The men’s 1st XI completed back-to-back promotions with a hard-fought 2-1 win at Harborne. The victory puts us eight points clear at the top of the Western Conference, and although second-place Richmond have two games in hand they now cannot catch us.
Matt Murphy opened the scoring from a short corner on seven minutes and Hugh Robinson doubled the lead in the 36th minute. Harborne pulled one back through a penalty stroke in the third quarter.
We started the journey to Harborne knowing that if we took three points we would wrap up the West Conference title with one game to go. However, Harborne were fresh off the back of three points away at Richmond so we knew a tough game was ahead. A nervous first quarter saw Matt Murphy settle the league leaders nerves with a drag flick through the GK to put us 1-0 up. Murphy hit the post off another corner and the second quarter then saw a better performance by us as we created good chances for Matt Cornwell and Louis Wright. However, we were unable to convert and were thankful for Josh Doble in goal who kept the home side a bay with some good short corner saves.
The second half couldn’t have started in better fashion, as some neat interplay down the right hand side, saw Hugh Robinson, Matt Murphy and Charlie Lamb combine as Hugh Robinson finished the move to make it 2-0. With the league title in reach, our performance dipped and Harborne dominated the remainder off the game. In the 46th minute, Harborne were awarded a questionable penalty stroke after Doble tackled a forward in front of goal. They capitalised on this to make the score 2-1 with 24 minutes to play. Harborne created a number of chances which flew past the post and perhaps Wright should have sealed the title with five minutes left but neither side could change the score line. A real scrap of a game but a strong defensive display from us meant full time 2-1 and the league was won. The win secures back to back league titles for the squad which owe a great amount of thanks to coaches George Pettitt and Sam Naismith.