Last Saturday saw Wigton travel to Harlow Hill for their first ever clash against Premier League opposition in the League Challenge up first round. After a poor result the week previous against Dalton this fixture was hardly the tie the Gaffa would have wanted to try and get the team back to winning ways. With Tink, Day,
After some initial concern as to whether the game would go ahead due to strong winds Wigton started the game the brighter of the two teams. Wigton knew from their league fixture last season against Harlowâ€™s second team that in order to defend well they would have to play a high defensive line when playing up hill against the strong wind. The up hill slope and strong wind however would also hold the ball up and allow Wigton to use their pace in the counter attack, these tactics would prove to serve them well during the game.
Wigton were quickly on the offensive and created their hosts a number of early problems as the pace of Trueman and Chris Lone unsettled the fairly sluggish and unorganised Harlow back line. None more so when a Harlow defender was forced into playing back towards goal only to see his back pass slide past his stranded keeper, hit the post, then roll across the Harlow goal line before the keeper was able to rush back and gather the ball up.
After approximately 20 minutes Wigton were able to take the lead when Jhunâ€™s shot from just inside the area rebounded off the keeper before being turned in from close range by Chris Lone. Chris was also unlucky to not double his tally for the day and Wigtonâ€™s lead when a looping shot came back off the cross bar.
Harlow tried to respond and use the wind to their advantage and they were close to getting an equaliser when a Harlow striker burst through the Wigton defence only to be denied by Grimes who charged from his goal narrowing the angle and bravely saving at the feet of the Harlow forward.
Wigton continued to look composed in possession of the ball as they looked to pass through midfield however they were unfortunately pegged back when a long range effort was tamely fumbled by Grimes in similar fashion to that of the infamous Massimo Taibi of Man Utdâ€¦.the ball meekly dribbling from underneath his pot bellyâ€¦! If only heâ€™d had that 4th pork pie for breakfast after all and it would have been a different story.
Despite being knocked off their game for the next 10 minutes Wigton remained composed at the back for the remainder of the half as they restricted the home team from little other than speculative long range efforts. One however did look close but was well saved by Grimes as he turned a goal bound effort round the post.
The second half started the same way as the first as Wigton pressed for another goal however despite a spate of corners and near misses Harlow held firm and slowly began to come more into the game as they started to get more of a foot hold in midfield. Ryan unlucky to see an effort come back off the far post whilst the Harlow keeper saved well from another of his efforts that looked destined for the top corner.
The Gaffa looked to firm up the midfield and brought Chris Lone back into midfield as Ryan made way for Ebun up front. Chrisâ€™s work rate helped regain the upper hand in midfield however despite being the better team for the remainder of the game Wigton were unable to finish any of the half chances they created. In particular, a good opportunity from Ebun in a one on one situation saw the Harlow keeper save well.
The introduction of Trigger at right back for the â€œcardio vascular restrictedâ€ Adam Freeman also helped reassure the Wigton defence as he looked solid and composed alongside the unruffled Shatwell, Jack and Arron.
Unfortunately, despite all their dominance Wigton were unable to find a winner and the game went into extra time.
As the game restarted the lads again put the Harlow back line under pressure and it wasnâ€™t long before the superior fitness of the Wigton team began to show. Tired Harlow legs exposed a gap down the right side which Jhun was able to exploit before a shot across goal found the far corner of the Harlow netâ€¦possibly with the assistance of a Harlow foot.
Harlowâ€™s heads quickly went down as they knew that having not looked a threat in front of goal for most of the game it would be hard to get back into the game. Harlow eagerly tried to bounce back until Scott found some space down the left before scoring the goal of the game with a great finish into the far top corner to put an end to any Harlow hopes of a comeback.
Further goals in the second half from Jhon, who got his second of the game with a good header from a Trueman cross and Trueman himself, was also able to get his name on the score sheet with a brave header in a race for the ball with the advancing keeper saw Wigton run out deserved winners with a 1-5 score line that justified their dominance of the game.
Next Saturday is the biggest game of the season to date as we face Westbrook in the divisional cup, a competition we performed well in last season being beaten finalists and probably this seasonâ€™s best chance of silverware.
A tough game definitely lies ahead though with Grimes, Jack, Ebun and Darryl all unavailable due to work or injury however the depth or the squad should still allow us to still field a strong team.