NEEDHAM MARKET 2 HARROW BOROUGH 1
So, the wait to confirm their Ryman Premier status for another season goes on. Having taken just three points from the last 21 on offer, Harrow saw the gap to the trap-door close to just three points, albeit with only two games left,
when they slipped to this narrow defeat at Bloomfields.
It must surely be a matter to be addressed for next season, as once again a holiday-making player was unavailable: this is senior non-league football, not some Sunday park side! Today the absentee was Josh Webb; Steve Brown, back from his own break, took his place in an unfamiliar right-back slot in a side otherwise unchanged from what is presently a rarity, a good display, at Leiston last Tuesday. Needham’s recent form had not been pulling up any trees either, but they were quicker to settle on a bumpy pitch with a fierce breeze adding to the problems. They appeared to have done their homework too, as Brown was targeted in the early stages. First Coakley got past him to whip in a low cross that Ingram met at the near post, drawing a sharp save from Brendan Hazlett. Then, in the seventh minute, Coakley again got up the left wing, and this time he hit a deep cross that found Sands getting in behind Michael Peacock beyond the back stick to guide his header back over Hazlett.
Sands then got in on the right to fire across Hazlett’s goal, before Harrow settled to construct a good move that ended in George Nicholas’s shot saved by home keeper Gay with his feet. Ingram sent Sands’s cross past the near post and, although Gay saved a header from Will Turl, the Marketmen continued to dominate and Hazlett had to get out of his box quickly to hack the ball off Ingram’s toe. But as half-time drew near, Michael Bryan began to have an influence, and made two fine runs to the left-hand by-line. His first saw his low cross go past Gay who was rescued by Nunn hacking the ball over his goal; the second saw Morphew make a fine interception of the cross at the near post.
Another Bryan cross, this time from the right, began the second half, and led to Nicholas drilling the ball wide from 20 yards. Harrow had a let-off when Ingram charged down a Hazlett kick, the ball going wide when it could easily have gone in. Simmons then shot over for the hosts. After 56 minutes, Steve Baker brought on Joshua Webb for Alexander Lafleur: the youngster has put in some fine performances since his arrival from Wealdstone, but today his involvement had been peripheral. Webb was immediately an influence: Turl headed his cross too near Gay, and Peacock sent his corner over the bar with a near-post header. After 60 minutes, Brown sent Bryan away on the right. From his cross, Marc Charles-Smith put sufficient pressure on a home defender for his clearance to go but a short way, and there was Joshua Webb perfectly placed to turn the ball in.
Lheureux Menga then came on for Turl, and Harrow had a good spell when it looked like they were taking control. Menga set up Andy Lomas for a right-foot shot, that took a slight deflection on its way to Gay. Lewis Ochoa then shot wide from Menga’s chested lay-off. A good move then ended with Charles-Smith rolling a defender to get in a shot that Gay saved well despite taking a painful blow from Menga. Ochoa’s long-throw was flicked on by Menga, but no-one gambled on the ball flying to the far post and the chance was gone.
But with a quarter of an hour to go, the direction of the game changed again. Peacock miscued a header, thus setting up a right-wing break. Morphew met the resulting cross with a powerful header that crashed off the underside of the bar before being hacked to safety. That seemed to get the Marketmen’s tails up, and when Shaun Preddie gave away a free-kick in the 79th minute, Coakley struck it past the wall and into the top corner, with Hazlett probably positioned just too near to the centre of the goal to be able to stop it.
Hazlett pulled off a great save to stop another Morphew header, from Simmons’s deep cross, and Joshua Webb cleared off the line from Holland’s header, as Needham finished the game in the ascendant.
Harrow might not need any more points, but with Hendon, Kingstonian and Leatherhead all winning today, that’s not how it feels right now. Monday’s home game with Hendon has all the hallmarks of being a six-pointer, and a worrying one with the Greens bang in form right now.
NEEDHAM MARKET: Danny Gay, Jake Dye, Darryl Coakley, Kieran Morphew, Will Crisell (sub Ian Miller, 74 mins), Sam Nunn, Callum Harrison (sub Billy Holland, 61 mins), Kem Izzet, Luke Ingram, John Sands (sub Reece Dobson, 56 mins), Jack Simmons. Unused subs: Joe Whight, Billy Clark
HARROW BOROUGH: Brendan Hazlett, Steve Brown, Andy Lomas, Shaun Preddie, Michael Peacock, Lewis Ochoa, Michael Bryan, George Nicholas (sub Kurtis Cumberbatch, 82 mins), Marc Charles-Smith, Will Turl (sub Lheureux Menga, 64 mins), Alexander Lafleur (sub Joshua Webb, 56 mins). Unused sub: Jemel Laazizi.
Referee: Mr A Sannerude
by Simon Grigor