HARROW BOROUGH 3 DORKING WANDERERS 4
Take away those amazing four wins that opened the season and what do you have? A side that has just nine points from a possible 42. A sixth defeat on the trot, a run even worse than anything seen on the plummet to a relegation position last Spring,
, put the seal on an overwhelmingly depressing week at The Rogers Family Stadium.
Harrow last scored first in a game ten matches ago (at Harlow). Why they continue to let opponents have the upper hand from the start is one of many topics that the management need to be addressing urgently, and although George Moore had a shot blocked after an exchange with Michael Bryan, it was one-way traffic for the first 25 minutes. Curtis Ujah blocked McShane’s drive, Tolfrey shot wide at the near post following a cross from the right, and Melvin Minter saved well from the same player after Tayo Davies-Coker’s error allowed him a run on goal. Moore then headed the ball straight to Sole, Minter turning his shot round, and Sole put another effort wide of the target.
The dam had to burst and it did so in spectacular fashion, with three Dorking goals in a six-minute spell as Harrow looked defensively completely inept. First Enock Sognaile couldn’t stop a cross from the right. Minter made not one, not two, but three brilliant reaction saves, but couldn’t keep out a fourth effort, from Tolfrey, that gave the visitors the lead. The Harrow custodian would be more than entitled to ask why it was that the opposition got to each of those balls before his defenders.
That was in the 17th minute, and the lead doubled in the 20th. Another right-wing raid, another cross not defended, and this time a towering header by Taylor at the far post.
Then, in the 23rd minute, Sognaile was again exposed in the left-back slot. Again Minter kept out an initial shot, and again the defence were like statues as Briggs followed in to net the rebound.
At this point things were starting to boil up on the terraces, and one felt that Steve Baker, generally backed by the supporters since his appointment, was in for a very difficult walk off at the interval. But instead his side showed huge amounts of spirit to knuckle down to fight their way back. In the 28th minute Bryan was fouled on the right, and Charles Banya’s clever free-kick was converted by Ryan Moss to open his Harrow account, Pelling getting his hands to his near-post shot but failing to keep it out.
Banya shot wide following a corner, and then Harrow pulled another goal back after 36 minutes. Moss and Bryan combined on the right, and Bryan’s cross was met by a beautiful looping header from Kurtis Cumberbatch, over Pelling and into the goal.
Ujah and Soganile both made good interceptions after separate mistakes by Moore, but nevertheless, half-time arrived with a degree of optimism coursing through home veins. As the second period began, Sahr Kabba turned onto Moss’s cross from the right to force a save from Pelling, but Soganile again showed his inexperience when he lost the ball on the halfway line, allowing Briggs to break forward and shoot across goal. Taylor shot wide at the near post from a Dorking free-kick routine that mirrored the one Harrow had used for their first, before Banya broke on the right to shoot left-footed narrowly wide. If there’d been defensive cover on the bench, Soganile might have been withdrawn from the firing line, but without the injured Adam Richards and Howard Hall, and the suspended Shaun Preddie, there wasn’t, and the young full-back was again at fault as he allowed McShane to break clear and shoot wide.
Harrow then got back into the game, and Pelling denied Moss’s attempt from a narrow angle, before Borough equalised in the 72nd minute, with an absolutely brilliant goal. Bryan got hold of a deep cross from the right. Initially running away from goal, he turned back into the box, went past two defenders and slid the ball across Pelling into the far corner.
McShane shot wide for Dorking but surely Harrow wouldn’t now throw away all their hard work? But they were to do just that. First, there was a very questionable double-substitution. Both Kabba and Banya were troubling the visiting rearguard, but they were taken off to be replaced by Kyle Beggs and Bajram Pashaj. The former is very much unproven, the latter a man who looks like someone desperately trying to regain sharpness after a horrible injury and not yet there. And to accommodate them, Bryan was switched to the right when he had the Dorking right-back Philpott, already on a yellow card, very much ‘on toast’. Harrow never had a meaningful attack again. And in the 83rd minute, a mishit Dorking shot fell to one of their players (once again more alert than the Harrow defence), it was switched into the middle, Minter parried an initial shot and (once again a Dorking player, not a Harrow one, reacting) Boulter fired home from a couple of yards.
Ujah and, latterly, Minter, spent time upfield in the dying moments. Kabba and Banya would have been better weapons.
The league games are coming thick and fast at present. Harrow take on top-five Staines Town in a second successive home game this Tuesday, before traveling to bottom-of-the-table, but hugely-improved, Worthing, on Saturday. Two more defeats and one wonders if the Board, who had promised, on getting the relegation reprieve last summer, that lessons had been learned, might be sharpening their axe.
HARROW BOROUGH: Melvin Minter, George Moore, Enock Soganile, Tayo Davies-Coker, Curtis Ujah, Kurtis Cumberbatch (booked, 31 mins), Charles Banya (sub Bajram Pashaj, 75 mins), Mark McLeod (sub Greig Stewart, 63 mins), Ryan Moss, Michael Bryan, Sahr Kabba (sub Kyle Beggs, 75 mins)
DORKING WANDERERS: Joshua Pelling, Isaac Philpott (booked, 78 mins), Chris Boulter, David Ray (booked, 44 mins), Jerome Beckles, Lewis Taylor, Sam Beard (sub Lewis Putman, 54 mins), Matt Briggs, Giuseppe Sole (sub Dan Pearse, h-t), Tom Tolfrey, James McShane (sub Gareth Chendlik, 82 mins). Unused subs: Teddy Ralph, Ben Dyett.
Referee: Mr J Paterson
by Simon Grigor