HARROW BOROUGH 1 GRAYS ATHLETIC 3
After the delights of the display at Worthing last Tuesday came this absolute stinker of a performance to mystify those who had seen most of the players involved here perform to such a high level in midweek.
The pressing, passing and overall commitment on view in Sussex were all sadly lacking, but were on view from their foot-of-the-table opponents who thoroughly merited their win.
Joshua Webb was injured, and Josh Webb unavailable, so Francis Babalola and Lewis Ochoa took their places in the starting line-up. The last two games had seen Harrow start much better, but the regular fault of not being switched on from the off was back on display on a windy afternoon at Earlsmead. Straight away, Luke Williams had to save when Bishop was given too much room to turn onto Baxter’s cross. And the warning wasn’t heeded. In the fifth minute, the left-hand side of the Harrow set-up was overloaded, allowing Bishop and Osei to combine, and Baxter had acres of space to pick his spot past Williams from just inside the box when Osei delivered the ball from the by-line.
Grays nearly added to their lead with a ‘route one’ goal, Tangara’s long kick benefiting from the strong breeze, Carlos knocking it on and Bishop forcing a save from Williams. It was only then that Harrow started to play any football, and both Babalola and George Nicholas were stopped by very heavy challenges, the effects of which were to curtail their involvement later on. When Williams-Agunabor dragged down Marc Charles-Smith on the right-hand side of the box, referee Donnellan gave the penalty after consultation with his linesmen, and with Joshua Webb absent as noted, Kurtis Cumberbatch took responsibility from the spot and calmly slotted home the 21st minute equaliser.
But if anyone expected Harrow now to take control, they were in error. Though Borough had more of the ball, Grays’ continual pressing disrupted any rhythmical passing, and Charles-Smith and Kabba were caught out continually by a very well-drilled visting offside trap. A blocked Michael Bryan shot was pretty much all that Harrow had to show for the rest of the half.
Tangara saved at his near post from Kabba early in the second half, but Andy Lomas had to make a great challenge on Williams as Grays pressed forward. Despite playing into the wind, they now looked the more likely to score the next goal, and it came in the 62nd minute as Osei threaded a lovely ball through the middle for Bishop to outpace Shaun Preddie and fire across Williams just before Steve Brown could get across to tackle.
Harrow looked increasingly clueless, and the introduction of Harry Newman and Lewis Driver from the bench made no difference, indeed all pretence at there being any width seemed to disappear, while that visiting offside trap continued to snare its victims. Williams saved from Baxter before, in the 70th minute, Lomas played a lofted ball across the front of his own area. Only he will have known who was its intended recipient, but there wasn’t a Harrow player near as Bishop ran onto it, took it wide of Williams, and slotted home the killer third goal, to the delight of a noisy travelling support.
Grays were able to manage their lead with little threat at all from Borough, who must get this out of their system straight away before three successive games on the road, the first being this Tuesday at Wingate & Finchley, a venue where they have a truly awful record.
HARROW BOROUGH: Luke Williams, Lewis Ochoa, Andy Lomas, Shaun Preddie, Steve Brown, Kurtis Cumberbatch (booked, 42 mins), Michael Bryan, George Nicholas (sub Lewis Driver, 63 mins), Marc Charles-Smith, Sahr Kabba, Francis Babalola (sub Harry Newman, 63 mins). Unused subs: Dylan Eady, Jemel Laazizi, Joshua Webb.
GRAYS ATHLETIC: Amadou Tangara, Ryan Mahal, Joe Payne, Nathan Campbell (booked, 90 mins), Jonathan Ashton, Chidi Williams-Agunabor (booked, 20 mins), Barney Williams (sub Harry Watkins, 82 mins), Kwabena Osei, Matthew Baxter (booked, 64 mins; sub Lartey Sarpong, 69 mins), Kieran Bishop (sub Etienne Mukanda Kabobola, 86 mins), Joao Carlos. Unused subs: Jordan Aghatise, Tarik Kucuk.
Referee: Mr T Donnellan
by Simon Grigor