HARROW BOROUGH 0 HENDON 2
It’s coming down to the last day of the season….once again. And this time, the Harrow Borough side looking to retain their place in the Isthmian Premier is not one on an upward charge; the 2017 version is wading through quicksand,
with just one point from the last six matches, and the Earlsmead faithful are deeply, deeply worried as they prepare themselves for this Saturday’s long-distance trip to Lowestoft. Despite a bright start here, they ended well beaten by one of their relegation rivals, a Hendon side whose current form is a total contrast to Harrow’s.
Joshua Webb replaced Alexander Lafleur, while Lewis Driver was, surprisingly, fit to return to the side in the only changes to Saturday’s starting line-up, although today Steve Brown lined up as a third centre-back and Lewis Ochoa was at right-back. Harrow began with some decent passing. George Nicholas fired over following a Michael Bryan corner, before chesting the ball down to Driver whose overhead effort went wide. Joshua Webb, Andy Lomas and Marc Chrales-Smith then combined for Driver to head over. Hendon’s only threat early on was when Lomas had to make a fine tackle to dispossess Da Costa, but everything changed in the 26th minute. Lomas lost possession and Nicholas failed to track Ball, as the Hendon midfielder played a one-two, and his low shot from 20 yards took a deflection as it went past Brendan Hazlett’s right hand.
Michael Peacock and Driver won headers to allow Shaun Preddie a well-struck shot on the turn, well saved by Lovelock, but now Hendon had the confidence of the lead and started to play their football, full-backs Hammond and Lee using the full width of the pitch. Hazlett saved Maclaren’s header from a right-wing cross, and then again from the same player, the cross coming from the other side this time. Bryan made a great run from the halfway line but finished it with a wild shot over the bar, and the half closed with a clever Hendon corner routine that ended with Da Costa dipping a shot over the bar from the left.
If Borough do go down, everyone will look back at the umpteen goals that have been conceded just after the break, and here was another. Why, oh why has this happened with such regularity? Peacock and Preddie were slow to turn on a through ball, and Da Costa was past them to lift the ball over Hazlett, in the 47th minute. Harrow confidence wilted noticeably, and Charles-Smith and Driver were increasingly expected to make the most of all-too-many hopeful high punts downfield. Ochoa put a free-kick over the bar, but when Barrington got round him at the other end it needed a great Brown interception to prevent a shot.
Bryan cut in from the right but his left-foot effort was high and wide. Lomas made what looked like a super tackle to stop the breaking Ibe, but referee Bates deemed it a foul, Ball sending the resulting free-kick over the centre of the goal. Harrow couldn’t string a decent move together, and a collision between Preddie and Brown summed up the general second-half inability to do much right. A late Lheureux Menga shot from Charles-Smith’s flick on was at least an effort on target, but Lovelock dealt with it comfortably.
Leatherhead and Kingstonian, both below Harrow at kick-off, moved to safety today with their wins, and Folkestone, like Hendon, closed in by winning too. If Harrow lose on Saturday, the Metropolitan Police will go above them if they lose by less, Hendon and Folkestone will go above them with draws, and Burgess Hill and Canvey Island will go above them with wins. If four of these five pull off such results - and they are all showing the required form to do so - then a Harrow loss will see the end of a 38-year stretch in the Isthmian Premier. Thursday night’s training session is the most important one that Steve Baker and his staff have ever had to deliver.
HARROW BOROUGH: Brendan Hazlett, Lewis Ochoa, Andy Lomas (booked, 86 mins), Shaun Preddie, Michael Peacock, Steve Brown, Michael Bryan, George Nicholas (sub Harry Newman, 67 mins), Marc Charles-Smith, Lewis Driver (sub Lheureux Menga, 80 mins), Joshua Webb (sub Kurtis Cumberbatch, 80 mins). Unused subs: Luke Williams, Alexander Lafleur.
HENDON: Tom Lovelock, James Hammond, Arthur Lee, Sam Murphy, Josh McLeod-Urquhart (booked, 49 mins), Luke Tingey, Casey Maclaren (sub James Harper, 70 mins), Matthew Ball (sub Keagan Cole, 80 mins), Kezie Ibe, Marcel Barrington (sub Reis Stanislaus, 84 mins), Khale Da Costa (booked, 90 mins). Unused subs: Geo Craig, Daniel Rumens.
Referee: Mr S Bates
by Simon Grigor