WORTHING 2 HARROW BOROUGH 2
There’s been indiscipline, there’s been tactical incompetence, there’s been bad luck with injuries, there have been baffling substitutions. But throughout the awful run that Harrow Borough have been on, the team spirit has remained strong.
And, staring yet another defeat in the face, and seeing a colleague stretchered off unconscious, they kept plugging away and got a deserved equaliser seven minutes into 13 minutes of stoppage-time.
Steve Baker kept an unchanged side from the narrow defeat to Staines on Tuesday, on a bitterly cold afternoon on the Sussex coast. Worthing were first to threaten, Meekums getting past Enock Soganile to cross to Sparks, whose shot was deflected past the post. Harrow hit back and Bajram Pashaj won a tackle, ran at the defence and curled a shot inches wide. Worthing were clearly under instruction to play out from the back, and Harrow were combatting that with a high-pressing game. Michael Bryan dispossessed an opponent and got the ball to Pashaj whose shot lacked pace but nevertheless forced Covolan into a diving save. George Moore’s pass was heading for Ryan Moss until Young made a terrific interception. Melvin Minter was called into action, making a good tip-over from Sparks after the winger had cut in from the left wing. The half ended with Tayo Davies-Coker’s back-pass selling Minter slightly short, and the Harrow keeper picked up a knock for his troubles from Pope as he got there, just, first.
Five minutes into the second half, Harrow went ahead. Pashaj won a corner on the left, which Kurtis Cumberbatch swung in. Moss challenged Covolan, with neither getting a significant touch, and the ball travelled on to Shaun Preddie at the far post, and he calmly controlled it and drove it home.
The lead lasted only five minutes. Preddie was booked for a foul just outside the box, and the free-kick led to a shot by Budd, well saved by Minter. Not for the first time lately, it was an opposing forward, not a covering defender, who reacted quickest to the loose ball, Young equalising.
The confidence surged through the league’s bottom club. An acrobatic effort by Pamment went just over and Colbran headed over from a free-kick. However, Harrow nearly regained the lead when Moss and Charles Banya worked the ball to Bryan, who shot against the outside of the post from just outside the area. Sognaile made an important clearance at the far post, before a right-wing cross found Sparks in space beyond the far post, and Minter made a great save to keep out his shot. Importantly this time, the loose ball was cleared. But he was beaten in the 81st minute. Again Borough gave away a free-kick in a dangerous position, and Rents’s delivery was met by the giant Wild, climbing above a colliding Minter and Davies-Coker to head home.
In the aftermath it was clear that, in that collision, a motionless Davies-Coker had sustained a potentially serious injury. Referee Mr Bandara, like the referee at Haringey the other week when Howard Hall was helped, managed the situation well, allowing whatever time was needed for the necessary treatment. And credit the home crowd too: I heard not a peep of a ‘get on with it’ and when the young centre-back was stretchered off after nine minutes’ attention, it was to the applause of everyone in the excellent crowd of 592.
On came a rather rotund-looking David Taylor, just returned from his year in Australia. He went into midfield with Preddie dropping back. Harrow probed for an equaliser and Moss got between two defenders to meet Cumberbatch’s cross, but his header went wide. Seven minutes of the 13 stoppage-time that would be given had elapsed when Mr Bandara finally lost patience with the time-wasting tactics of home goalkeeper Covolan. Booking him (he’d been warned twice), he also awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box, presumably for exceeding (by some margin) the six seconds allowed for releasing the ball. Worthing lined up a wall, which broke and charged as Bryan tapped the ball to Moss, but the Harrow striker hit a low shot through the onrushing opponents and past Covolan’s right hand.
Thus ends seven consecutive league defeats, and importantly maintains an eleven-point gap over their opponents. It may well be followed by another defeat, as on Tuesday Harrow host odds-on championship favourites Billericay Town. That is really a ‘free hit’ of a game for Harrow. The real test as to whether the corner has been turned will come next Saturday, when Metropolitan Police come to The Rogers Family Stadium.
WORTHING: Lucas Covolan (booked, 90 mins), Joel Colbran, Sam Rents, Darren Budd, Jesse Starkey, Alfie Young, Reece Meekums, Kieron Pamment, Ben Pope (sub Jimmy Wild, 67 mins), Jared Rance (sub Henry Watson, 90 mins), Harvey Sparks. Unused subs: Reuben Schneider, Rian O’Sullivan, Harrison Mott.
HARROW BOROUGH: Melvin Minter, George Moore, Enock Soganile, Tayo Davies-Coker (sub David Taylor, 89 mins), Curtis Ujah, Shaun Preddie (booked, 54 mins), Charles Banya (sub Mark McLeod, 74 mins), Kurtis Cumberbatch (booked, 61 mins), Ryan Moss, Michael Bryan (booked, 90 mins), Bajram Pashaj (sub Reis Stanislaus, 74 mins). Unused sub: Kyle Beggs
Referee: Mr D Bandara
by Simon Grigor