HARTLEY WINTNEY 3 HARROW BORO 0
By Harrow Borough
George Moore came in for an injured Michael Bryan in a side otherwise unchanged from that which returned from Merthyr with a point last Saturday.
On a sloping, bobbly pitch, the initial question was whether Borough would show the mental resolve in difficult conditions. And initially all was well. Moore had an early shot blocked, and Frank Keita’s follow-up spun wildly towards goal but was saved by Strudley, the Hartley goalkeeper deputising for normal custodian Desbois. Keita’s free-kick was then met by a diving header by Adam Pepera, Strudley going full-length to turn it round the post. Ryan Moss and Keita then worked the ball to Moore, whose strike went inches over. Anthony O’Connor and Josh Andrew combined to set up Keita, but his shot was high and wide.
But out of the blue, in the 32nd minute, Hartley Wintney scored and from that moment Harrow were totally deflated and undone. Parker’s throw-in was cleared back to him, his cross found Drage, who had far too much room to lay the ball off to Abubakar, whose shot beat Hafed Al-Droubi at the near post. And two minutes later it was 2-0. Abubakar was the provider this time, breaking on the right and crossing to the far post, where Campbell headed in off the post.
In the remainder of the half Harrow looked shell-shocked, the passing grew worse and the dead-ball deliveries failed to take any account of the wind and offered absolutely no threat. Yet again the second half began with a goal conceded, in the 47th minute. The award of a corner to the hosts was without doubt wrong, the player in orange’s shot going out without any form of deflection of the ball. But it was awarded. At this point Harrow had to switch on to defend. Alas no, argument came before organisation. Everyone at Harrow knows the quality of Joshua Webb’s dead-ball delivery and his deep corner was met by a towering header by centre-back Ball.
A triple substitution made very little difference to Borough’s attacking quality, and the execution of corners, in particular, was woeful. In one rare decent move, Mark Bitmead found Keita, who cross picked out Excellence Muhemba at the far post but he didn’t get a decent contact on the ball and it went wide. Finally there was a period of possession from the visitors and it ended with Ryan Haugh’s shot blocked. The deputising home keeper had not been tested since the early stages (and significantly, as a ‘shorty’, he hadn’t had a single cross to have to claim in the whole game) but what might have been was illustrated when a Moore free-kick rebounded out off his chest. But the bigger illustration was of the ineptitude of Harrow today as not a single Borough player was in for a possible follow-up on the rebound.
Harrow’s next game is next Saturday, at The Rogers Family Stadium, against lowly Frome Town, but beware - that’s a Frome team who today overturned high-fliers Taunton Town 2-0.
HARTLEY WINTNEY: Paul Strudley, Nathan Smart, Louie Paget, Jack Ball, Matt Drage, Alexandru Albert, Steven Duff, Joshua Webb (sub Tyrone Newton, 75 mins), Michael Campbell (sub Tyron Smith, 87 mins), Mitchell Parker, Salhin Abubakar (sub Jack French, 80 mins). Unused subs: Harry Woodward, Jorden Alves.
HARROW BOROUGH: Hafed Al-Droubi, Josh Andrew (booked, 62 mins), Ryan Haugh, Adam Pepera, Shaun Preddie, Nathaniel Oseni (sub Excellence Muhemba, 56 mins), Anthony O’Connor (sub Mark Bitmead, 56 mins), Mark McLeod (booked, 41 mins; sub Lewis Cole, 56 mins), Ryan Moss, George Moore, Frank Keita. Unused sub: Max Holland.
Referee: Mr H Gilroy
By Simon Grigor