Harrow Borough 1 Walton Casuals 1
By Harrow Borough
Harrow Borough and Walton Casuals played out an entertaining and highly competitive 1-1 draw at the Rogers Family Stadium on Tuesday evening with neither side being able to produce the knockout blow.
After the excellent win over Poole Town at the weekend Harrow Borough were hoping to continue the good work with another 3 points at home against Walton Casuals, but they reckoned without a strong performance from a Casuals side which made a mockery of their lowly league position.
Boro started with an unchanged line up from the one at the weekend and the game almost got off to the perfect start when in the first minute, Ryan Haugh crossed for Ant O’ Connor who smacked a header against Walton keeper, Denzel Gerrar’s right hand post. The ball was then scrambled to safety.
Michael Bryan continued his recent good form by putting a fine cross in from the Boro right, which neither of the Harrow forwards could get onto as the team started the game well. The early warning signs were there however, that this wasn’t going to be an easy game. On 21 minutes Ryheem Sheckleford put in a great cross to Taureen Roberts whose header was well saved by Hafed Al-Droubi from only six yards out. A good overlap by Josh Andrew after a pass from O’Connor nearly found Mark Bitmead in the penalty box but Gerrar did well to claim the ball under pressure.
Harrow were playing well and moving the ball quickly but it wasn’t as quick as it was against Poole at the weekend and Mark McLeod and Frank Keita had to work a lot harder in midfield against a determined Walton outfit. Haugh had a free kick comfortably saved whilst up the other end Roberts was linking up well with Mahrez Bettache in the Walton middle which was increasingly keeping Nathaniel Oseni and Shaun Preddie in the Harrow defence on the alert.
The deadlock was broken on 37 minutes after yet another Harrow attack went out for a corner. Haugh took the kick which cannoned back off Gerrar’s near post. The ball rebounded back to Haugh who crossed again into a crowded six yard box where Preddie bravely headed in from a melee of players to put Harrow ahead 1-0. Bradley Keetch came on for Isaac Sarpong as Casuals were increasingly getting back into the game. Roberts after a fine move on the Walton left hand side got past Josh Andrew to unleash a shot that Al-Droubi did well to push around his near post, but as half time came Boro went in deservedly 1-0 up and after hitting the post early from O’Connor it could have easily been two.
The second half started with Walton determined to get back into the game with Groai Milence beating the Boro defence from a Roberts’s cross which Al Droubi saved. Joshua Andrew went on a mazy run for Boro using his pace to beat Robb Sheridan but his finish wasn’t as good and he blazed his shot over the bar. The Walton midfield was now starting to boss the midfield, making it harder for Haugh and Andrews to give support on the wings as they had to increasingly attend to their defensive duties. Cole Brown and Sheckleford were starting to put the Boro defence under pressure. On 52 minutes Bradley Keetch nudged the ball forward of the Boro defence on the Walton right side and as Al-Droubi tried to come out and cover, Brown chipped over the keeper to score from twenty five yards out to draw the two sides level. It was now game on and Walton should have gone ahead if it was not for two outstanding double saves from Al-Droubi -Thomas Tolfrey rose above the defence and headed the ball, with the Harrow stopper diving and saving to his right. The lively Tolfrey then shot as the ball rebounded out to him, with Al-Droubi pulling off another great save.
On 62 minutes referee Mr Thomas Cooke waved away a Walton penalty appeal for hand ball against Oseni as Walton continued to press. Harrow manager Steve Baker made a double substitution, bringing on Max Holland and Andre Odetola for Mark McLeod and Mark Bitmead. Bitmead just seconds earlier drawing a good save from Gerrar with a header after a cross from O’Connor in a rare Harrow attack. Brown drew yet another good save when he broke clear one on one with just Al-Droubi to beat, the Harrow stopper keeping Harrow in the game and was in outstanding form.
There was controversy on 70 minutes when Harrow had a huge appeal for a penalty turned down. Holland found space on the Harrow left and dribbled the ball into the box. He beat a Walton defender who then held him back with hug that TV bear Gentle Ben would have been proud of. Ref Mr Cooke incredibly turned down the appeals for a penalty, incensing Boro fans and management alike. I personally have never seen a case of such a clear cut penalty in a very long time.
On 78 minutes Excellence Muhemba replaced Bryan and in the last 10 minutes Boro started to get back into the game. Andrew put in a good ball to Ryan Moss but he was unable to convert and up the other end Kyron Farrel drew another good save from Al-Droubi who I thought was Man of the Match for Harrow Borough. He also saved well from Brown who had yet another clear shot on goal.
However Harrow nearly snatched victory at the death when in injury time in a massive scramble in the Walton box after a corner, Oseni drew a fantastic save from Gerrar from six yards out. The ball bounced around and hit a Walton defender and narrowly went over the crossbar. It was so close but the ref blew his whistle and the spoils were shared - 1-1. Both teams probably felt they could have won it but on reflection I think a draw was a fair result.
On Saturday Harrow again are at home to face league leaders Taunton Town, in what looks to be yet another exciting game.
HARROW BOROUGH: Hafed Al-Droubi, Joshua Andrew, Ryan Haugh, Shaun Preddie, Nathaniel Oseni, Frank Keita, Ant O’Connor, Mark McLeod (sub Andre Odetola) Ryan Moss, Michael Bryan (sub Excellence Muhemba) Mark Bitmead (sub Max Holland) subs: Mitchal Gough, Andre Odetola (replaced Mark McLeod), Max Holland (replaced Mark Bitmead), Excellence Muhemba (replaced Michael Bryan) subs not used: Mitchal Gough, George Moore
WALTON CASUALS: Denzel Gerrar, Harry Mills, Robb Sheridan, Jerome Beckles, Thomas Tolfrey, Isaac Sarpong, (sub Bradley Keetch), Mahrez Bettache, Taureen Roberts (sub Kyron Farrel), Ryheem Sheckleford, Groai Milence, Cole Brown subs: Kyron Farrel (replaced Taureen Roberts), Bradley Keetch (replaced Isaac Sarpong), subs not used: Elgi Fejzo, Herson Alves, Reece Robins
Referee: Mr Thomas Cooke
By Gary Holderness