Staines Town 0 Harrow Borough 2
There were satisfactory returns from injury for George Moore and Josh Andrew as Harrow eased into the Semi-Finals of the County Cup with a comfortable win against a doughty but limited Staines side.
A question on many Borough followers’ lips had been how would Steve Baker accommodate Moore and Andrew together in the side when both were fit again. That question might have been ducked to a degree in the selection of the starting eleven, as Andrew was in the right wing-back role, but Moore was employed, unusually, on the left-side of an attacking trident, with Dylan Kearney as its spearhead and Michael Bryan pushed up a little further than usual on the right. Jordan Ireland’s versatility was again displayed as he anchored a three-man back-line alongside Shaun Preddie and George Fenton. Andre Odetola made his first start in midfield, against the side whom he had left for Harrow earlier this month.
Staines had a changed line-up to that overcome by Harrow on New Year’s Day, and it was they who provided the early threat. Charles-Valentine burst through the Harrow defence, Hafed Al-Droubi coming out to block him and then saving Gogo’s follow-up header. McEvoy shot wide when a cross was half-cleared, and Lewis Cole cleared the danger after Al-Droubi came out of his box to intercept a ball but was dispossessed.
Harrow settled and began to put some good moves together. Bryan played in Andrew on the right and his cross was met at the near post by Kearney, the shot going just wide. Kearney was then sent clear of the home defence but shot wide of the goal, before Andrew cut in from the right to hit a fierce left-foot strike that Dixon dived full-length to his left to tip round the post. At the other end, Krabbendam got past a defender to hit a shot that went narrowly over Al-Droubi’s bar. A snap-shot from Moore went past the near post before Borough opened the scoring in the 38th minute, Moore’s free-kick from 20-yards going low into the net despite Dixon getting his left hand to it.
It was nearly two when Moore cut in from the left. Dixon got in the way of his shot, Kearney got to the loose ball and half-rounded the keeper, only to hit the bar with his shot. Moore, following up, sent the ball over the bar. Bryan and Moore created an opportunity for Odetola but his low shot was saved.
Dixon made a fine save as the second half began, turning away Kearney’s shot after a fine pass from Bryan. Another Bryan pass then sent Moore in on the left and this time the Swans’ custodian leapt to turn his effort over the bar. With just under an hour’s match-fitness restored, Moore was taken off and Max Holland given an extended chance to see what he could do. Immediately he went close with a shot forcing yet another good save from the overworked Dixon. Two other Harrow substitutes, Frank Keita and Anthony O’Connor, then combined with a lovely interchange, a Staines defender blocking just at the crucial moment. Cole found O’Connor in the inside-left channel and his shot went across the face of the goal. Cole fired past the near post from O’Connor’s pass before Harrow sealed the win with a 78th minute goal. A long ball forward should have been dealt with by the Staines defence, but Dixon and one of his central defenders got themselves in a tangle on the edge of the penalty area, and O’Connor took the ball away from them and walked it into the net for his 14th goal of the season. With Kearney on 20 and Ryan Moss on 16, it will have been many years since Borough last had three strikers well into double figures at this point in the season.
A Keita corner led to an Ireland shot across goal and a Preddie strike blocked, while Gogo ought to have reduced the arrears in the dying seconds but headed Campbell Mhlope’s cross wide of an inviting goal.
Harrow return to The Rogers Family Stadium on Saturday for their only home game in a sequence of seven matches. Swindon Supermarine are the visitors and arrive having scored eight in their last two games. Harrow will need to be ‘at it’ from the off, something that’s been lacking in some recent displays, including this one.
STAINES TOWN: Louis Dixon, Arjun Jung, Mack Miskin, Jordan Harrison, Gradi Milenge (sub Veron Kokurinkov, 79 mins), Lewis Lavender, Joe McEvoy (sub Matthew Campbell-Mhlope, 82 mins), Gabriel Piorkowski, Thomas Gogo, Luca Charles-Valentine (sub Luke Wright, 68 mins), Che Krabbendam. Unused subs: MilosVukasinovic, Ben Jones.
HARROW BOROUGH: Hafed Al-Droubi, Josh Andrew, Lewis Cole, Shaun Preddie, Jordan Ireland, George Fenton, Dylan Kearney (sub Anthony O’Connor, 64 mins), Mark McLeod (booked, 32 mins), George Moore (sub Max Holland, 57 mins), Michael Bryan, Andre Odetola (sub Frank Keita, 64 mins). Unused subs: Nathaniel Oseni, Ryan Haugh.
Referee: Mr S Rea
By Simon Grigor