ENFIELD TOWN 2 HARROW BOROUGH 1
Harrow won’t be marching forward in the FA Cup this year as they did last, as their campaign came to a halt at the first stop, a difficult tie at fellow Bostik Premier side Enfield Town,
whose winner came just as it looked as if Borough had done enough to take them back to Earlsmead for a replay.
Despite Monday’s capitulation at Hendon, Steve Baker kept faith with the same starting eleven, on a warm afternoon at Donkey Lane. But early on it appeared that Harrow were still shell-shocked from Monday. Their passing continually broke down and the hosts dominated. Roberts turned on the edge of the box and fired over, before they went in front in the 11th minute. Blake got in on the left side of the Harrow defence, and Melvin Minter could only push away his low cross-shot. The ball rebounded off Thomas and into the net. Minter and his nearby defenders were adamant that Thomas had put the ball in with his hand, but referee Mr Marsh gave the goal despite loud protests.
Hall, playing at left-back because of the suspension of Arinse Uade, was having lots of trouble with the nippy Blake, who then set up Noto to fire wide. And Enfield should have doubled their lead when the ball was clipped across from the right and Roberts blazed over the bar. Harrow switched Hall to right-back, Shaun Preddie going to the other flank, immediately became more settled, and started to exert some pressure of their own. Charles Banya’s fine run to the right-hand by-line ended with a cross that was blocked, and good work by Mark McLeod then led to Banya crossing for Curtis Ujah to have a header tipped over by Wright. Harrow then had a succession of corners and finally a Michael Bryan cross that was netted by Anthony O’Connor, but he had clearly used his arm and indeed picked up a booking for attempted deception. O’Connor then freed himself on the left, crossing to the near post where Will Turl’s flick hit the arm of Blackman, but the defender was so close that he could not have had time to get his arm out of the way.
Blake headed over after Bartley’s long throw had come off a Harrow head, before a short corner routine saw Preddie return the ball to Bryan, whose cross-shot was held by Wright at the second attempt. The half ended with Parcell doing very well to stop O’Connor moving on to a long ball downfield.
Referee Marsh had spoken to the already-booked O’Connor, along with his captain, Ujah, after a hard tackle late in the first half, and when the second period began it looked as if the hosts were under instruction to try to get him dismissed. A couple of players rolled around after tackles by the Harrow no.11, but when Youngs did the theatricals after a challenge where no contact was made it was, frankly, both pitiful and embarrassing. Nevertheless, Steve Baker could see what was going on and in the 58th minute O’Connor came off and George Moore came on. Richard Pacquette had already been introduced for an injured Will Turl.
Harrow were having more and more of the play and on the hour they missed two glorious chances to level. First, Moore found Bryan, who got into the box and laid the ball to Paquette in the inside right channel. His shot flew past the post and the experienced striker will know that he simply had to hit the target. Then Banya made a fine break forward and slipped the ball to Pacquette. Bryan met his driven cross across the goal, but with too faint a touch and the ball screwed wide of the far post. Kurtis Cumberbatch then blazed wildly over from the edge of the box after Preddie’s long throw had given the hosts some difficulty.
Thomas threatened with a shot for Enfield but in the 74th minute Harrow equalised, as Bryan curled a sweet free-kick over the Enfield wall and past Wright’s right hand. This time it was Enfield’s turn to protest to the officials, possibly because they thought the free-kick was indirect.
But at this point the tide turned once more and Enfield again took charge. Rumens headed over from a corner, and Roberts’s near post cross was met by a header that drew an acrobatic save from Minter. Bartley headed wide from a free-kick as the hosts’ assault became an aerial one. With all Harrow substitutes on the field (Brian Testolin had replaced Cumberbatch in a third switch), when Hall pulled a hamstring, Borough were down to ten men for the closing minutes. And it was from that vacant right-back area that the winning goal emerged, in the 87th minute, a deep cross met by a powerful far post header by Thomas.
There was little time for Harrow to recover, although Moore poked a shot over from the edge of the box, and they were out. While there will be discussion about the legality of the opening goal, Harrow would do better to reflect that they were very much Enfield’s equals for the last 70 minutes of the match, and address why they made such a stuttering start. Next action is next Saturday when they host Merstham, also knocked out of the FA Cup today, in a league game.
ENFIELD TOWN: Joe Wright, Micky Parcell, Taylor McKenzie, Mario Noto, Darren Purse (sub Rob Bartley, 14 mins), Ryan Blackman (sub Jack Higgs, 70 mins), Dan Rumens (booked, 58 mins), Sam Youngs, Ryan Blake, Simon Thomas, Drew Roberts (sub George Beattie, 90 mins). Unused subs: George Quarrington-Carter, Jack Hockney, Kieran Cathline, John Kyriacou.
HARROW BOROUGH: Melvin Minter, Shaun Preddie, Howard Hall, Adam Richards, Curtis Ujah, Kurtis Cumberbatch (sub Brian Testolin, 67 mins), Charles Banya, Mark McLeod, Will Turl (sub Richard Pacquette, 37 mins; booked, 90 mins), Michael Bryan, Anthony O’Connor (booked, 29 mins; sub George Moore, 58 mins). Unused subs: Keval Patel, Alfie Cain, Tayo Davies-Coker.
Referee: Mr M Marsh
by Simon Grigor