It was a tough afternoon as Harlow had to fight hard to draw with Wroxham at Trafford Park. Goals from Tayla Handscombe, Fran Gamble and Ellie Manning were enough to salvage a point.
Both sides tried to get off to the best possible start but it was Harlow who looked better coming forward. They built the play up well but a deflected shot was comfortable for the keeper. Despite a slightly better start from the Hawks it was the hosts who got the opening goal. A corner was whipped in and flicked beyond Sarah Walker into the bottom corner by Grace Birchall. Neither side dominated in the middle but Wroxham soon doubled their lead in the 10th minute as Birchall got her brace. She found some space and slotted the ball well into the bottom corner.
Despite going 2-0 down, Harlow started to push for a way back into the game. Amy Nash did well to pick up the ball outside the box but her shot was just wide of the target before Kaydee King came close as her header was cleared off the line. The pressure paid off and Harlow pulled one back through Tayla Handscombe. She made a good run into the box and fired her shot low into the corner. The goal had given the Hawks confidence as they were almost level but Handscombe’s cross was gathered well by the keeper.
Grace Birchall was almost in for her hattrick but she dragged a shot just wide. Harlow were going through the motions as they sought an equaliser but Shannon Moloney’s effort from the edge of the box was comfortably taken by the keeper. 5-minutes later, Harlow were playing with 10 as Moloney was sin-binned. Wroxham took full advantage of the extra player as Grace Birchall cut inside but fired her shot over before they found themselves 3-1 up. Sarah Walker initially did well to tip a shot onto the crossbar but Laura Dawson reacted quickest to tap it past Walker. Right on the half-time whistle, Wroxham had another chance but the shot was fired over.
It was a quick start to the second-half for Harlow as Amy Nash found some space on the edge of the box but her shot was fired just wide. Wroxham tried to create a chance but a cross ran out of play.
Harlow continued to dominate as they looked for another way back into the game. Ash Deacon tried her luck with a shot but her effort was just over before from a Wroxham corner, Kaydee King started an attack. Georgia Raby made a bursting up through the middle and feed the ball to Fran Gamble but her shot was just over. A couple of minutes later, it was game on as Harlow found a second. Fran Gamble lifted the ball over the keeper as she got on the scoresheet.
There were shouts for handball for Harlow but the referee waved away all the calls before Sarah Walker pulled off a huge save to deny Wroxham a fourth. The Hawks continued to push as they sought an equaliser once again. A corner was whipped in but headed behind by Kaydee King before a cross fell into the box but neither Olivia Steele or Georgia Box could get a shot off. As the game reached the final 10-minutes, Wroxham tried to kill off the game but a shot was fired wide. Fran Gamble had another chance but her shot was over once again before Georgia Raby also fired over the bar. Olivia Steele came so close to an equalising goal but her header rattled the crossbar in the 88th-minute.
The pressure paid off as Ellie Manning brought the Hawks level. She controlled the ball well before sending a thunderous shot past the keeper to what looked like the goal to salvage Harlow a point. In added time, the game became frantic as both sides sought a winner. Raby tried her luck from distance but it was comfortable for the keeper and the game was brought to an end.
For her outstanding effort and point-saving goal, Ellie Manning was the player of the match.
Speaking after the game, she said “We definitely weren’t at our best in the first half. They got their goals in the first-half [which put them ahead] but in the second-half, after a talking to at the break, we started to play our own football again and scored two good goals. The gaffer made some good subs which really changed the game.”
[On battling for a point] “We couldn’t lose today. With people saying we have this target on our back, we couldn’t afford to lose the game. We want to win the league so getting a point in a game like this was very important. We could have even gone on to win the game in the last 5 to 10-minutes.”
[On Royston at home] “We absolutely love playing at home. It really suits our style of football. We played those a few years ago so we know what they are all about but it will be nice to get through to the next round. We want to prove ourselves about higher opposition so hopefully we can beat Royston and make that happen.”
Photos: Matt Bacon (@bacon0butty)