HARLOW TOWN 2 HARROW BOROUGH 1
After a dull first half, briefly lit up by a fine goal from Kurtis Cumberbatch, Harlow were much the better team in the second half and deserved their victory
Steve Baker made two changes from the winning line up against Kingstonian the previous Saturday. Mark McLeod replaced George Moore in a more defensive midfield and Anthony O`Connor came in for Michael Bryan.
A gusty wind and the bouncy, artificial surface combined to produce an unmemorable first half. Harlow had the first chance after five minutes when a long ball down the right wing bounced over the Harrow defence, the ball was crossed to an unmarked Harlow forward at the near post, but he stabbed his shot wide. It was Harlow`s best chance of the half. Harrow began to put together some neat passing movements in midfield, but without causing problems for the Harlow defence. There were also a number of hopeful long balls forward, which ran straight through to Ashlee Jones in the Harlow goal. Mark McLeod won a free kick on the left hand side. The resulting cross reached Anthony O`Connor at the far side of the penalty area, but his shot back across goal went wide. Charles Banya had an excellent chance to put Harrow in front after 25 minutes. Shaun Preddie found Reis Stanislaus in the right channel and his pass put Banya clear through on goal, but his first touch was too strong and the ball ran through to Jones, not for the last time in the game.
Harrow were dominating possession at this time, with Harlow offering little threat. Their pressure was rewarded by an excellent goal in the 38th minute. O`Connor crossed from the left wing to Banya, unmarked just outside of the penalty area. This time he controlled the ball, but his shot was parried away by the advancing Jones. The ball bounced out of the area to Kurtis Cumberbatch and his powerful shot crashed into the goal off the underside of the bar. Harrow continued to press and had a couple of half chances, but the final action of the first half was at the other end of the pitch, when a Harlow corner was met with a flicked header just inside the penalty area and the ball hit the near post.
Harlow substituted Livings for Neita at half time and this may have been the catalyst for a much more lively performance in the second half. However, the first chance of the period fell to Cumberbatch, who received a crossfield ball just inside the penalty area, but rather than trying a snap shot, he attempted to jink inside his defender and was robbed of the ball. Harlow equalised three minutes into the half. Gordon received a pass on the left and he ran across goal looking for a shooting opportunity, but was tripped by a Harrow defender as he went past. Read scored the resulting penalty despite Minter getting a hand to the ball. Harlow were now dominating play and causing Harrow considerable problems. In attempting to clear yet another Harlow attack, O`Connor accidently tripped a Harlow player just outside the penalty area. Step forward Steve Baker who yelled at Adam Richards to guard the near post, which is exactly where the free kick was driven and Richards headed clear. Minter flicked another Harlow free kick over the bar, but went into the referee`s book, when in collecting a ball, his momentum took him outside of the penalty area. It was the only booking of the game.
Harrow went behind from a sucker punch after 66 minutes. Harlow won a free kick on the left. Most of the players lined up on the far side of goal ready for the cross. Instead, the ball was stroked forward to Dobson at the near post and he turned his marker before shooting across Minter into the far corner of the goal. Harlow nearly scored again after 73 minutes when two or three shots were blocked in a goalmouth scramble. Harrow began to press more as they chased an equaliser. The excellent Shaun Preddie found Cumberbatch on the edge of the penalty area, but his shot was scrambled off the line. At the other end, Minter made a great save as Read outmuscled Richards in a Harlow breakaway. Harrow`s last chance again fell to Banya, who was put through as a result of a midfield rebound, but again his first touch was too strong, enabling Jones to reach the ball first. Harlow were very successful in running down the last few minutes of play to achieve a victory which their second half performance deserved.
HARLOW TOWN: Ashlee Jones, Jimmy Shepherd, Jaya Siva, James Baker, Jide Maduaho, Fabion Simms, Jared Small, Syrus Gordon, Alex Read (sub Nathan Livings, 85 mins), Reece Dobson, Nigel Neita (sub Junior Dadson, h-t). Unused subs: Craig Pope, Adnea Mayasi, Samuel Szymczyk.
HARROW BOROUGH: Melvin Minter (booked, 56 mins), Howard Hall, Arinse Uade, Adam Richards, Curtis Ujah, Shaun Preddie, Anthony O`Connor, Mark McLeod (sub Michael Bryan, 71 mins), Reis Stanislaus (sub Will Turl, 71 mins), Charles Banya, Kurtis Cumberbatch. Unused subs: Alfie Cain, Richard Pacquette, George Moore.
Referee: Tom Bishop
by Richard Dyett