Football: Fabian Simms’ spot kick sends Harlow Town into cup final in thrilling penalty shootout

Football / Wed 20th Mar 2024 at 07:34am

Thurlow Nunn League Challenge Semi Final

Harlow Town 0 v 0 Long Melford (9-8 on pens)

By Ican Naci

FABIAN SIMMS was the penalty hero for Harlow Town as his spot-kick saw them past Long Melford and into the Thurlow Nunn League Challenge Cup Final.

In a game that threatened to boil over, Harlow Town found it challenging to break down the visitors – struggling to keep possession of the ball. Long Melford responded with counterattacks, looking to exploit the spaces. Despite this, Harlow defended stoutly while also posing a threat in response.

An early corner kick gave Harlow the chance to lead, with captain, James Folkes, narrowly heading the chance onto the crossbar.

A free kick was then awarded to Harlow in the dying embers of the first half which presented another opportunity to take the lead, but was shot over the bar.

As the second half of the game commenced, Harlow Town looked revitalized, passing the ball quickly between one another and pressing into the opposition’s final third. The visitors remained a strong threat, soaking the pressure and waiting to press on the counter.

A cross into the box by Long Melford’s Ryan Gibbs found Ben Judge, whose header was saved by the goalkeeper, James Pellin. Then, an early sign of a breakthrough came for Harlow Town with a chance in the final ten minutes of the game, only to be denied by the visitors’ goalkeeper. Harlow’s efforts to find the elusive goal were continually thwarted by impressive saves from the visitor’s goalkeeper.

The match, locked in a stalemate, eventually led to the nerve-shredding climax of a penalty shootout. Long Melford drew first blood, scoring the first penalty kick of the contest. Harlow Town’s first penalty kick was kept out however. Though, Harlow Town maintained their confidence, with captain Folkes consoling Jelliman after his attempt was denied.

The visitors continued to execute two flawless penalty kicks, then missing their fourth attempt of the contest, which inspired confidence and hope in Harlow, who then scored a series of eight perfect penalties.

With the contest tied at 8-8, Long Melford missed their tenth kick, taking the contest to sudden death. Wearing the number 19 shirt for Harlow Town, Fabian Simms walked up to the penalty spot with the weight of the entire match on his shoulders. The crowd watched in silence, erupting in celebration seconds later as Simms coolly slotted Harlow a place in the final.

Harlow Town have their next fixture league away on Saturday the 13th of March at 15:00 against Tower Hamlets.

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