of them. Seldyn Grant blasted a couple of shots over the bar and after fifty six minutes a Willis volley from deep just skimmed the cross bar. It seemed only a matter of time before United scored a well deserved equaliser.

On seventy five minutes Shaw made his final two substitutions, replacing Graham with last week's five goal hero Olu Akinola and centre back Blaise Riley-Snow with Sam Shaw in midfield. Four minutes later Jordan had only the keeper to beat after seemingly having been fouled in the penalty area only for the shot to be pushed wide. Immediately after from the corner kick he clashed with the home keeper in a fifty fifty challenge and his effort was cleared off the line.

Into time added on and Colney were wasting more precious seconds, Harefield were awarded a free kick, there were no footballs available and the home players and officials were making no effort to retrieve one. Eventually Harefield unused substitute Joe Willis fetched a ball from a tree, the ball was thrown back for the Hares to restart the game and a Colney substitute was booked for palming away the ball to prevent the kick from being taken.

Harefield threw all ten outfield players into the Colney box, goalie Ballheimer took the kick, the ball was played across the goal line with three Harefield players failing to put their foot in and tap the ball over the line. Mr. Trinder blew full time and Harefield were left to rue their missed chances. The home players and officials all agreed that Harefield should have won but goals make wins and Colney Heath remain in both the FA Cup and Vase.

Next Saturday Harefield are away to Ampthill Town, scene of a five -one victory on the last day of last season, looking to restart their League campaign with some points on the board. The Under 18s play at home in the Allied Counties Premier League on Monday night and on Thursday the reserves are at home with a Suburban League fixture.

Harefield man of the Match. Tash Jordan.

HUFC team. Ballheimer, Dobbs, Green, Barrett (capt), Larrington, Riley-Snow, Jordan, Baldwin, Graham, Grant, A. Willis. Subs Richards, S.Shaw, Akinola and Clarke, J. Willis (unused).

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