WALTON CASUALS 3 HARROW BORO 2
For the second Saturday running, Harrow contrived to throw away a leading position, returning pointless from an intensely-frustrating afternoon on the banks of the Thames.
George Fenton returned to the starting line-up, taking the place of Mitchal Gough, serving the first game of his suspension following his post-match stupidity at Biggleswade. Meanwhile the Walton line-up was bizarre. Not only did it feature two shirt numbers not listed on their teamsheet, that teamsheet also did not include the name, or shirt number, of the substitute who scored what proved to be the winner. One can only hope that this was incompetence on the part of the home officials rather than a ‘dark arts’ attempt to conceal the names of someone who was lining up in orange and black from the Harrow management who had probably watched them at an earlier date. One imagines a dressing room conversation: ‘Remember what we said about Holness? Well, not to worry, he’s not playing.’ Coupled with one of the worst tannoy systems in the league, this was not an afternoon when your match reporter (who also found that Walton did not adhere to the League’s instruction to admit three visiting media members) found it easy to work out who was doing what for Harrow’s opponents.
At Biggleswade last week, Harrow scored after 14 seconds. Here they should have done so in ten. Frank Keita’s long ball found Anthony O’Connor getting past Sheckleford with only Gerrar to beat. But his shot lacked both power and placement and the home keeper saved easily. O’Connor put another effort wide but Harrow’s front-foot start was rewarded with a seventh-minute goal. George Moore got into the box on the right, turned onto his left foot and hit a low shot that Gerrar neither pushed aside nor held. As the ball squirmed from his grasp, Ryan Moss was first to react and turned it into the net.
Gerrar saved Moss’s far post shot from Lewis Cole’s cross, and then made a desperate but fine stop of Moore’s pile-driver which was heading into the top corner. Unsighted by Mills, Moss was struck on the chest by Moore’s dropping cross. Walton’s first effort on goal was by a Harrow player, a strange back-pass from Fenton that went past Hafed Al-Droubi and, fortunately, past the post too. Keita should then have doubled the Harrow lead, as he got to a Preddie cross but didn’t get enough purchase on the ball, which went wide of the far post. Bennett then got in on the Harrow goal, stopped by Al-Droubi’s feet and seeing his follow-up effort deflected wide. Farrell’s shot from the edge of the box flew wide , before another 20-yarder from Moore drew a full-length save from Gerrar. Bennett headed wide for the hosts from a cross from ex-Harrow wide man Taurean Roberts, before Harrow again threw away a chance to double their lead, and a really good chance it was, Keita’s through-ball sending Moss clear only for the Harrow skipper to screw the ball horribly wide.
So, the interval arrived with Harrow fine value for their lead but with most visiting followers worried that it was by only one goal. And, although Moss shot over after a marauding run, it wasn’t long before Casuals levelled, as Battie’s low 53rd minute free-kick was met by a near-post flick by Bennett. The impetus of the game had changed, and Hustwick ought to have given the hosts the lead as he arrived unchallenged at the far post only to shoot wide.
But after Dylan Kearney replaced a misfiring Moss, Harrow regained a foothold and O’Connor’s angled shot was deflected onto the near post by Gerrar, with Moore firing over in the follow-up. Al-Droubi then pulled off a fine save at the other end as he tipped away a Roberts shot bound for the top corner. More substitutions followed, among them the hosts’ introduction of Holness, who as noted was not even listed in their line-up. The substitute who had an immediate impact, however, was Excellence Muhemba, whose 74th minute shot deflected off a home defender and spun to the far post where an alert Kearney headed Harrow back into the lead. But it didn’t last long. With a noisy helicopter taking-off from the next-door sports field and maybe causing a loss of concentration, Casuals attacked up the right wing in the 78th minute. Ryan Haugh was beaten and the ball was played into the middle where an initial shot was blocked, but the ball was redirected to Ewington, who converted at the far post.
In scenes all-too-familiar from a week ago, Harrow just couldn’t organise themselves once they’d been pegged back, and in the 81st minute, a clever free-kick routine saw the ball played past the Harrow wall for Ewington, whose shot was parried by Al-Droubi, but Holness was first to the loose ball to head it in.
Harrow looked shell-shocked and Al-Droubi kept out Holness and Ewington, but a Moss shot over, and a Kearney drive that stung the palms of Gerrar, kept the visiting support hopeful that an equaliser might happen. But it didn’t.
Harrow now have a fortnight’s break from league action before a trip to Swindon Supermarine on 17th November. In that time they have two cup-ties, the first being this Tuesday night when they host Northwood in the Middlesex Senior Cup.
WALTON CASUALS: Denzel Gerrar, Harry Mills, Kyron Farrell, Alex Kelly, Ryheem Shackleford, Max Hustwick, Taurean Roberts, Jack Battie (sub Nathan Wood, 83 mins), James Ewington (sub Ronald Sabowale, 90 mins), Lartey Sarpong, Dan Bennett (sub Luke Holness, 72 mins). Unused subs: Sonny Black, Jean-Luc Kinsaba.
HARROW BOROUGH: Hafed Al-Droubi, George Moore, Ryan Haugh, George Fenton, Shaun Preddie, Frank Keita, Anthony O’Connor (sub Excellence Muhemba, 72 mins), Mark McLeod (booked, 80 mins), Ryan Moss (sub Dylan Kearney, 69 mins), Michael Bryan (sub Shpat Ismajli, 72 mins), Lewis Cole. Unused subs: Lee Pearce, Samuel Olanrewaju.
Referee: Mr T Ellsmore
by Simon Grigor