HARROW BOROUGH 0 SOUTH PARK 4
Only 53 braved the heavy rain to watch this, and those that stayed away made the right decision as Harrow exited their final cup of the season, cut to ribbons by the slick passing of their Ryman South opponents.
Seven matches into 2017, Harrow have yet to register a win.
Lewis Driver’s early attempt to chip the ball over Thomas saw the ball drift wide of the post, and the same player then arrived at the near post to steer Harry Newman’s cross wide. But it was the visitors who drew first blood with a 17th minute goal. A left wing corner was half-cleared, Steve Brown got in the way of an initial effort, but the ball came to McElligott, 20 yards out, and his low shot went through a crowd of players, past Brendan Hazlett’s right hand and into the corner of the net.
South Park’s reputation has grown during their FA Trophy run, and it soon became apparent why. With former Harrow player Dan Moody, a man very unlucky with injury during his time at Earlsmead, pulling the strings in midfield, and beautiful slick, on the deck, passing-and-moving triangles being played all over the pitch, the Reigate side took complete control. Quartey’s side-footer flew across the goal from a left-wing cross, and from Rixon-Nicholls’s cross, Quartey’s header beat Hazlett but was hacked away by Lewis Ochoa. In the 32nd minute more fine football saw Moody lift the ball into the box. It was cleared but, 30 yards out, Lovegrove hit as sweet a shot as you likely to see, Hazlett left grasping thin air as the ball twisted past him into the top corner.
Brown diverted Quartey’s shot over his own bar, and Preddie blocked an effort by Rixon-Nicholls. In the 40th minute, a succession of corners ended with one delivered from the right. Three South Park players ran to the near post, taking the Harrow defence with them, leaving Elliott to come in unmarked behind them to score with a powerful header. A totally dominant half from South Park ended with Moody dancing through the Harrow defence to set up Burgess, whose fierce low drive was batted away by Hazlett.
Harrow only had pride to play for in the second half. Steve Baker made three half-time substitutions. Almost anyone could have been hooked, but Newman, Francis Babalola and George Nicholas, all looking bereft of form, were replaced by Joshua Webb, Sahr Kabba and Michael Bryan. Harrow did look somewhat better though one had to wonder too if South Park were now merely managing a comfortable lead. Ochoa broke forward to set up Joshua Webb for a shot that swerved wide. Borough hadn’t learned the lesson from the third South Park goal, as Elliott again arrived unchallenged at the far post from a corner, but this time Hazlett saved his header. Marc Charles-Smith’s cross was slightly behind Kabba, but he turned to fire a low shot that forced Thomas to make his first save of the evening. Hazlett saved well from Burgess, Thomas held an angled effort from Charles-Smith, and Bryan found Kabba with a lovely pass, his shot going past the near post.
The Borough defence was again carved open by South Park’s slick passing, Quartey denied this time by Hazlett’s legs. South Park netted their fourth in the 89th minute when Ochoa gave the ball away, Gill picking it up and curling a delightful right-foot finish round Hazlett.
Bryan played a one-two with Kabba and floated his effort over the bar, Charles-Smith delayed his shot too long when presented with a decent opportunity, and Thomas made another, rare, save to keep out Kabba’s redirection of a Kurtis Cumberbatch cross.
Although with a fixture backlog in the league no tears are likely to be shed about a departure from the Alan Turvey Trophy, there should nonetheless be concerns over the form of a number of individuals at a time when the squad is looking as thin as it has all season. Given Saturday’s injury to Michael Peacock, thought to be a sprained ankle, the 3-5-2 formation which had stopped the leaking of goals has had to be put away for a while, and without the departed David Taylor and the injured Mark McLeod, the midfield is lacking an enforcing presence. Harrow face a very tough task this Saturday when league leaders Bognor Regis Town come to Earlsmead. However, they’ve responded well earlier this season in ‘games immediately after a hammering’: they will need to do so again here.
HARROW BOROUGH: Brendan Hazlett, Lewis Ochoa, Andy Lomas, Shaun Preddie, Steve Brown, Kurtis Cumberbatch, Francis Babalola (sub Michael Bryan, h-t), George Nicholas (sub Joshua Webb, h-t), Marc Charles-Smith, Lewis Driver, Harry Newman (sub Sahr Kabba, h-t). Unused sub: Josh Webb.
SOUTH PARK: Callum Thomas, Dean Lovegrove (booked, 69 mins), Luke Elliott, Jack Stafford, Asa Rixon-Nicholls, Jake Gill, James McElligott (sub Ben Senior, 64 mins), Dale Burgess, Kofi Quartey, Dan Moody (sub Joe Jackson, 77 mins), Ben King. Unused sub: Kieran Lavery.
Referee: Mr S Bates
by Simon Grigor