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Heartbreak for Newark Town as they suffer play-off final defeat despite late rally

It was heartbreak for Newark Town as their hopes of promotion were ended despite a late rally.

The Blues were beaten 2-1 by Harrowby United in the United Counties League Division One play-off final on Saturday in front of a bumper crowd of 982 at the Newark Sports Village.

Harry Allcock’s brace proved the difference, despite Ryan Smith’s header giving the Blues late hope.

Ryan Smith netted Newark's late consolation. Photo: Rob Currell
Ryan Smith netted Newark's late consolation. Photo: Rob Currell

But as the full-time whistle blew it was the Arrows who had booked their place in step five, with Lewis Chambers’ missed penalty leaving the hosts wondering what might have been.

Prior to kick off it was a tough contest to call as Newark, who ended the league campaign third, had beaten Dunkirk 3-2 in their semi-final a week earlier while fifth-place Harrowby had left second-place Clipstone with an emphatic 4-1 victory.

Opportunities were at a premium in the first half, although the Blues were offered the chance to take the lead from the penalty spot in the 20th minute after Chambers was hacked down by Tom Harris.

The Town striker placed the ball but, despite sending stopper Jake Frestle the wrong way, saw his strike fly the wrong side of the crossbar.

The visitors were forced to pick up scraps after long free kicks were repelled by the Newark back line, Jesse Anderson, Tom Harris and Elliot King all firing well over from the edge of the penalty area.

In response, Chambers saw a hopeful 20-yarder comfortably held by Frestle.

As the opening half looked to be heading for stalemate Harrowby attacker Allcock stunned the hosts as he stooped low to meet Anderson’s delivery and power a diving header beyond Eddie Cooper in the first minute of time added on.

The Blues began the second half with George Asplin’s low free kick forcing a save from Frestle before all-action Allcock doubled United’s advantage.

Cutting in from the left he skipped a challenge before firing high into the Town net.

Back came the hosts, with Saw Wright asking questions on the left.

Cutting inside he curled one effort over before seeing a similar strike held by the Harrowby keeper.

Ryan Smith was introduced and saw a header saved low before an angled left footed effort failed to hit the target.

In a break from the Town attacks, Cooper was called into action as he made the save of the match, tipping Gurney’s drive wide.

Appeals for a second spot kick were waved away after Jackson Buckthorp appeared to have his trailing leg taken away from him by a wild swipe.

Town had hope with six minutes to go when they reduced the arrears.

A pumped ball into the box saw Asplin control a flick on on his chest before dinking the ball over the crowd of Arrows players in the box with a neat dink off the outside of his boot, Smith gratefully nodding into the inviting net.

But hopes of a leveller failed to materialise with Frestle on hand to collect up hopeful through balls into the Harrowby box.

TOWN: Cooper, Biggs, Andersen (Randall 61), Lewis (Braithwaite 61), Bartle, Lloyd (R. Smith 61), Wright (T. Smith 68), Hales, Chambers, Devlin (Buckthorp), Asplin.

HARROWBY: Frestle, Marsh (Lee 83), Gurney (Gray 86), Anderson, Yenibertiz, Dee, Smith, Harper, King (Daramy 89), Allcock, Harris (Hart 66); Subs (not used): Kankam.

Att: 983.

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