Harper an­swers SOS from United

As­sis­tant boss calls on ‘mate’ from Read­ing days

Harefield Gazette - - SPORT - By Jon Batham tms-sport@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

Harper was shown the door by Con­fer­ence South strug­glers Bas­ingstoke last week and, wea­ried by their rel­e­ga­tion bat­tle, he con­tem­plated start­ing his sum­mer hol­i­days early be­fore de­cid­ing to drop United as­sis­tant boss Tris­tan Lewis a line.

Know­ing of Harper’s qual­ity from his six years on the coach­ing staff with the Roy­als, Lewis was quick to re­spond with an SOS to the for­mer Premier­ship mid­fielder to help United in their own bat­tle to beat the drop, which took a blow on Satur­day as ti­tle favourites Eastleigh smashed in five with­out re­ply at York Road.

“I was on non-con­tract at Bas­ingstoke and when the new man­ager came in the three of us on non-con­tract were told ‘see you later’. Straight away we were off,” he said

“It had been a dif­fi­cult sea­son at Bas­ingstoke and there is only re­ally a month of it left, so I half wanted to write it off and start again pre-sea­son.

“So Tris­tan, who is still a mate of mine, was the only per­son I texted and I de­cided if he said no or didn’t re­ply then that was it I wasn’t go­ing to bother.

“But he said ‘yes, come down and do what you can do’.”

The now 35-year-old made a strong first im­pres­sion with a worldy of a goal – his first in more than two years – dur­ing his re­cent de­but off the bench in a de­feat to land­lords Maiden­head.

How­ever, Harper will not be bang­ing on man­ager Gary Hay­lock door to nail down a start­ing shirt. He is in fact happy to reprise his cameo role on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

“I’ve said if I play I play, if I don’t I don’t,” he added.

“I’m just go­ing to sup­port the boys, do my best and give my all in any way, shape or form I can.

“I’m not ex­pect­ing to come in here and play. I know I scored and did well against nst Maiden­head, but I’m not ot ex­pect­ing to start the nex­txt game. These guys have ve been fight­ing all sea­son, n, so I will just do what I can, get around the boys ys and be pos­i­tive.”

Else­where, in thehe South­ern League ue Divi­sion One Cen­tral, l, North­wood came from m be­hind on Satur­day to clinch a 2-1 vic­tory at Pot­ters Bar Town.

Uxbridge had less luck as Matty Woods’ sec­ond-half goal was s a mere con­so­la­tion in a 3-1 loss to Kings Lan­g­ley.

AFC Hayes se­cured a de­served three points with a 3-1 Com­bined Coun­ties Premier Divi­sion win over Red­hill at Farm Park.

n RE­UNION: (Top) James Harper has joined Hayes & Yeading United and old friend Tris­tan Lewis (right)

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