HARROW BOROUGH 2 HAVANT & WATERLOOVILLE 1
Stay in the game when you are under the cosh, and you never know what might happen. Those words were never truer than on this night at Earlsmead, when Harrow withstood an hour of domination by league leaders Havant,
only to hit back in the last half-hour with two goals that took them a massive step closer to Ryman Premier security.
Clearly aware of the threat from a side topping the league table, the form table and with the best away record, Steve Baker again went with the security of three central defenders, with both wide men left on the bench. Although Andy Lomas created an early half-opening for Kurtis Cumberbatch, blocked, it was the Hawks who made the early running, with some slick passing taking them round the pitch despite hard-working pressing from Borough. An early move saw Williams shoot over, and then a great move up the right culminated with a cross to the far post, where Rutherford screwed his shot wide when he really should have hit the target.
Luke Williams held a low driven cross from the left but he was powerless to stop Havant going in front after 20 minutes. A throw-in on the right was worked infield, and Fogden cleverly lifted the ball over the defence for Tarbuck to finish sharply.
Might the floodgates open? No, though Havant continued to dominate. Williams made a fine save when a shot took a late deflection off Joshua Webb, and a scramble saw Williams save, Shaun Preddie block and Rutherford drive over the bar. A rare home attack saw Havant keeper Young make his first save of the night, a regulation one from Steve Brown’s header. Sahr Kabba limped off just before the interval, a sad end to his loan spell at Earlsmead that has seen him net eight important goals, and the applause from the visiting support showed how highly he is still regarded from his time at Westleigh Park. As the half closed, Havant cut the Harrow defence open again and Fogden arrived on the edge of the box to shoot just wide.
Baker took off Joshua Webb at half-time, and threw on Harry Newman. It didn’t make any immediate difference to the grey and dayglow waves coming at Williams and his defenders. Brown cleared an effort off the line, Prior driving the ball over in the follow-up, and Brown then made a fantastic but desperate tackle to stop the breaking Patterson. Lewis missed a great chance to double the lead when he headed wide from Prior’s cross, and Williams held Patterson’s attempt to lob him. The first serious pressure of the night on the visiting goal saw a scramble before the ball was hacked away.
Whether it was Brown having a knock, or a need to throw more caution to the wind, Baker withdrew Brown after 55 minutes and sent on winger number two, Francis Babalola. How would Harrow fare now with just a conventional four at the back? Williams drove a terrific ball across the home goalmouth that just needed a touch, and Prior’s near post header from Stock’s corner was saved by the other Williams, Borough’s Luke. Another Prior effort was deflected wide but then, in the 66th minute, Borough levelled. A nice move up the left culminated in Cumberbatch playing the ball forward to Marc Charles-Smith, on the left-hand by-line. He turned his marker and sent in a low cross that the unfortunate Robinson, under pressure, turned into his own net.
The Hawks’ balloon was punctured, and the away threat diminished considerably. Cumberbatch had a shot blocked after a good move and it was now anyone’s guess who might win the game. And in the 84th minute, Cumberbatch took a corner on the left, swinging it into the near post, where Michael Peacock met it with a low glancing header, his first goal of the season, to send players and fans into rapture.
A late Havant header was saved by Williams, but Harrow might even have got a third when Newman broke on the left and picked out Cumberbatch in the middle, but Young made a fine save.
Up to 14th place and 47 points, Harrow are very close now to the safety mark. Next up are two away games, at AFC Sudbury this Saturday and then Staines Town away next Tuesday.
HARROW BOROUGH: Luke Williams, Lewis Ochoa, Andy Lomas, Shaun Preddie, Michael Peacock, Steve Brown (sub Francis Babalola, 55 mins), Michael Bryan, Joshua Webb (sub Harry Newman, h-t), Marc Charles-Smith, Sahr Kabba (sub Lewis Driver, 45 mins), Kurtis Cumberbatch (booked, 42 mins). Unused subs: George Nicholas, Josh Webb.
HAVANT & WATERLOOVILLE: Ryan Young, Ryan Woodford (sub Ben Swallow, 79 mins), Rory Williams, Brian Stock (booked, 75 mins), Andy Robinson, Ed Harris, Wes Fogden (sub George Barker, 79 mins), Theo Lewis, Jason Prior, Alfie Rutherford (sub Matt Patterson, h-t), Bradley Tarbuck. Unused subs: Lee Molyneaux, Michael Carter.
Referee: Mr M Carmichael
by Simon Grigor