BURGESS HILL TOWN 5 HARROW BORO 1
It’s a repetition that must pose serious questions about their mentality. For the second time in a fortnight, Harrow followed up a five-star performance with one plumbed from the depths. They were cut to ribbons time and time again
by their slick Sussex opponents, and not even the gift of a freak goal to put them in front could save them from a mauling.
Michael Bryan, in for Harry Newman, was the only change to Saturday’s starting line-up. Josh Webb’s booking inside the first 20 seconds can be seen in retrospect as a portent of a bad evening to come, but it didn’t seem that way as Harrow took an 11th minute lead. Shaun Preddie cleared up a dangerous-looking home attack, and set Harrow on a quick break forward. However, it seemed to have fizzled out as a home defender got in to play the ball back to keeper Greaves. But he completely missed his kick, and Sahr Kabba had kept running forward just in case something happened, and he was able to walk the ball into the goal.
Pat Harding shot over for the hosts, Francis Babalola firing wide for Harrow, but the Hillians were starting to look threatening. Pat Harding pulled away from Michael Peacock to fire in an effort that was deflected for a corner, from which the ball dropped to an unmarked Hazet, who shot over when he should have scored. Kabba couldn’t get enough purchase on a ball dropping from a deflected Michael Bryan shot to trouble Greaves, and in the 28th minute Burgess Hill levelled. A corner was headed across goal by Richmond and ended up in the net despite Josh Webb’s effort to keep it out.
Luke Williams was to become busier and busier in the last hour of the game, and he made a decent save to keep out Smith-Joseph’s snap shot, before going full-length to turn away Lee Harding’s drive. Lewis Driver had a shot blocked for Harrow after Babalola had redelivered Andy Lomas’s deep cross back into the area. Harrow’s passing was increasingly in the air, all too easy for tall centre-backs to deal with, and in the 42nd minute Kurtis Cumberbatch’s hoof forward was sent straight back past him and his colleagues, Rodrigues running clear to beat Williams.
Kabba, in need of a step-ladder to reach much of what was being sent forward to him, was withdrawn at half-time, Marc Charles-Smith coming on with the idea no doubt of having the ball ‘stick’ somewhat better when it was sent forward, But any such plans were blown out of the water when, once again, Harrow began a half with a concession of a goal. Only 40 seconds of the second period had elapsed when Lee Harding broke on the left, and his ball inside was redirected to Smith-Joseph who fired home.
Harrow then had a decent spell. Cumberbatch drove over from the edge of the box, and Charles-Smith was twice inches off target, first heading just wide from Lomas’s cross, and then shooting past the post following Cumberbatch’s free-kick. But it was ‘game over’ after 65 minutes when Peacock was robbed in possession by Rodrigues, Smith-Joseph gathering the ball to beat Williams.
Williams tipped Pat Harding’s shot up in the air, recovering to claim the ball before it crossed the line, and then made a fine double save to deny Rodrigues and Smith-Joseph. The Harrow keeper was then left exposed again as Rodrigues raced into the area, and brought down the home forward. Although he got a hand to Smith-Joseph’s penalty, he was unable to prevent the home forward from completing a 30-minute hat-trick.
The onslaught didn’t stop and Harrow could be thankful that the score remained at five. Rodrigues fired over after, yet again, Borough had lost a tackle, and Williams then made the save of the night to claw away Richardson-Brown’s flashing near-post header from a left-wing cross.
Greaves made regulation late saves from Cumberbatch and Lewis Ochoa, but Harrow were thankful to hear the final whistle on a shocker of an evening. Borough now have a pair of home games, against Worthing and Havant & Waterlooville, and no-one who has watched both their games in the last four days will have the foggiest clue as to which Harrow will turn up.
BURGESS HILL TOWN: Cameron Greaves, Will Miles, Sam Fisk, Pierre Hazet (sub Guy Bolton, 86 mins), Cheick Toure (booked, 45 mins), James Richmond, Lee Harding, Joe Keehan, Pat Harding (sub Tyrell Richardson-Brown, 77 mins), Aaron Smith-Joseph (sub Ashley Nzala, 88 mins), Lucas Rodrigues (booked, 36 mins). Unused subs: Leon Redwood, Stuart Tuck.
HARROW BOROUGH: Luke Williams (booked,75 mins), Josh Webb (booked, 1 min), Andy Lomas, Shaun Preddie, Michael Peacock (booked, 70 mins; sub Lewis Ochoa, 73 mins), Kurtis Cumberbatch, Francis Babalola, George Nicholas (booked, 45 mins), Sahr Kabba (sub Marc Charles-Smith, h-t), Lewis Driver, Michael Bryan (sub Joshua Webb, 73 mins).
Referee: Mr S Finnigan
by Simon Grigor