HARROW BOROUGH 3 BURGESS HILL TOWN 2
Harrow finished the season on a continued high at Earlsmead on Saturday.
Borough supporters hoping for a continuation of the scintillating football played at Dorking were disappointed, as the team struggled against a physically strong and lively Burgess Hill team fighting relegation. Harrow were second best for most of the game, being 0-2 down at half time, but second half goals from the team`s three leading scorers, two of them in the last few minutes, brought a somewhat surprising victory.
With Adam Richards sidelined after injury at Dorking, Steve Baker needed to shuffle the pack, Chinua Cole, finding his way to the right venue, returned to the left side of a back 4. Burgess Hill brought the best part of 100 supporters to see the team`s fight against relegation and their noisy support added to the atmosphere of the game. Their team were more lively than Harrow from the off, with more accurate passing and the midfield winning most of the 50/50 balls. Their first chance came when Pepera committed a foul just outside of the penalty area, but the free kick came to nothing. At the other end, Anthony O`Connor got down the left wing, but his cross went to a defender, rather than the waiting Ryan Moss. Minter made a good save from a close range shot after a cross was headed back across goal. After 10 minutes, the referee, Mr Donnellan, pulled up with a leg injury and there was a 10 minute delay while a substitute Assistant was found to take over from Mr Brewer, who took the whistle.
Harrow had a chance when Michael Bryan beat two defenders and ran along the right goal line, but his cross was cut out by keeper James. In the 23rd minute there was a portent of things to come when Minter couldn`t hold the greasy ball after a shot from the left. Brivio bundled the loose ball into the net, but was judged to have fouled Minter in the process. The Harrow performance remained disjointed, with too many passes going astray, but in one slick move, Moss intercepted the ball in midfield, found Bryan, who passed to Banya in the penalty area, but he was tackled by the experienced Elphick before he could get a shot away. The Hillians took the lead in the 38th minute, when Minter again failed to hold a shot from Bennett on the left and Pat Harding got to the rebound before Minter could gather the ball. Shortly after, Minter made some amends when he tipped a header over the bar following a Burgess Hill corner.
In added time in the first half, Harrow came close to equalising when Bryan fed the ball to Moore running into the penalty area, but his well struck shot came back off the far post and was cleared. In the 5th minute of added time Harrow went 0-2 down. A speculative long clearance by the Burgess Hill defence landed midway in the Harrow half. Minter started to come forward for the ball, hesitated and took a few steps back and then thought again about coming for the ball – a sort of hokey cokey in slow motion! In the end, he was stuck in no man`s land and Lee Harding got to the ball before anyone else and had an easy job in lobbing over the unfortunate Minter. Harrow had a good chance to claw a goal back before the end of the half. Moss headed the ball over the Hillians defence to Cumberbatch, but he sent the bouncing ball well over the bar. His blushes were saved by being judged offside as he ran clear.
The pattern of play didn`t change greatly at the start of the second half. Burgess Hill had the first chance when Moore got in the way of a goal bound shot. Ryan Moss beat the Hillians` keeper to a header just outside of the penalty area, but there were no Harrow players in the box for him to cross to. Harrow`s opening goal in the 55th minute came rather out of the blue. Cumberbatch broke away with the ball in his own half and sent a long, straight ball forward. Moss got to the ball ahead of the advancing James and was able to stab the ball past him into the goal. With Harrow back in the game, they might have been expected to mount heavy pressure on the Burgess Hill goal, but this didn`t materialise. Pepera nearly gave a goal away when he made a dreadful pass out of defence, which went straight to Cadman, but the Harrow defence were able to shepherd him wide as he advanced on goal. Burgess Hill also came close when a free kick from the right flashed across goal and just eluded the head of a forward. Bryan got a cross in to Moss, but there was no power behind the ball and Moss could only head it into the arms of James. Moss had another chance when put through by Moore, but James saved with his legs. Moore had a shot of his own a few minutes later, but James gathered the ball at the second attempt.
Despite a few chances for Borough, the game seemed to be drifting towards a home defeat when, on 85 minutes, the “man of 18”, George Moore stepped into the breach. Substitute El-Sahib was unable to control a through ball on the left, but in the tussle with defenders, the ball ran inside the penalty area. Moore, for some reason in the inside left position, ran on to the ball, brushed aside a couple of feeble challenges and cut the ball back across goal into the far corner. Going into the game, Harrow had 3 leading scorers in the League, Moss (11), Moore (10) and Cumberbatch (10).Moss and Moore had added to their tally in equalising for Harrow. On 90 minutes it was Cumberbatch`s chance. Another Moore run was ended with a foul a few yards outside of the penalty area. Would Moore take the free kick that he had won? No, Cumberbatch stood firm over the ball and hit a straight shot past a poorly placed wall into the corner of the goal. Cumberbatch had a chance to score again in added time when a cross from Moss reached him unmarked just beyond the far post. He got a foot to the ball, but couldn`t divert it into the net. With Harrow`s game running some 10 minutes behind others in the League, the Burgess Hill supporters already knew that they were safe from relegation, so both sets of supporters were able to celebrate at the final whistle.
HARROW BOROUGH: Melvin Minter, George Moore, Chinua Cole, Shaun Preddie, Adam Pepera, Kurtis Cumberbatch, Charles Banya(sub Lewis Cole, 69 mins), Mark McLeod, Ryan Moss, Michael Bryan, Kurtis Cumberbatch, Anthony O’Connor (sub Ahmed El-Sahib, 63 mins) Unused subs: .Favio Merchan Rodriguez, Tarum Dawkins
BURGESS HILL: Josh James, Tariq Richards (Cautioned 52mins) (sub Emmuael Agyeman 62 mins), Tom Cadman, Ibrahim Diallo, Gary Elphick (capt. sub James Shaw 45 mins), James Richmond, Charlie Bennett, Jack Brivio, Pat Harding (sub Aaron Smith-Joseph 78 mins), Lee Harding, Sam Fisk. Unused sub: Josh Greenleaf, James Shaw
by Richard Dyett