BEDFONT SPORTS 2 HARROW BOROUGH 3
A potential banana skin avoided, though not without something of a scare.
Harrow dominated this tie against their Combined Counties League opponents and yet, with eight minutes to go, two defensive howlers meant that they were trailing. Two late goals ensured that the better side on the night prevailed, and earned Borough a Second Round tie away to Hendon.
Steve Baker selected a strong side for the game, with Will Turl making his first start for a few weeks having overcome his injury. Curtis Ujah was missing, so Shaun Preddie dropped back to a central defensive berth alongside Adam Richards.
Harrow settled quickly on the excellent 3G surface and were soon exchanging quick passes. Turl’s early knock-down allowed Alfie Cain to let fly with a low 25-yarder that Pickford dived to save. Michael Bryan then put a free-kick narrowly over, and Anthony O’Connor should have done better when Richards headed down Charles Banya’s corner, but he missed the ball altogether. But Bedfont had threatened through a Riggs shot that went just wide, and it was they who opened the scoring in the 21st minute. The Harrow defence should not have allowed the ball to be crossed from the right, and should have cut out that cross with comfort. However, the ball was allowed to reach Riggs at the far post, and he drove it in.
That unnerved Harrow for a while. Melvin Minter had to come off his line rapidly to deny Harris, who had burst through a square Borough defence, and George Moore moved smartly from left to right to intercept Sinclair, who’d been allowed in on goal by a Richards mistake. However, at the other end, Harrow were inches from levelling when Preddie rose above the home defence to send a powerful header against the bar from Cain’s curling free-kick. Sinclair had the ball in the net for Bedfont but was denied by the assistant’s offside flag. As the half drew to a close, Harrow put together a decent passing move that ended with Bryan cutting inside to shoot low, Pickford saving. And the growing Borough pressure led to a 43rd minute equaliser, as good work by Cain and Banya slipped in O’Connor who ran through to calmly beat Pickford.
Mark McLeod made a brave block from a Sinclair shot early in the second period, before Harrow began to dominate. Substitute Richard Pacquette spun sharply onto Bryan’s pass and shot narrowly wide. Pickford fumbled a Banya shot but recovered to grab the ball, and then made a brave save at Banya’s feet. Bryan’s low cross just eluded Pacquette at the far post, and Moore’s clever pass found Banya, whose cross went just over Pacquette’s head. Cain bent a shot just wide as Harrow dominated, but when Ujah is missing, the Harrow defence can lack organisation. There was a warning of this with a near own goal by Arinse Uade after a major misunderstanding with Minter, and in the 61st minute, when O’Connor lost possession inside his own half, the central defence opened up and Riggs was able to put Bedfont back in front.
Harrow showed good character in immediately getting back on the front foot. O’Connor’s angled shot was deflected past the far post, Pickford batted away Banya’s shot, and a scramble in the Bedfont goalmouth ended with Bryan’s shot cleared off the line.
Moody shot straight at Minter when Bedfont made a rare foray upfield, before Banya and Pacquette made space for Cain, who shot wide. Pacquette turned the wrong way, into a defender, when given a half-chance by Banya and another substitute, Reis Stanislaus, who himself was denied by a diving Pickford. Cain then shot too close to Pickford, who turned the ball over. Kurtis Cumberbatch replaced Cain in the 79th minute, and three minutes later set up the Harrow equaliser, his deep corner nodded down from beyond the far post by Preddie to Richards, who had the room to control the ball and shoot home.
Harrow kept their feet on their opponents’ throats, and in the 86th minute got the winner, a superb individual effort by Bryan. Picking up the ball on the right side of the home penalty area, he beat a defender, cut the ball back onto his left foot and slammed it across Pickford into the far corner.
Harrow hung on with comfort, indeed Pacquette should have added a fourth, heading over Cumberbatch’s cross at the far post. The win gives Harrow a trip to Hendon in the next round. Next up for Borough is a return to league action, when newly-promoted Brightlingsea Regent visit Earlsmead this Saturday.
BEDFONT SPORTS: Rourke Pickford, Kyle Lemon, Julius Mngadi, Luke Ruddick (sub Chris Spencer, h-t), Joe Jackson (booked, 27 mins), Jamie Richards, Connor Moody, Simo Mbonkwi, Lewis Sinclair (sub Jake Hicks, 56 mins), Scott Harris (sub Jacob Lamb, h-t), Matt Riggs. Unused subs: Tim Pitt, Michael Kinsella.
HARROW BOROUGH: Melvin Minter, George Moore, Arinse Uade, Adam Richards, Shaun Preddie, Alfie Cain (sub Kurtis Cumberbatch, 79 mins), Charles Banya, Mark McLeod, Will Turl (sub Richard Pacquette, h-t), Michael Bryan, Anthony O’Connor (sub Reis Stanislaus, 66 mins). Unused sub: Howard Hall.
Referee: Mr Z Ellis
by Simon Grigor