HARROW BOROUGH 2 THURROCK 0
A second-half brace from Kurtis Cumberbatch, and a first league clean sheet since the start of December, brought three massive points to Harrow, thereby creating a little more breathing space for them from the foot of the table.
For the third Saturday in four, a dry start to the day had turned to increasingly heavy rain. But unlike at Billericay and Dorking, the pitch at the Rogers Family Stadium was playable at 3pm, though it did cut up during the afternoon. Borough were missing the ill Sahr Kabba and the suspended Mark McLeod, but welcomed back Chinua Cole. Chinua’s namesake, Lewis, made his first start for Harrow, Charles Banya partnered Ryan Moss up-front, and Howard Hall took David Longe-King’s place in a three-man central defence.
Harrow nearly scored in the first fifteen seconds, Banya’s deep cross from the left met by a George Moore shot past the far post. Thurrock then might have taken the lead as Winn held off Shaun Preddie’s challenge but clipped the ball over the bar. In the 17th minute, Moore sent Banya through. He cut back past a defender to open the way for a shot but, faced with just McNamara to beat, blazed over. Michael Bryan’s corner was then cleared back to him, and his cross to the far post led to a scramble that concluded with Moore’s shot blocked. Moss then headed the ball on for Banya, who was again one-on-one with McNamara; this time his shot was on target but the visiting custodian saved. And then Banya had another chance, this time put through by Moore and Moss combining, but this time he was stopped by a double challenge by Oseyemi and former Harrow skipper Ujah. Moss had the ball in the net but Banya, provider this time, had been flagged offside.
Cumberbatch had a shot on the turn blocked after good work by Bryan but after all Harrow’s domination, it took an outstanding save from Melvin Minter, leaping to his right to claw away Spence’s shot that was arrowing towards the top corner. Ujah threw himself in the way of another Banya shot, sending it over the bar, and then Nouble was presented with the ball by a Minter fumble but, from a tight angle, sent the ball wide of the near post. An entertaining half ended with Hall making a fine clearing header from a right-wing cross.
An altercation in the tunnel at the interval between two Thurrock players, Ujah and Ogunrinde, saw a window broken and a bloodied hand for brave Harrow steward Keith Loddy who got himself between the combatants, neither of whom emerged for the second half. And maybe Thurrock were still adjusting to their double change in the 50th minute, as Moss sent Moore away on the right, and his low cross was turned into the net from three yards by the inrushing Cumberbatch.
Bryan’s shot was blocked, Moore driving the rebound wide from the edge of the box, and McNamara made a fine save to tip away Banya’s shot from 20 yards. At the other end, Chinua Cole deflected a shot wide, before Winn’s cross reared up off Hall forcing Minter to make a good claim. Moss twisted away from a defender on the right and fired in a low left-footer that McNamara saved. Minter then made a bizarre save, rushing out, falling over one of his own defenders but managing to head the ball clear as he fell forward. The Harrow keeper then made a more conventional save, but a very fine one, diving low to his left to turn round Spence’s shot.
Banya was foiled by McNamara as he attempted to beat him at the near post with a low drive having cut in from the left, before Thurrock substitute Cave was just off-target with a cross-shot. Harrow made the points safe in the 87th minute as Lewis Cole capped a fine game by holding up the ball on the edge of the box before laying it to his right to Cumberbatch, who steadied himself before driving the ball low past McNamara’s left hand into the corner. Minter made a fine save in stoppage time to ensure that first clean sheet of 2018.
Harrow’s next league game is a trip to the Metropolitan Police next Saturday. Before then, Tuesday night sees them make the very short journey to Rayners Lane for their Middlesex Charity Cup Second Round tie.
HARROW BOROUGH: Melvin Minter, George Moore, Chinua Cole, Shaun Preddie (booked, 81 mins), Howard Hall, Adam Pepera, Charles Banya (sub Anthony O’Connor, 77 mins), Kurtis Cumberbatch, Ryan Moss, Michael Bryan (sub Kyle Beggs, 88 mins), Lewis Cole. Unused subs: Favio Merchan Rodriguez, David Longe-King.
THURROCK: Ben McNamara, Reece Morgan, Remi Sutton, Perry Dunn, Curtis Ujah (sub Joel Brown-Bampoe, h-t), Joe Oseyemi, Jordan Clark, Lewwis Spence, Timothy Ogunrinde (sub Charlie Stimson, h-t; booked, 81 mins), Ronnie Winn, Joel Nouble (sub Reece Cave, 70 mins). Unused sub: Toby Smith
Referee: Mr J Creswick
by Simon Grigor