HARROW BOROUGH 0 MARGATE 4
A couple of dubious refereeing decisions were contributory factors, but so were yet more defensive howlers as Harrow were brushed aside by a Margate side that showed themselves not only to be competent footballers but also masters of the darker side
of the game.
Chinua Cole was, once again, unavailable, so Charles Banya lined up as left wing-back as Borough again used the 3-5-2 formation that had brought two successive victories. But whereas in those two games Harrow had leapt into an early lead, here it was the visitors who did so. Adam Pepera and David Longe-King both failed to deal with a through ball, and Chiedozie found himself taking on Shaun Preddie inside the Harrow box. Preddie tackled. Yes, there was contact on Chiedozie, but it was minimal and surely not enough for the Margate No.9 to collapse to the ground. But down he went, and referee Mr Rayment pointed to the spot. Chiedozie picked himself up to send Melvin Minter the wrong way from the spot and give Margate a second-minute lead.
Ryan Moss, with a header saved and a shot wide, had two efforts for Harrow, but Chiedozie should have doubled the Margate lead when he ran from the halfway line and broke through a tackle by George Moore. Faced with Minter, he lifted the ball over the keeper but over the bar too. Moore exchanged passes with Moss but scuffed his shot from the angle of the penalty area.
Buoyed by one dodgy decision, the visitors were heavily ‘in the ear’ of the officials, both on the field and from the dugout, and they had a heavy moan about a strong, but legitimate, challenge by Mark McLeod. McLeod would have been well-advised to keep quiet for a few minutes but he made another robust challenge in the 27th minute, right in front of the Margate dugout, his opponent collapsing to the floor as if shot. Those on the terraces nearby were pretty unanimous that McLeod had used an arm, but not an elbow. But Mr Rayment went to his pocket and the colour of his card was red. If they already had a mountain to climb, Harrow now had to do so, Keith Loddy-like, with one arm tied behind their back. Poor decision, almost certainly, but really McLeod didn’t need to make that challenge in that part of the field at that moment in the game.
But Harrow’s defence were also helping their Kent opponents. Pepera stumbled on the ball, allowing Haysman in on goal, but Minter kept him out. Moore shot across goal after a short corner, and Sahr Kabba should have done much better than his awful header from Michael Bryan’s cross. Despite a sticky, bobbly pitch, Bryan’s dribbling was causing ‘Gate some issues, and the feeling that Harrow weren’t getting fair treatment from Mr Rayment grew further when Martin got away scot-free with a body-check with added arms on the Ulsterman, a challenge that looked worse than McLeod’s offence.
The Harrow defence then made a collective mistake that allowed the visitors to double their lead, in the 39th minute. Moore’s clearance went straight to Chiedozie on the edge of the box, he by-passed Longe-King and Pepera with ease, Collin worked the ball further to the right, but Haysman’s shot was going wide until Pepera diverted it past Minter into his own net.
Moss arrived at the far post to dive and glance Bryan’s corner wide when it seemed easier to score, and Harrow trooped off two goals and a man down. The struggling Longe-King was hooked at the break, Lewis Cole coming on for his Harrow debut. Harrow had to resume strongly if they were to have any hope of getting back in the game but Margate’s third, in the 47th minute, killed off the contest. Evans and Haysman made inroads into the left side of the Harrow defence, and the ball was cut back for Collin to clip low past Minter into the far corner.
Cole and Moss set up Cumberbatch to shoot wide from the edge of the box, but Minter had to make a good save to tip over Wynter’s shot. In the 58th minute, Martin broke clear on the left, and his low cross was turned in by Chiedozie at the far post.
With half an hour still to go, there was a chance that what was already a thrashing could turn into a deluge. And it was Minter who stopped further goals. He made a fine save to stop Chiedozie, through on goal, tipped away May’s attempted lob, and made a super save to turn over Chiedozie’s fierce drive. At the other end, Howard Hall forced a decent save from Pidgeley, and Cole’s shot was blocked by Evans.
Harrow’s fans will fear, with past evidence to support their worries, that this defeat could onset another dismal run. Much will depend on Steve Baker getting a positive reaction from his side, whose next game is next Saturday when they travel to Dorking Wanderers.
HARROW BOROUGH: Melvin Minter, George Moore, Charles Banya, Shaun Preddie, David Longe-King (sub Lewis Cole, h-t), Adam Pepera, Kurtis Cumberbatch, Mark McLeod (sent off, 27 mins), Ryan Moss (sub Anthony O’Connor, 76 mins), Michael Bryan, Sahr Kabba (sub Howard Hall, 68 mins). Unused subs: David Taylor, Favio Merchan Rodriguez.
MARGATE: Lenny Pidgeley, Jack Evans, Tom Wynter, James Rogers, Liam Friend, Ben Swift, Kane Haysman (sub Aaron Simpson, 76 mins), Sam Blackman (sub Jay May, 77 mins), Jordan Chiedozie, Frannie Collin (sub Lee Prescott, 66 mins), Dave Martin. Unused subs: Thomas Taylor, Sidney Sollis.
Referee: Mr A Rayment
by Simon Grigor