Harrow Boro 1 Hornchurch 0
Safe! A battling win, earned through Jon-Jo Bates’s 62nd minute goal and a terrific all-for-one rearguard action, coupled with Leatherhead’s home defeat to Kingstonian, has ensured Premier Division football will continue at Earlsmead next season.
Ryman League Premier Division, Saturday 21 April 2012
by Simon Grigor
Safe! A battling win, earned through Jon-Jo Bates’s 62nd minute goal and a terrific all-for-one rearguard action, coupled with Leatherhead’s home defeat to Kingstonian, has ensured Premier Division football will continue at Earlsmead next season. What a great achievement by Dave Anderson and Jason Goodliffe, considering how the dices were loaded against them by the mass departure so close to the kick-off in August of last campaign’s squad.
To host the team lying second in the table, Anderson made three changes to the line-up that had returned pointless from Hastings last week. Marcus Rose returned to central defence, while Watford loanee Aaron Tumwa returned in a left-midfield berth. Bates, who had scored off the bench at the Pilot Field last Saturday, replaced Tristan Toney up-front.
Still with a mathematical chance of the title, the Urchins started confidently. Anderson shot over, and Eyong surged forward to shoot across the goal. But in their first attack, Harrow had a big penalty appeal turned down when referee Mr Rubery waved play on as Rob Wolleaston was pulled down as he surged into the box. Smith drove over, Eyong’s left-foot shot was deflected over, Spencer’s shot was too high and Smith fired over again. Rose made a super clearing header from a right-wing cross under great pressure.
It was late in the half before Woolley in the visiting goal was called into action, saving smartly from a Lee Wootton strike. Tuohy failed to redirect Eyong’s cross as the half ended goalless, to some relief from the home supporters. With half-time news coming through that Hastings were winning at Lowestoft, and Leatherhead drawing at home to the Ks, the pressure was ratcheted up still further. Yassine Fehmi-Gil replaced the disappointing Tumwa at the break.
Glover headed over for Hornchurch as the second half began, but Harrow’s confidence was growing. Wootton’s powerful raid up the left forced Styles to make a good clearance for a corner, and from another corner, Danny Buckle headed Garry Jones’s inswinging delivery wide at the far post. For all their first half pressure, Jamie Jackson did not have to make a serious save until he tipped over Eyong’s header. Danny Leech, having brilliant game in an unfamiliar right-back spot, made a terrific block from a Tuohy drive before Harrow broke the deadlock in the 62nd minute. Buckle’s super through ball sent Steve Ferguson and Bates in on goal. Woolley got to the ball first but, under pressure, his fly-kick was poor. Bates picked up the ball 20 yards out and hit a terrific right footer that curled round the keeper into the corner of the net. It was the 10th league goal for ‘JJ’ this season, the first Borough player to reach double figures.
Harrow were close to doubling their lead when Wolleaston, outstanding today, worked the ball to Bates, whose cross was headed narrowly over by Buckle. Rose made another important clearing header as the Urchins pressed. The Harrow rearguard held firm, Buckle coming back to help his defence for whom the evergreen Wayne Walters was once again colossal. Behind them, Jackson again showed what a huge acquisition he has been, constantly directing operations and, in the dying moments, making a wonderful save from Tuohy, diving low to his left to turn the ball round the post. By then, Hornchurch were down to ten men, Styles having picked up one yellow card for a 80th minute scything down of Fehmi-Gil, and another for doing the same to Toney nine minutes later. If they reach the play-off final, he’ll miss it.
Borough fans can now look forward to a very rare occurrence, a meaningless game, next Saturday at Lewes, who are still in with a play-off shout, before they await the deliberations about league allocations for next season, with many pundits expecting a shift across to the Evo-Stik Southern Premier. All that matters for now is that last word – Premier!
HARROW BOROUGH: Jamie Jackson, Marcus Rose, Garry Jones, Wayne Walters, Danny Leech, Lee Wootton, Steve Ferguson, Rob Wolleaston, Danny Buckle (sub Chet Johnson, 87 mins), Jon-Jo Bates (sub Tristan Toney, 77 mins), Aaron Tumwa (sub Yassine Fehmi-Gil, h-t). Unused subs: Quincy Rowe, Rickelle Christian.
AFC HORNCHURCH: Joe Woolley, James Love, Joe Anderson, Elliot Styles (booked, 80 mins) (sent off, 89 mins), Rickie Hayles, Simon Glover (sub Carl Rook, 68 mins), Tambeson Eyong (sub Leon McKenzie, 58 mins – booked 70 mins), Jonathan Hunt, Martin Tuohy, Lewis Smith, Michael Spencer (sub Fola Orilonishe, 77 mins). Unused subs: Andy Tomlinson, Lloyd Anderson.
Referee: Mr S Rubery