And this was a woeful showing, in the second half especially, against a team that played for 82 minutes with ten men.
After the win against Leatherhead on Tuesday, an unchanged line-up was selected. On a surface that still showed some of the overnight frost but began the afternoon perfectly playable, Liburd shot past the post for the visitors, before Michael Bryan collected a Marc Charles-Smith cross for a shot that was blocked. After eight minutes, Harrow were given a golden opportunity to win the game when Billericay’s Akosa launched a two-footed studs-up challenge on Nik Salapatas, who did well to get out of the way. Referee Crysall brought out the red card without hesitation.
For a while, Harrow looked like they would take advantage. Bryan stepped over a Nik Salapatas corner allowing Charles-Smith a shot that was blocked. Salapatas then danced up the left side, Howard Hall picking up his half-cleared cross and driving a shot narrowly wide. Salapatas then put two inviting crosses just beyond the reach of Greg Ngoyi. But it was ‘Ricay who went ahead in the 28th minute. Michael Peacock was booked for stopping Sappleton on the edge of the area. Sappleton’s resulting free-kick came back to the taker off the Harrow wall, and he crashed home a shot that beat Nick Jupp on his near post.
Peacock went close with a 25-yarder that went narrowly wide, before Bryan created an opportunity for Salapatas who shot weakly. Charles-Smith had a shot blocked and Sekou Kaba turned onto a Bryan pass but alas sent his shot way off-target. Harrow equalised in the 40th minute. Bryan’s persistence earned him a chance to challenge for a ball he seemed to have lost, and he nodded the ball back for Greg Ngoyi to turn sharply and fire the ball past Lumley.
Harrow were close to going in at the break in front when Anthony Maissiat lifted a ball forward. Ngoyi converged on it along with Billericay’s Sheehan and keeper Lumley, heading it past them and getting clattered in the process. With Ngoyi and Sheehan lying on the ground, the ball went wide of goal.
Although they’d got back on level terms, the Harrow players hadn’t really made use of their extra man, and it was to be hoped that they would get some suitable advice at half-time, for instance to try a shorter, crisper, passing game, and to try to use one-twos to get round the back of their opponents’ defence. But when the second period began, it was Billericay who were playing the crisp passing, and they soon took control. They thought they had taken the lead in the 47th minute when Sappleton’s header from a corner was hooked off the line by Maissiat, the visitors protesting that they thought the ball had crossed the line. Bryan crossed for Salapatas to check back and put a right-footer wide. In the 56th minute, Maissiat challenged Sappleton in the box. It looked a normal tussle for the ball, but referee Crysell deemed it a foul, which seemed very harsh, but Halle wasn’t complaining as he sent Jupp the wrong way from the penalty spot.
Harrow had well over half an hour to put their extra man to use and get back into the game, but in that period of the game they were wholly inept. Maissiat forced Lumley to tip over a shot, but that was the only action the Billericay keeper was to get in that time. The passing went to pieces, the decision-making was atrocious – in particular with some ridiculous attempts on goal tried from distance when passing would have got the ball much nearer to the goal – and, most bizarrely of all, as the ground began to freeze, numerous Harrow players losing their footing while their Essex opponents had little difficulty staying on their feet. What sort of boots were the Harrow players wearing?
Results elsewhere meant that Harrow dropped back into the relegation places. They’ve now conceded more goals than anyone else in the league, an eye-watering 48 in 23 games, and continue to throw in performances like the second half here with an alarming regularity.
To those who continue to brush it under the carpet, wake up, we are in massive trouble!
HARROW BOROUGH: Nick Jupp, Howard Hall, Julian Smith, Harold Odametey (booked, 45 mins), Michael Peacock (booked, 28 mins), Anthony Maissiat (booked, 56 mins), Nik Salapatas (sub Kamaron English, 84 mins), Sekou Kaba, Marc Charles-Smith, Gregory Ngoyi, Michael Bryan (sub Jerome Walker, 64 mins). Unused subs: Daniel Dyer, John Sonuga, David Taylor.
BILLERICAY TOWN: Billy Lumley, Steve Sheehan, Teddy Nesbitt, Cyrus Mahler, Richard Halle, Glenn O’Hanlon, Gerald Akosa (sent off, 8 mins), Glenn Poole (booked, 47 mins), Ricky Sappleton (sub Afolabi Obafemi, 76 mins), Rowan Liburd, Harry Baker (sub Jack Edwards, 76 mins). Unused subs: Ryan Scott, Roman Michael-Percil, Louis Godwin-Green.
Referee: Mr A Crysell
by Simon Grigor