In result terms, it was a duplicate of the league game in mid-August, and like that night, defensive errors cost Harrow dear. However, there were again signs that, although this was a fifth consecutive defeat, things are improving in the Borough ranks and (if and) when a long injury list is reduced, the team will be competitive.
There were debuts for Fulham first year professional Georgios Okkas, signed on loan, who turned out in midfield, and a now-fit Isiah Noel-Williams, who eschewed his normal midfield berth to start at centre-back alongside Imran Uche. Alas, the start of the game was close-on identical to last month’s league encounter, with Harrow conceding early, this time in the fifth minute, as Jaden Sharman slipped, allowing Abisogun to break clear. His shot was blocked, but Cook followed up to fire across Jacob Knightbridge.
However, unlike in August, Harrow then dominated the next 40 minutes. A deep Okkas corner was headed up in the air beyond the far post by George Moore who kept his eye on the dropping ball and tried an overhead kick that was saved by Grant. Moore then had a shot blocked following a Billy Leonard corner, with Uche picking up the ball and beating two men with consummate close dribbling skills, but his final shot went wide. Joseph Lawal shot over after a nice one-two between Moore and Okkas, and then James Ewington ran onto Moore’s long ball forward, cutting inside to fire a low shot that Grant saved with an outstretched leg. Knightbridge made a full-length dive to punch away a dangerous home free-kick, before Moore headed a Leonard free-kick wide at the far post when he probably should have tested the keeper.
But for all the Harrow pressure there was no goal and they conceded a second one minute into first-half stoppage time. The hosts hit Harrow with a sucker punch, as Sanders was allowed to get between two visiting defenders and cross low from the right to the far post, where former Borough centre-back Adam Richards tapped home. The goal would have changed the mood in both dressing rooms at half-time, and Harrow looked flat when the second period began, with dire consequences after 49 minutes. Noel-Williams won a challenge, but then gave the ball away, leading to a scramble in the Borough goalmouth, which ended with Knightbridge bringing down Sanders as he was about to score. The young keeper was sent off, and Michael Bryan was ‘sacrificed’ to bring on Charlie Taylor from the bench. He might have saved Lodge’s spot-kick, the ball going under his body to make it 3-0.
A rapid Bracknell break from a Harrow corner ended with Esprit in, one-on-one with Taylor, but the keeper made a fine save. Harrow’s awful defensive vulnerability in the air was shown once again in the 56th minute, though, as a game of head tennis in their area ended with Richards heading home his second, and Bracknell’s fourth.
Fears of a second Saturday walloping in a row were, fortunately, not to be realised, and although Bracknell’s eleven men dominated the remainder of the game against Harrow’s ten, it was Borough who got the game’s only other goal, in the 62nd minute as Moore won the ball and drove round to the right of the penalty area, before crossing to the far post where Ewington converted.
There was some luck involved in Harrow not conceding again, with Taylor making a great save from Cheshire and he also kept out Goather-Braithwaite’s overhead kick. Richards also headed over when he really should have completed his hat-trick.
So, that’s the FA Cup over for Harrow for 2022-23. That might have offered some nice financial prizes, but far more important is that the team starts to pick up some league points and climbs the table. There’s a free week now to try to get some injured players back on the field (or, in one or two cases, onto it for the first time this season), before a massive double-bill starts with next Saturday’s trip to Dorchester Town, followed by the visit of Hendon on Tuesday week to The Rogers Family Stadium.
by Simon Grigor
Jacob Knightbridge (sent off, 49 mins), Taishan Griffith (booked, 66 mins), Jaden Sharman (booked, 27 mins; sub 12, h-t), Imran Uche, Isiah Noel-Williams, Billy Leonard, George Moore, Georgios Okkas, James Ewington, Michael Bryan (sub 13, 51 mins), Joshua Lawal (sub 16, 67 mins)
Subs: Ahmet Biler (on for 3, h-t), Charlie Taylor (on for 10, 51 mins), Josh Williams (not used), Lanre Ladipo (not used), Montel Brown (on for 11, 67 mins), Prince Kandolo (not used)
Simon Grant, Jack Dean (booked, 73mins), Ethan Burden, Adam Richards, Dan Bayliss (sub 17, 33mins), Ben Cook (sub 18, 75mins), Gary Abisogun, Ashley Lodge, Jordan Esprit, Darryl Sanders, Shamar Moore (sub 14,67 mins)
Subs: Mickel Platt (not used), Darnell Goather-Braithwaite (on for 11, 67mins; booked, 90 mins), Max Herbert (not used), Scott Rees (not used), Anthony Cheshire (on for 5, 33 mins), Jack Penton (on for 6, 75 mins), Michael Eacott (not used)
Referee: Referee: Mr A Bradley