FOLKESTONE INVICTA 1 HARROW BOROUGH 3
On a bitterly, bitterly cold afternoon on the Kent coast, here was the best Harrow performance since those warm days of August
(and in particular that balmy evening at Wingate & Finchley). Against a side lying fourth in the table, with 15 points from their last six games, Borough produced a superb counter-attacking display built on solid defensive foundations, and capped it all in stoppage time with probably the goal of the season by the marvellous Michael Bryan.
With Mark McLeod suspended, Shaun Preddie moved into midfield and also captained the side. Adam Pepera made his league debut alongside Tayo Davies-Coker at the back. After a dull start, Harrow were the first to threaten and indeed should have gone in front, Kurtis Cumberbatch firing over from eight yards after Sahr Kabba had roasted left-back Blanks and laid the ball to him on a plate. Kabba then combined with Charles Banya to again make inroads on the right, this time creating half-chances for Bryan and Cumberbatch, both blocked. Heard then fired across goal for the hosts after a cross from the right.
There was then a moment of huge controversy, that should have assistant referee Mr Jamie Eacott thankful that the result turned out the way it did. Banya beat home keeper Roberts to the ball and took it to the right-hand by-line, pulling the ball across where Heard stumbled it into his own goal. The celebrations were cut short by the realisation that, astonishingly, Mr Eacott had his flag raised for the ball going out of play. It most definitely had not. Complete and utter incompetence, fortunately for him eased by what Borough went on to do.
But first they came under threat at the other end. Melvin Minter made a great save to turn Hasler’s free-kick round the post. He then tipped away Hasler’s low, fast, flat corner and reacted brilliantly to tip over McCann’s follow-up strike. The resulting corner was cleared by Harrow and, just inside the Folkestone half, Kabba got hold of the ball in the inside left channel. He ran at Vincent, twisting inside him, and hit a low right-foot shot that whistled past Roberts at his near post. The time, 23 minutes.
Bryan and Preddie then set up Cumberbatch for a sweet shot that went narrowly past Roberts’s right-hand post, and Kabba got to the left-hand by-line, his cross to Ryan Moss intercepted. Minter tipped away McCann’s dipping cross, and Yusuff, pressurised by Pepera, shot over.
In the 39th minute, Harrow doubled their lead, and it was another rapid, pacy break that did the trick. Banya released Kabba on the right and he skinned Blanks before sliding the ball across for Banya to calmly convert from just outside the six-yard box.
The half ended with Taylor shooting over for the hosts, and Bryan driving a cross from the left too high for his supporting colleagues. Folkestone made two changes at half-time, one of those withdrawn being Blanks, who probably had twisted blood from his mauling by Banya and Kabba. Folkestone put together their best passing move of the match which ended with Heard’s effort cleared off the line by Chinua Cole, once again hugely impressive and looking like a super signing. Heard threatened again with a diving header, wide, and was then stopped by Davies-Coker’s well-timed challenge as he ran on to a dropping ball.
Harrow suffered a blow when Preddie pulled up with what looked like a hamstring injury, Greig Stewart coming on and Moss taking the captain’s armband. Minter made a good save from another Heard header, before Stewart’s driving break forward fed Moss, whose cut-back from the left was scrambled clear by the home defence. Minter then made a brave save, with his feet, from McCann.
Kabba went off after a performance that suggests the sparkle from last season’s loan period has returned, Anthony O’Connor coming on for a chance to shine against his former club. O’Connor immediately charged down a clearance and created a half-chance for Moss, who spun and shot past the near post. McCann fired high and wide for Folkestone, but the hosts then got a chink of hope in the 87th minute as George More, who otherwise had been very sound, allowed a ball to run across him, and Yusuff picked it up and dipped a sweet shot over Minter.
A couple of weeks ago, this might have led to a Harrow panic, but not today. With the game in its 91st minute, Bryan picked the ball up about 40 yards out and instead of heading for the corner flag, ran at the defence. He beat one, two, three and four defenders before sliding the ball across Roberts into the far corner and provoking player-fan celebrations of the type seen at Margate in the FA Cup last year.
With half their league fixtures now fulfilled, and 28 points banked, Harrow now have a fixture-free midweek, no bad thing given the weather forecast, before they entertain Leiston at the Rogers Family Stadium next Saturday.
FOLKESTONE INVICTA: Tim Roberts, Josh Vincent (booked, 26 mins), Nat Blanks (sub Finn O’Mara, h-t), Micheal Everitt (sub Ronnie Dolan, h-t), Callum Davies, Matt Newman, Sam Hasler (sub Jordan Wright, 83 mins), Scott Heard, Joe Taylor, Ade Yusuff, Kieron McCann. Unused subs: Ryan Cooper, Nick Shaw.
HARROW BOROUGH: Melvin Minter, George Moore, Chinua Cole, Tayo Davies-Coker, Adam Pepera, Shaun Preddie (sub Greig Stewart, 62 mins), Charles Banya (sub Kyle Beggs, 83 mins), Kurtis Cumberbatch, Ryan Moss (booked, 26 mins), Sahr Kabba (sub Anthony O’Connor, 76 mins), Michael Bryan.
Referee: Mr L Dyson
by Simon Grigor