Whaley Bridge 2
Harpur Hill 0
Whaley Bridge took a big step towards retaining the Hope Valley Premier League title with this win over Harpur Hill, which avenged a defeat on the first game of the season.
Harpur started well, with Shaun Doxey prominent in midfield, but they could only force one terrific save from James Tattersall in the Whaley goal.
After 20 minutes, things changed as Whaley took control with Rob Newton working well on the left wing and Dan Whelan, Paul Walker and Chris Wood solid at the back.
Ray Dwolitka was denied with a superb, one-handed save by Harpur’s Stuart Lumbert, and then a fierce Mick Ryan shot was cleared off the line by a Harpur defender as the first half ended goalless.
After the break, Whaley soon found the breakthrough they wanted when Ryan headed the ball for Paul Kelsall to flick home.
Harpur could not make any headway as Scott Dignan and Paul Kelsall took charge of midfield.
Bill Sutton made it 2-0 from the penalty spot after Ryan was pushed over, and Harpur had little response.
Considering what was at stake, the game was played in a good spirit and was an outstanding advertisement for the Hope Valley League.
George Langford had an outstanding debut for Whaley but, for his outstanding defending, Whaley’s man of the match was the dependable Chris Wood.
Whaley: J Tattersall, G Langford, D Whelan, C Wood, P Walker, W Sutton, S Dignan, P Kelsall, R Newton, M Ryan, R Dwolitka. Subs: D Christie, J Bailey, M Baldwin, L Schofield.