MERSTHAM 0 HARROW BOROUGH 1
After perhaps the best all-round team performance since the turn of the year, Harrow returned from Moatside with three points, thanks to a superb 73rd minute Kurtis Cumberbatch strike.
It had probably staggered most Harrow followers to find mid-morning that the game was on, but after a morning’s forking from some home supporters the Moatside pitch was perfectly playable, though a little heavy in one goalmouth, and it was a pleasant pre-match diversion to take part in an Easter Egg hunt: well done to the friendly lady inside the turnstiles who had laid (excuse the pun) this on.
Injuries meant that Harrow lined up in a 4-4-2 formation, thus restricting George Moore and Chinua Cole’s runs forward somewhat, but they looked comfortable with the change and took the game to the hosts early on. Lovely play by Michael Bryan took him to the by-line, but his cut-back was behind the incoming Ryan Moss. Merstham’s Henriques then made an important interception as Moss rose to head on to Charles Banya. Merstham’s first threat came when the speedy Addai got past Chinua Cole and was foiled by a good save by Melvin Minter. Lewis Cole, influential all afternoon, won a good tackle to release Moss but his shot went past the post. Howard Hall then made an important clearance after Addai had again caused problems on the left side of the Harrow defence.
After 25 minutes, Moss intercepted a back-pass and, although his shot beat Jones, Harwood cleared it off the line. In the ensuing scramble, Bryan might have shot but turned back instead and a chance was gone. Hall made another good interception to stop Lubango’s quick break, before Harwood headed Cumberbatch’s free-kick away for a corner. Hall challenged Jones for it and came down heavily on his shoulder, a huge worry for everyone given the awful injury he had suffered at Haringey earlier this season. He lay motionless for a while in the goalmouth, but Magenta Ross was soon on hand and he eventually departed, walking, with his arm in a sling – a great improvement on that awful night in White Hart Lane when it was by stretcher and emergency ambulance. Mark McLeod came on and Shaun Preddie, who had been operating in midfield, switched to central defence. Bennett shot narrowly wide for the Moatsiders as the half closed.
The second half began with Cumberbatch advancing on goal, his shot blocked as was Banya’s follow-up. Minter saved Kavanagh’s effort after Addai and Lubango had combined on the right, and then made a good tip-over from Bennett’s free-kick. A rapid break by Bryan led to Jones making a fine save to deny Banya. Addai then got past Chinua Cole and there were hearts in mouths as the excellent Adam Pepera intercepted the ensuing cross, but in doing so diverted the ball towards his own goal; however Minter reacted well to save. Moore then got forward, exchanged passes with Cumberbatch, and crashed a shot just wide of the near post. Harrow were beginning to exert control and Moore had another effort blocked, driving the ball over when it came back to him, and Moss then shot past the near post from Cumberbatch’s pass.
The breakthrough came in the 73rd minute. Tracking from left to right in the inside right channel, Cumberbatch looked for support but, finding nothing on and perhaps spotting that Jones was just a little off his line, hit a glorious drive that curled and dipped from 20 yards to find the back of the net. After Moore’s ‘entry’ last week, here was another goal of the season contender, and a mass of Borough players celebrated it with a decent turnout of Harrow travelling fans.
Collins, with a free-kick, and Addai, after cutting in from the right, put efforts over for the hosts, but Harrow continued to pose a threat and Jones made a good save to deny Moss, and Banya’s effort deflected to safety off Henriques. Minter saved Bennett’s shot and then substitute Ahmed El-Sahib’s fine run was ended by a crude challenge from Kavanagh, with Moore’s subsequent free-kick well saved by Jones.
46 points ought to be safe, but Harrow will hopefully gain confidence from this win and last week’s over Kingstonian and kick-on from here: a mid-table placing should be their not-unrealistic aim. They return to action at The Rogers Family Stadium with a double-header of games (weather permitting), against Enfield Town on Easter Monday and Lowestoft Town on Wednesday.
MERSTHAM: Ashlee Jones, Michael Abnett, Jelan Jones, Tom Kavanagh (booked, 90 mins), Tutu Henriques, Liam Harwood, Alex Addai (sub Deon Moore, 79 mins), Sean Bonnett-Johnson (sub Tom Collins, 65 mins), Charlie Penny, Dan Bennett, Alberto Lubango (sub Tayshan Hayden-Smith, 65 mins). Unused subs: Reece Hall, Malik Onwugbonu.
HARROW BOROUGH: Melvin Minter, George Moore, Chinua Cole, Adam Pepera, Howard Hall (sub Mark McLeod, 40 mins), Kurtis Cumberbatch, Charles Banya, Shaun Preddie, Ryan Moss, Michael Bryan (sub Ahmed El-Sahib, 79 mins), Lewis Cole. Unused subs: Jonathan Bell, Favio Merchan Rodriguez, Tarum Dawkins.
Referee: Mr M Smith
by Simon Grigor