Seemingly still affected in the first half by the malaise that had characterised their performance against Hendon, Harrow came to life once Spencer Bellotti had netted a superb equaliser early in the second period, and ended up comfortably bringing back three points from Essex for the second time this month.
Though very much right-footed, new signing Daniel May started at left-back, while Michael Barima, Michael Peacock, Harold Odametey and Bellotti all returned to the starting line-up. The hosts had been buoyed by the return to their ranks of record scorer Higgins, but any fear that Harrow might be up against it from the start were quickly dispelled, as the game began very lethargically, Gilbey’s turn and shot wide the only effort of note at either end in the first 20 minutes. Harrow’s first opportunity was a Peacock header from a May corner, that the home defence allowed to bounce, but the ball was hacked clear just before Bellotti could pounce on it. Hughes in the Rocks’ goal was tested by a fine outswinging Ola Williams cross, but stretched his fingers to, just, divert the ball from Bellotti’s head.
A dull half was nearing its conclusion when Anthony Page was penalised near the right-hand corner flag in the 40th minute. East Thurrock took the free-kick short, it was worked back to Gilbey, and what looked like a cross from him found its way past players of both sides, including Charlie Horlock in the Harrow goal, and ended up in the net.
At the start of the second half, Harrow were no better, and when Page and Barima got in a mess, Smith ran on to shoot across goal. It was a let-off, and Harrow prospered from it in the 51st minute when Marc Charles-Smith headed the ball on to Bellotti, who timed his angled run perfectly beyond the defence and placed a precise first-time finish low past Hughes’s right hand.
Immediately, the same combination almost came off again, Charles-Smith feeding Bellotti who freed himself from a defender to shoot just over. As Harrow began to find their game, Hughes had to tip over a fierce deflected May free-kick, and an Odametey shot was blocked.
Jake Gilbert came on for Francis Otira, with Peacock dropping back from midfield to partner Page. Immediately, Peacock and Horlock collided when going for the same ball, Page on hand to clear the situation, but both Peacock and his keeper required treatment before they could resume. After 68 minutes, a Bellotti shot on the turn won Harrow a corner, which was brilliantly delivered by Steve Butterworth to Peacock, coming in beyond the far post, and his powerful downward header went in with the help of deflections off Hughes and the post.
Page headed wide at the far post, and a lovely move saw Williams free Bellotti, whose cross was met by a stretching Odametey, the ball flying wide. Odametey was then crowded out as he tried to dribble past defenders after Charles-Smith had robbed a defender of the ball. The game was in its 90th minute when Williams was fouled on the left. With neither centre-half venturing forward, Butterworth tried his luck with an effort direct on goal from out wide, and it took Hughes by surprise: the home keeper got across his goal but could only touch the ball on to the post, from where it rebounded over the line.
The win takes Harrow up to 10th, and they will be looking to build on it when they entertain Hampton & Richmond Borough, who got their first points of the season today with a win over Lewes, this Tuesday evening at Earlsmead.
EAST THURROCK UNITED: David Hughes, Connor Witherspoon, Tom Stephen, Simon Peddie, Ben Wood, Nicky Symons, David Bryant, Mitchell Gilbey, Sam Higgins, Lewis Smith (booked, 74 mins), Reece Harris (sub Ross Parmenter, 81 mins). Unused subs: Alan Vezza, Ryan Sammons, Ryan Boswell.
HARROW BOROUGH: Charlie Horlock, Michael Barima, Daniel May, Michael Peacock, Francis Otira (sub Jake Gilbert, 63 mins; booked, 90 mins), Anthony Page, Harold Odametey, Ola Williams, Marc Charles-Smith (sub Shaun Lucien, 90 mins), Steve Butterworth, Spencer Bellotti. Unused subs: Adam Louth, Ryan Debattista, Smith Tiesse.
Referee: Mr L Crowhurst
by Simon Grigor