BRENTFORD 4 HARROW BORO 0
By Harrow Borough
The outcome was the correct one, but the final score was very harsh. Having held their full-time opponents, a side crammed with Under-19 and Under-21 internationals, for an hour, Harrow conceded three in the final six minutes
to give the result a lopsided feel.
Steve Baker will look back at a couple of glaring misses when the scores were level and ponder that, on another day, the Cup might have been heading back to The Rogers Family Stadium.
Before the match, Baker had a dilemma regarding the goalkeeping spot. With Hafed Al-Droubi suspended, Berkeley Laurencin had been expected to deputise between the sticks, but he too had picked up a suspension. With Keval Patel sidelined with a broken finger, in had been drafted Gary Ross. Ross had last played for Borough in 2008, and now turns out for Westfield in the Bostik League South Central, and it was an inspired move as he had a brilliant match.
The Griffin Park pitch looked and played like a bowling green and, probably more used to such a surface than Harrow, the ‘hosts’ started on the front foot. Ross made an early claim from Hardy’s header, before Nathaniel Oseni and Shaun Preddie combined to stop a right-wing break after a nervous-looking Ryan Haugh had lost the ball. Frank Keita was then dispossessed, allowing Hardy to try his luck from 20 yards, Ross saving. The Harrow keeper then made his first great save of the night, going full-length to his right to push away Dasilva’s drive. Hammar was then denied twice, first by a brave save by Ross at his feet, and then by a fine Lewis Cole challenge. Harrow’s first decent attack saw Michael Bryan feed Josh Andrew, whose dangerous cross was cleared by The Bees’ defence. Dasilva’s shot was blocked, and Ross saved again from Hardy. That ongoing Harrow failing, allowing an opponent a free header from a corner, then surfaced as Edobor powered a far post header, but it was blocked.
But after half an hour of sustained Brentford pressure, Harrow came to life at the other end. First, Bryan sent Ryan Moss to the right-hand by-line and his cross found Keita’s head, but it went over the bar. After Coote’s audacious chip had gone just over Ross’s bar, Keita had another opportunity when he was gifted the ball just outside the box, but his shot lacked power and Gunnarsson, who recently turned out for Brentford at Middlesbrough in the Championship, gathered comfortably. Good work by Keita and Haugh on the left-wing then saw Keita cross for Moss, although under pressure from Gunnarsson and Edobor, nonetheless contrive to head over from only a yard or two out.
Oseni stopped a Brentford attack after Bryan had played a silly square ball across the edge of the area, and Hammar headed over from a right-wing cross. Cole then swung in a free-kick that went past attackers, defenders and keeper, passing inches wide of the far post. The half ended with Archibald’s shot deflecting off a colleague, wrong-footing Ross but going wide.
Brentford began the second half at pace. Coote got past a couple of defenders but was foiled by Ross, Hardy netting the rebound but from an offside position. Archibald then teed up Hardy whose effort beat Ross, but Preddie was there to clear off the line. Then came another golden Harrow chance, as Keita sent O’Connor clear of a square Bees back-line. He poked the ball past the advancing Gunnarsson but it went tantalisingly wide of the post. And minutes later, those misses told, as Brentford took a 60th minute lead. Harrow gave the ball away, Coote advanced and when Ross saved Archibald’s shot, Hardy followed up to net the rebound.
Archibald then broke clear and tried to ‘nutmeg’ Ross, but the keeper stood firm and saved, making an even better stop when Coote fired the rebound at goal. Harrow might have levelled when Moss and O’Connor opened up the defence and Keita burst through. Although he’d had a fine game, for the second time in the evening the midfielder’s shot lacked the power to trouble Gunnarsson.
A string of substitutions followed, with Harrow gambling by taking off midfielder Cole, who’d played really well but had picked up a booking, bringing on a forward, Excellence Muhemba, in his place. And with less of a screen in front of the back line, Harrow’s vulnerability was shown in the 84th minute as Hardy raced through the rearguard to stroke home Coote’s pass.
In the 87th minute it was 3-0, as the otherwise excellent Preddie lost the ball, Mogensen advanced on the right, and squared for Hammar to convert. And a minute later came the fourth, Coote looking suspiciously offside as he got away on the right, pulling the ball across for Mogensen to net. Ross kept the score at 4-0 with a fine save from Mogensen with almost the last kick of the match.
Harrow now turn their attentions back to league action with this Saturday’s long journey to Devon to face Tiverton Town. A top ten finish is still within their grasp, but it will require the sort of performance that a good Harrow contingent witnessed here, rather than what has been seen in the last couple of Evo-Stik outings.
BRENTFORD: Patrik Gunnarsson, Jarvis Edobor, Luka Racic (sub Jonny Mitchell, 63 mins), Jaakko Oksanen, Cole Dasilva, Fredrik Hammar, Joe Hardy (sub Gustav Mogensen, 86 mins), Ali Coote (booked, 64 mins), Jan Zamburek (sub Kolbeinn Finnsson, 71 mins), Theo Archibald (booked, 77 mins), David Titov. Unused subs: Simon Andersson, Jaden Brissett.
HARROW BOROUGH: Gary Ross, Josh Andrew, Ryan Haugh, Shaun Preddie, Nathaniel Oseni, Frank Keita, Anthony O’Connor (sub Mark Bitmead, 82 mins), Mark McLeod (sub Jordan Ireland, 68 mins), Ryan Moss, Michael Bryan, Lewis Cole (booked, 74 mins; sub Excellence Muhemba, 78 mins). Unused subs: George Fenton, Max Holland.
Referee: Mr D Simpson
Link to full match video