Thurlow Nunn League

first division south

HARWICH gained an excellent three points on their travels on Saturday when they ventured into north London to take on improved Hackney Wick.

They sealed a fine victory with a lone Sean Bartlett goal shortly after the half-time interval.

Harwich included new centre-half Hayden Dutch, recently signed from Stanway Rovers, and he turned in an excellent performance alongside Dan Clark.

Hackney were buoyant after a fine victory against Frenford in midweek but found the new-look Shrimpers in very determined mood and it was clear from the early stages that there were not going to be many goals, with both defences looking dominant.

Chances were few in the opening half, with probably the best falling to Connor McLaughlin, who blasted over from close range after a fine inter-passing move through the home defence.

Harwich could possibly have had a penalty when Bartlett appeared to be brought down from behind when through on goal.

The Shrimpers also looked more threatening when they swapped over Jake Kioussis and Jake Plane to different wings, with Kioussis far more effective on his natural left side.

Harwich got a sensational start to the second half when they scored the all-important, decisive goal five minutes into the half.

The Shrimpers gained a free-kick 25 yards from goal.

Kioussis whipped in a hard, low shot which the home keeper spilled and the ever-alert Bartlett raced in quickly to shoot home.

Hackney raised their game immediately and made two changes to their forward line.

Harwich also withdrew Ryan McGibbon, who, having been booked in the first half, was walking a tightrope with the referee, given his competitive midfield workrate.

Harry Banner came on as a replacement.

The home side threw a lot of players forward to try and get back in the game and certainly looked dangerous down their right flank.

Fortunately, the Harwich defence was in resolute mood and certainly worked very hard to keep their solitary lead intact.

When they did get exposed, Harwich were indebted to goalkeeper Sam Felgate, who made three excellent saves to complete a very competent performance.

With 15 minutes left, Harwich withdrew Kioussis and introduced another debutant, Suieiman Bakalandwa.

He took up the role of lone striker, with Bartlett dropping back to replace Kioussis on the left.

The new striker showed incredible pace and caused the Hackney defence problems from the outset.

Two late corners for Hackney were competently dealt with by the Harwich defence and they celebrated the final whistle, grateful for three more points on their route back up the table.

It would be hard to pick a man of the match as all 13 players worked their socks off.

Nicky Palmer and Felgate certainly produced exceptional performances.

Praise too to the management duo of Michael Wallace and Gary Kioussis.

They quickly saw the need to swap Jake Kioussis and Plane midway through the opening half to improve the performance and also to substitute McGibbon midway through the second half to prevent him getting into further trouble with the referee and Harwich going down to ten men.

It is a hard consideration to substitute one of your best players but this proved to be an excellent management decision.

Tomorrow, Harwich are at home to top-of-the-table contenders Coggeshall United (kick-off 3pm).

Coggeshall are on a long winning run of results at the moment and have climbed quickly into a promotion challenging position.

It should be a great game between two inform teams.