TOOTING & MITCHAM UTD 5 HARROW BORO 2
Harrow committed suicide not once, but twice, on an awful afternoon at Imperial Fields.
Conceding three in a dire first half, what looked being a wonderful fight-back was stopped suddenly in the last ten minutes when two already-booked players brainlessly gave the referee little option but to show them second yellow cards. Two late goals for the hosts gave the scoreline a look that the first period deserved but the second certainly did not.
The Harrow attack has looked pretty toothless in recent weeks, never more so than in the two FA Trophy games with Haringey, and the club had made a statement that they were determined to rectify this with the capture of Ryan Moss, a prolific striker at this level. He gave an early indication of what he is about when he moved on to George Moore’s through ball to fire a shot across the goal. But it was Tooting who struck first, in the 9th minute. Wedgeworth was given the freedom of the left side of the field. His cross was beyond the far post and ought to have been cleared by Arinse Uade, but he merely directed it to an attacker on the right, and he delivered it back across goal for Clements to bury a far post header.
Wedgeworth was to prove to be the half’s key player. The Harrow defence, with Moore looking for the first time like a ‘fill in’ full-back, having fitted in comfortably previously in the role, failed to get hold of his raids up the left, and he was also a threat from set pieces. He curled a free-kick just wide of Melvin Minter’s goal, before the Harrow keeper came out to save at Spencer’s feet. Harrow threatened with a powerful Adam Richards header palmed over by Pierson, and a Shaun Preddie shot saved comfortably. When Moore lost the ball, Clements advanced to curl a shot just wide.
Kurtis Cumberbatch thought he’d been fouled and extracted retribution on the aggressor a few seconds later: the booking he picked up proved to be very significant later on. Pierson tipped over Moss’s flashing header from Cumberbatch’s cross, but everything went horribly wrong for Harrow with two more Tooting goals in little more than a minute. The source of the first was again a Wedgeworth raid on the left, his low cross converted by Dixon in the 35th minute. Then Minter made a howler, pushing out a Wedgeworth free-kick very weakly, Folkes converting easily.
Moss arrived at the near post to fire Michael Bryan’s cross over, but Tooting nearly ended the half with a fourth, Wedgeworth’s free-kick going just wide. The pairing in midfield of Mark McLeod and Preddie had not worked, and not for the first time, and McLeod was replaced at the interval by Reis Stanislaus, giving Harrow a more attacking look. Moss nearly scored at the start of the half as he arrived at the far post a split second too late to convert Cumberbatch’s low cross. Preddie then picked up an injury and Charles Banya replaced him. There was now no ‘enforcer’ in midfield but if Harrow followers were worried that the flood-gates would therefore open for the hosts, they were totally wrong: the second change instead sparked a superb fight-back. In the 58th minute Cumberbatch’s corner led to a Bryan shot blocked, but the ball fell to Moore, 30 yards out, and his low shot found the net.
Stanisalus headed over from Banya’s free-kick, and Pierson tipped over a curling free-kick from Cumberbatch that threatened to creep in at the far post. Another Cumberbatch free-kick drew a Moss header saved by Pierson. Harrow were convinced that there had been a handball in the box, and Moss was booked for protesting too much. Bajram Pashaj, alas looking like a player who’s some way short of match sharpness, following his long injury, found Cumberbatch, 20 yards out, and his shot cannoned down off the underside of the bar and out. Uade finished a lovely move with a cross that was driven too hard for his colleagues to get on the end of it, and Harrow got a second goal in the 74th minute when a Cumberbatch corner was cleared to the edge of the box. Moore met it with another rasping strike, the ball finding the net via a slight deflection off Curtis Ujah. At the time of writing this report, Moore has been given the goal, and certainly his shot was goalbound anyway.
Could Harrow level? Certainly the home side were panicking, but then, in the 80th minute, and having just received what was no doubt a final warning from the referee, Cumberbatch pulled back an opponent, and received his second yellow and his marching orders. The life almost immediately went out of the Harrow play, and in the 82nd minute Tooting raided on the right, with Richards at fault for failing to cut out a pass. When Dixon rolled it into the middle, substitute Bassett rammed it home.
Dines and Dixon went close for Tooting, and then the Harrow goose was well and truly cooked when Ujah, also already on a yellow card, stupidly forced the ball out of Pierson’s hands. His second yellow was inevitable, and in stoppage time Bassett waltzed through what remained of the Harrow defence to make it 5-2.
Harrow’s indiscipline is a cause for concern this season, and a referee is addressing the players after an upcoming training session. The players are personally fined for ‘dissent’ bookings: I would suggest that if they were fined for other unnecessary offences, it might start to herald better behaviour. Meanwhile, the Harrow form is now seriously worrying, especially when set in the context of the implosion seen last Spring. It’s now just nine points from the last eleven games, and seasoned sufferers on the terraces are already giving thanks that only one team is going down this season. But the teams at the bottom are all now picking up points and Borough need to get their act together, soon. It’s only a few weeks ago that they played really well at home to Dulwich, Kingstonian and Wingate, and away at Lowestoft, but the spark from those displays has been missing ever since.
TOOTING & MITCHAM UNITED: Matte Pierson, Tom Jelley, Peter Wedgeworth, Eddie Dines, Sam Flegg, Quincy Rowe, Jeuvan Spencer (sub Sandy Cunningham, 84 mins), Dominic Morgan-Griffiths (sub Kevin Maclaren, 89 mins), Michael Dixon (booked, 86 mins), Omar Folkes (sub Danny Bassett, 77 mins), Daniel Clements. Unused subs: Oliver Bennett, Tenny Adebowale.
HARROW BOROUGH: Melvin Minter, George Moore, Arinse Uade (booked, 41 mins), Adam Richards, Curtis Ujah (booked, 83 mins; sent off, 88 mins), Shaun Preddie (sub Charles Banya, 55 mins), Kurtis Cumberbatch (booked, 20 mins; sent off, 80 mins), Mark McLeod (sub Reis Stanislaus, h-t; booked, 75 mins), Ryan Moss (booked, 63 mins), Michael Bryan, Bajram Pashaj (sub Kyle Beggs, 84 mins). Unused sub: Will Turl.
Referee: Mr C Green
by Simon Grigor