HARROW BORO 4 POOLE TOWN 0
By Harrow Borough
THarrow won this game by adopting a route 1 strategy, using Ant O`Connor`s pace down the middle. On the balance of play the 4-0 scoreline flatters Harrow, but great credit must be given to the previously leaky defence in keeping a clean sheet .
Steve Baker selected a 3 man forward line, with O` Connor starting on the right, Moss in the middle and Bitmead on the left. Frank Keita returned in midfield for the suspended Cole. As usual, Harrow kicked towards the school end in the first half. On a surprisingly bumpy pitch, Poole dominated the early play, controlling the ball better and outmuscling the Harrow players in midfield. From a right side throw in Dickson was allowed to run unchallenged into the penalty area, but his cross was cleared. Harrow were pursuing a long ball strategy, which was to prove so successful later in the game, but in the early exchanges allowed Poole to regain possession quickly and pressure the Harrow goal.
A Keita free kick from the right nearly reached Ryan Haugh at the far post, but was cut out by goalkeeper Cairney and an Andrew cross was just too high for the 3 Harrow forwards waiting in the area. At the other end, Brooks turned McLeod and put Scrimshaw through, but he was just offside. From a throw in down the left a Poole forward was allowed to run in on goal, where his shot was turned across the goalmouth by Al-Droubi,but,fortunately for Harrow, no other Poole player had arrived for a tap in. At the start of the game, Ryan Moss was in the centre of the Harrow attack, marked by the giant Whisken. Moss was, unsurprisingly, having little success with the long balls, so switched with O`Connor, who could use his pace to cause problems with balls played over the Poole defence. And so it proved, when Harrow opened the scoring, against the balance of play, on 28 minutes. O`Connor ran clear of the Poole defence in chasing a Harrow clearance. Cairney was quick off his line and got to the ball first, but instead of heading it out for a throw in, he chose to send the ball towards the centre circle. There it found Keita running out of defence and without breaking stride he calmly and skilfully stroked the ball forward 40 yards into an open goal.
The goal didn`t greatly alter the pattern of play, with Poole players generally getting to the ball ahead of Harrow, but the home team were getting a little more into the game. Bitmead picked up a Moss header and ran on goal from the right. The ball found its way to O`Connor at the near post, but he was surrounded by 2 defenders and the keeper and couldn`t get a shot away. Shortly after, he again got clear of the Poole defence from a long ball, but was judged offside. As the half drew to a close, Preddie made a rare excursion into attack and hit a quality crossfield ball to O`Connor, who beat a defender and shot, but the ball was blocked for a corner.
Harrow doubled their lead 4 minutes into the second half. From a midfield tussle, the ball ran to an unmarked Michael Bryan just inside the Poole half. He looked up and placed a perfectly weighted ball over the Poole defence which O`Connor raced on to. He ran into the penalty area to the left and with Cairney advancing on him managed what appeared to be only a feeble shot. A groan went up from the Harrow supporters, but this was quickly suppressed as it was realised that the ball was trickling, ever so slowly, into the far corner of the goal. If O`Connor meant this as a deliberate flick, it was very cleverly done! Preddie entered the action again when he picked up the clearance from a Harrow free kick and crossed to O`Connor in the middle of a crowded goal, but he headed wide. Poole were still having plenty of the play and getting the ball into the Harrow penalty area, but the defence, through blocks and tackles were dealing with these attacks without calling Al-Droubi into action. It would be great if the defence could continue this success in the coming games. Harrow`s third goal came on 54 minutes, enabling the supporters to start to relax. Another long ball reached Bitmead and a Poole defender on the left. Bitmead managed to gain control of the ball and hit a great crossfield pass to Keita running forward unmarked. He ran into the penalty area to the right, feinted to go further right, which tricked Cairney into following his move and opened up most of the goal for Keita to place the ball into.
Moss was the next to benefit from a long ball and he got clear on the left, but shot straight into Cairney`s hands. His goal touch seems to have deserted him at the moment. After a disappointing first half, when he found it difficult to control the ball, Bryan was coming into his own. Another perfectly weighted ball down the centre on 65 minutes saw O`Connor run clear of the defence and calmly lob the ball over the advancing keeper. On 75 minutes, Max Holland had replaced Bryan and he put in a cameo performance, rampaging down the left wing. Following one of these runs, his cross was slightly behind O`Connor and he could only volley the ball over the bar. Another cross reached Bitmead. He couldn`t control the ball and it went to O`Connor and his shot was blocked. Holland finally had an attempt on goal himself, but his shot at the end of a run was just wide of the near post.
HARROW BOROUGH: Hafed Al-Droubi, Joshua Andrew, Ryan Haugh, Shaun Preddie, Nathaniel Oseni, Frank Keita, Ant O’Connor, Mark McLeod, Ryan Moss, Michael Bryan Mark Bitmead Subs: Mitchal Gough, Andre Odetola (replaced Mark McLeod), Max Holland (replaced Mark Bitmead).
subs Mitchal Gough, George Moore, Excellence Muhemba, Andre Odetola, Max Holland
by Richard Dyett