HARLESTON Magpies Ladies were staring down the barrel of relegation just six weeks ago, but victory over leaders Sevenoaks at Weybread on Sunday (12.30pm) would take their shock Conference East title challenge down to the final weekend of the season.
By captain Louisa Greenacre’s own admission, the chance of her side overturning a six-point and 16-goal deficit with just two matches of the campaign left is highly unlikely, but to reach a final day shootout would be testament to Harleston’s resurgence since the turn of the year.
Magpies won just two of nine games prior to the winter break, but a 2-1 defeat of Horsham on their return to outdoor action on February 5 marked the beginning of a seven-match winning streak that not only quelled their relegation fears but saw them embark on a remarkable rise up the table.
“Our goal is to keep the unbeaten run going until the end of the season,” said Greenacre. “We are not so unrealistic that we think we will be able to overturn the goal difference.”
The regular appearance of Emma Lee-Smith in a Harleston shirt has helped them surge up the table, but Magpies have succeeded on weeks without her.
Youngsters such as Sarah Brook, just 15, and Emily Wilford have also aided Harleston’s improved form, while the experienced players have stepped up to the plate.
“It’s been a real team effort,” added Greenacre. “The majority of experienced players work tirelessly week in, week out.”
Magpies suffered a 2-1 loss in the reverse fixture, back on November 21 — Harleston’s only defeat from their last 10 matches.
Magpies Ladies (from): Greenacre, C Lee-Smith, Warnes, E Lee-Smith, Cranmer, Francis, Sumner, Harrison, Lund, Clark, Blyth, Howland, Brook, Wilford.
n Tomorrow (1.30pm), Harleston Magpies Men will look to end their winless run of four matches and confirm their Men’s Conference East status.
Their opponents are bottom side Sevenoaks, a team Magpies thrashed 10-0 on November 20.
Magpies Men (from): Harms, Ling, A Hipwell, Baynes, S Hipwell, Martin, Gill, Furlong, Fanger, Wright, Leate, Bedwell, Wheelhouse, Sitch, Bale.