HITCHIN TOWN 2 HARROW BORO 2 (Hitchin won on Pens)
Harrow had the majority of the possession in this lively and entertaining Southern Football League Challenge Cup game, but lost 4-2 in the penalty shoot out.
Both teams took advantage of the fixture to give their squad players a run out, Harrow fielding six of the players who started against Salisbury at the weekend, whilst Hitchin used only three of their starters against Banbury. Harrow played only one striker, Anthony O`Connor, and supporters were wondering whether he would pose any threat up front.
The answer was that he fared pretty well, causing some problems for the Hitchin defence from the long balls up field. Harrow built up early pressure. Moore was through on goal, but the ball ran away from him. A minute later, he got away a shot that Mollinson couldn`t keep hold of, but the keeper gathered the rebound before Rush could get to it. Harrow were also a threat from a pair of corners, but against the run of play, Hitchin took the lead on 11 minutes. A Harrow defender under hit a back pass to Keval Patel. He seemed to hesitate on whether to go for the ball and Galliford got there first, pushing the ball past Patel and scoring into the empty net.
The goal didn`t alter the pattern of play and Harrow continued to have most of the possession, creating a succession of corners, one of which came from a Moore shot that was deflected wide. In a breakaway, Hitchin`s Galliford got to the left goal line and crossed, but the resulting shot from Thake was well saved by Patel, who then chased down another attacker as the ball ran out to the right. (the identity of some of the Hitchin players are taken from the excellent Pipeman match report on the Hitchin website). Keita hit a fierce shot from the edge of the penalty area that was tipped over the bar by Mollison, but at the other end, Harrow nearly gave another goal away when Richards under hit a back pass to Patel, but this time the keeper got to the ball at the same time as the Hitchin forward and blocked the shot. O`Connor got clear of the Hitchin defence on the left and crossed into the penalty area, where there were several defenders, but not a single Harrow player.
Harrow finally got their equaliser on 39 minutes. A long ball was chased into the penalty area by Rush. Mollinson got to the ball ahead of him, but fumbled it into a Hitchin defender. He tried to clear it but it bounced off another defender and, under pressure, O`Connor got to the ball first and stabbed it home. There then followed a bizarre period of play. Three minutes after the Harrow equaliser, Charles got to the byline under pressure from Preddie, who tripped him as he went past him towards the goal. Talbot scored from the spot. A minute later, a long ball was chased by O`Connor to the right of the penalty area. Mollinson ran out in an attempt to get to the ball first and in the resulting clash, O`Connor let out a cry, worthy of the chief of the banshees and went to ground. With or without the help of the theatrics, Mr Burridge awarded a penalty, which Keita scored with confidence. There was still time in the first half for another Moore shot, which was pushed wide to O`Connor beyond the far post, but he was unable to return the ball.
Play in the second half was more even than the first, with entertaining, end-to-end football, but Harrow shading the share of possession. They began with an impressive move, with the ball going from Bryan to O`Connor to Moore and his shot was deflected for a corner. In a rare foray forward, Fenton clattered his way down the right wing and put in good cross, which Rush was unable to reach. A Hitchin forward was allowed to run in on goal straight from a throw in, but his shot went well over the bar. Moore`s best shot of the evening, from a Bryan pass, saw Mollinson make an excellent diving save. Hitchin nearly took the lead when a free kick ploy saw Charles run away from the group of players waiting for the cross at the far post, to receive the ball unmarked in the middle of the goal, but his shot was tipped wide by Patel, who also succeeded in clearing the resulting corner. O`Connor was able to turn on the edge of the penalty area and get a shot away that was pushed out for a corner. Following a later, short corner the ball was crossed towards goal where Moore tried a neat flick that went just wide of the far post.. Fenton came close to scoring when he headed a free kick just over the bar. As both Managers made their substitutions, including the three Under 23 newcomers at Harrow, the flow of the game was disrupted. Packham for Hitchin the put the ball in the Harrow net, but was offside, whilst Harrow substitute, Excellence Muhemba, missed the best chance of the game in the last few minutes. The ball reached him two yards out from the goal, just outside the far post, following Harrow pressure in the penalty area. He had time to turn and place the ball into the empty goal, but he chose to blast it and it went wide of the post. And so on to a penalty shoot out. Both sides scored with their first two kicks ( Bryan and Olanrewaju for Harrow). Hitchin scored with their third, but Haugh`s kick hit the bar and when O`Connor hit a weak kick at Mollinson, the game was Hitchin`s.
HITCHIN TOWN: Josh Mollinson, Alex Anderson, Noah Chesmain, Danny Talbot, Dan Webb, Lewis Ferrell, Tremayne Charles, Michael King (sub Jay Dowie, 70 mins), Charlie Thake, Scott Belgrove, Isaac Galliford (sub Craig Packham, 65 mins). Unused subs: Toby Syme, Michael Johnson, Kyle Davison-Gordon.
HARROW BOROUGH: Keval Patel, George Moore, Ryan Haugh, Shaun Preddie, Adam Richards (sub Samuel Olanrewaju, 73 mins), Harry Rush (sub Eric Sowanola, 73 mins), Frank Keita (sub Excellence Muhemba, 65 mins), Mark McLeod, Anthony O`Connor, Michael Bryan, George Fenton (booked, 11 mins). Unused subs: Lewis Cole, Hafed Al-Droubi.
Referee: Mr J Burridge
By Richard Dyett