Clapton 0 Harrow Borough 7
Their Essex Senior League opponents were doughty, but limited. Nonetheless Harrow followers will be hoping that this comprehensive victory will have the same carry-forward effect into their league form
as the 9-3 Middlesex Charity Cup success at North Greenford had in December.
With Hafed Al-Droubi advised to rest after his knock at Basingstoke, Steve Baker had signed Ibrahim Ugradar, recommended by Hafed and recently with Sporting Bengal and Tilbury, as temporary cover. And there was a welcome return for George Fenton, cleared to play after meeting with the club surgeon about his hip problem at the weekend. This meant a three-man back-line of Fenton, Mitchal Gough and Nathaniel Oseni, and thus a start in midfield for Shaun Preddie.
On an already heavy pitch that was to become boggier with the incessant heavy rain, and later sleet, Harrow began strongly. Phillips in the home goal kept out Preddie’s header from Lewis Cole with his feet, and then used his legs again to repel Gough’s effiort from Frank Keita’s inswinging free-kick. Another great Cole corner dropped to the ground in the six-yard box without a Harrow player on hand to convert. In the 16th minute the deadlock was broken, as Cole got away on the left and hit a deep cross to the far post, where Ryan Moss initially slipped over as he attempted to hook the ball home but, from a prone position, managed to do so at the second or third try.
Moss returned the favour to Cole, setting up the midfielder for a low drive that whistled narrowly wide. Borough doubled their advantage after 26 minutes. George Moore sent Preddie in on the right and his low cross was finished emphatically by Anthony O’Connor.
Oseni sold Ugradar just a tad short with a 29th minute back-pass. The debutant was off his line quickly and got to the ball just before home forward Charls, but was clattered in the process. Charls was yellow-carded for going in too aggressively, while Ugradar resumed after lengthy treatment. O’Connor chased down a long ball forward, setting up Keita whose shot was deflected over. A deep Cole cross was volleyed over by Fenton, beyond the far post, before O’Connor got through and past Phillips but could only find the side-netting from a tight angle. Shephard made an important clearing header as a first-half of one-way traffic came to an end.
Clapton showed some early spirit in the second half with Ugradar touching Fallaise’s shot onto the post. But in the 49th minute Moore intercepted a pass by Palmer and send O’Connor clear in the inside-right channel. He ran on to hit a low drive past substitute keeper Smith’s right hand into the far corner.
Gough and Fenton combined to dispossess Reed, before a fourth Harrow goal arrived in the 58th minute, as O’Connor turned provider, crossing from the right for Moss to control, turn and blast in from twelve yards.
Harrow’s substitutes were probably torn between getting some football and remaining snug on the bench, but three were brought on in quick succession, and while Harrow were adjusting to the changes the hosts had a good spell. Ryan Haugh made a fine block of a Ajoodha shot, and then Shephard rose highest from a corner to bullet a header against the Harrow bar. If there was a substitute licking his lips for some action, it was probably Dylan Kearney, and he continued his great run of goalscoring in the 73rd minute as he disposed a defender and ran on to fire past Smith. Three minutes later it was 0-6 with the best goal of the night. Cole advanced and sent Max Holland away on the left. His ball into the area was met by a first time Keita left-foot shot that flashed in off the underside of the bar.
Kearney was then through on goal again but Smith drove him wide and saved his angled shot, but the seventh Borough goal came in the 80th minute, O’Connor completing his hat-trick with a confident spot-kick after Haugh had been unceremoniously bundled over.
Spirited Clapton went close to the goal they probably deserved, first when Reed broke off from an entertaining argument with his manager to volley across goal from Kromann’s cross, and then when Ugradar made a fine save, going down to his left to push Greenslade’s shot round the post. In the dying minutes referee Hurst, who’d had an excellent game, denied Borough a second penalty when Josh Andrew appeared to be tripped as he drove into the area, and then Kearney made a bid for ‘miss of the season’, taking O’Connor’s pass and going past Smith, before tracking across the goal but shooting wide when he got there.
With a host of league action affecting the upper ends of the table, including news that Taunton had seen two players dismissed – is one allowed a small degree of schadenfreude? – the chasing pack closed in on the final play-off place that Harrow are now clinging onto by just a point. They need to get back to winning ways in the league and this Saturday host Walton Casuals.
CLAPTON: Joseph Phillips (sub Toby Smith, h-t), Lanre Vigo, Conor Conor, Dominic Shephard, James Fallaise (wore No.18), Ahmed Mohammed, Ryan Reed, Jason Ajoodha, Jaydn Charls (booked, 29 mins; sub Jacob Kromann, h-t), Andy Greenslade, Giovanni Palmer (sub Ali Alnashi, 54 mins). Unused subs: Leon Lewis, Warren Isoka.
HARROW BOROUGH: Ibrahim Ugradar, George Moore (sub Josh Andrew, 59 mins), Ryan Haugh, Shaun Preddie, Mitchal Gough, George Fenton (sub Max Holland, 64 mins), Frank Keita, Nathaniel Oseni, Ryan Moss (sub Dylan Kearney, 64 mins), Anthony O’Connor, Lewis Cole. Unused subs: Andre Odetola, Michael Bryan.
Referee: Mr J Hurst
By Simon Grigor