DULWICH HAMLET 4 HARROW BOROUGH 2
Outpassed and outgunned in an embarrassingly one-sided first-half, a battling second-half display restored some pride in the Harrow ranks but nevertheless it was exit time for Borough from a competition in which their record is a very poor one.
There might have been signs of Spring in last Saturday’s weather at Imber Court, but there was a bitingly-cold Siberian wind blowing from one end of the Champion Hill ground to the other. However, on a night when both scheduled Bostik Premier games succumbed to waterlogged pitches, the playing surface was excellent, as good as Harrow have played on for a couple of months. Steve Baker gave a debut to centre-back Jonathan Bell and, with Chinua Cole injured, Charles Banya filled in as left-sided wing-back.
Despite a run of five league games without a win, the hosts looked confident from the start and ripped into the visitors. Melvin Minter made a fine save to tip Carew’s low shot round the post, the same player then firing wide when his free-kick came back to him off the Harrow wall. Faal strode past two Harrow defenders but Minter was quickly off his line to intercept, and then Allassani headed wide from Abrahams’s cross. The dam burst after 14 minutes with a fine goal, though it began with Sahr Kabba losing the ball in the home half. Allassani brought down the ensuing long pass forward and in one movement, twisted past two close-marking Harrow defenders and cracked a shot low to Minter’s left.
Harrow had a chance to equalise when Banya beat the home offside trap and was through on goal, but his finish lacked conviction and Edwards saved. Moore made a fine clearance from Ferguson’s dangerous delivery and was then in action at the other end, cutting in from the right to fire a left-footer over the bar. Clunis then did the same at the other end, coming in off the right wing past two defenders, Minter coming out to stop him. In the 32nd minute, Allassani twisted past Howard Hall who pulled him back. Carew fired the resulting penalty over the diving Minter, meaning he has scored in each of the three Dulwich-Harrow matches this season.
Faal steered a shot narrowly wide from a right-wing cross, but the game was as good as over in the 39th minute, as Ferguson brushed aside a challenge and pulled the ball across from the right for Carew, whose shot went into the middle of the goal, Minter seeming to dive over or past it. Harrow’s best attack of the half came at its conclusion, Moor getting to the right-hand by-line and crossing for Ryan Moss to send a low shot narrowly past the near post.
The second period began in the manner of the first, with Clunis delivering a hard, low cross that merely lacked someone to touch it in. But Harrow then started to use the good surface to play some football, and a move of many passes ended with Moss crossing from the left and Moore firing over. Moss then had a header blocked from Michael Bryan’s delivery, and Bryan beat two defenders on the left before angling a left-foot strike over the bar.
Moss and Kabba were replaced by Anthony O’Connor and Kyle Beggs, and that seemed to signal an acceptance that this game was done, but both O’Connor and Beggs were to perform well in the remainder of the game and maybe give Baker some selection thoughts for the coming weeks. Beggs fired a shot past the near post after Bryan and Moore had combined with some close work inside the Hamlet box. However, Dulwich extended their lead in the 72nd minute. Minter kept out one effort but his defence couldn’t clear the loose ball and Beaney followed in to shoot past the keeper’s right hand.
One loyal Harrow fan had enough of the bitter cold at this point and departed: a shame, as Harrow kept going, and after Bryan had a shot blocked from O’Connor’s pass, they pulled a goal back in the 78th minute. I’ve often wondered why goalkeepers set up walls for free-kicks a decent distance out, but I can now see the argument after what happened here. O’Connor won a free-kick 25 yards out on the right angle of the box, and Edwards had just a single defender placed in front of the ball. Moore took the free-kick with a crisp, arrowing right-footer that went straight as a dye past the keeper’s right hand into the corner.
Green’s shot was turned round the post by Minter and from the resulting corner, Green’s downward header was redirected by Clunis, Minter reacting well to save. Edwards saved Moore’s left-foot effort, and then held Banya’s looping header from O’Connor’s cross. Allassani played in Clunis who was denied by Minter. The game was just moving into stoppage-time when Hall’s through ball sent O’Connor clear and he calmly finished past the outrushing Edwards, to make it 4-2. There was still time for Adam Pepera, Harrow’s other substitute, to combine with Minter to make a brilliant goal-line double-block to deny Clunis.
Dulwich advance to a semi-final at Balham, while Harrow’s only chance to extract any cup success this season now lies with the Middlesex Charity Cup. But far more important is the task of keeping away from the foot of the table, and that continues on Saturday when much-improved Worthing are the visitors to The Rogers Family Stadium.
DULWICH HAMLET: Preston Edwards, Sanchez Ming, Tanasheh Abrahams (sub Nathan Green, 60 mins), Kenny Beaney, Mark Weatherstone, Michael Chambers, Nyren Clunis, Ashley Carew (sub Nana Boakye-Yiadom, 65 mins), Reise Allassani, Muhammadu Faal (booked, 44 mins; sub Quade Taylor, 54 mins), Nathan Ferguson. Unused subs: Rickie Hayles, Michael Onovwigun.
HARROW BOROUGH: Melvin Minter, George Moore, Charles Banya, Shaun Preddie, Jonathan Bell, Howard Hall, Kurtis Cumberbatch (sub Adam Pepera, 62 mins), Lewis Cole (booked, 35 mins), Ryan Moss (sub Anthony O’Connor, 68 mins), Michael Bryan, Sahr Kabba (sub Kyle Beggs, 68 mins). Unused sub: Favio Merchan Rodriguez.
Referee: Mr B Kwatt
by Simon Grigor