HARROW BORO 0 WIMBORNE TOWN 2
By Harrow Borough
The lack of applause as the players came off told a story. The Harrow faithful are usually ready with an ‘unlucky’ or a ‘well done’ as their players leave the field, whatever the result. But not today.
The anger is boiling up. A season that looked like a battle for a play-off place a few weeks back is now looking like one in which Harrow may not even finish in the top half of the table. Goalscoring has dried up, defensive mistakes continue apace but, perhaps worst of all today, when a senior player, quite a fans’ favourite, storms off the pitch like a spoilt child when – correctly – substituted, then questions start to be asked what is going on behind the scenes.
Most fans are keeping quiet for now, fearful of upsetting the apple-cart on the eve of the Middlesex Senior Cup Final, but one feels that the powder-keg could blow if the remaining three league displays are on a par with the last three pointless outings at The Rogers Family Stadium. Here a Wimborne side with an awful defensive record was able to largely keep the Harrow attack in front of them, while capitalising on two errors at the other end, and thus become the first side to ‘do the double’ over Harrow this season.
A lunchtime hailstorm had slicked up the playing surface and, after a fine tackle by Lewis Cole stopped Luke Holmes in the act of shooting, Harrow had the early pressure, attacking the school end. Cole’s corner was flicked on to Adam Pepera, at the far post, but he miscontrolled the ball. Cole then controlled a half-cleared cross on the edge of the box and drove narrowly wide. Benfield in the visiting goal turned away Anthony O’Connor’s shot, and the Harrow forward then turned provider, his cross just beyond a stretching Ryan Haugh. Cole’s shot from the edge of the box then broke off a defender to Frank Keita, and he turned and shot against the upright. George Moore was then foiled by Benfield.
But after all that dominance, it was Wimborne who took the lead in the 32nd minute. Moore and Keita both missed tackles as right-back Lee broke into the box on the left. His first shot came back off the post but he was the first to react and slammed home at the second attempt.
O’Connor nearly levelled immediately, his near-post header from Michael Bryan’s corner coming off the top of the bar. Moore shot past the near post from distance when Bryan tapped a short free-kick to him, but half-time arrived with few Harrow supporters optimistic, despite The Magpies’ poor defensive record, and poor away stats.
Keita had a shot blocked early in the second period, before Benfield turned aside Moore’s shot. Pepera got to the ball but was dispossessed. The centre-back, now playing on the right of a back four after an interval reorganisation, then cut in from the right, played a one-two with Moore and shot inches wide. Bryan crossed and Keita’s header beat Benfield but was cleared by Maybury, and a stretching Cole could not get to Bryan’s far post cross.
But, again, after dominating possession, the Harrow defence caved in at the first sign of pressure, as Oldring had yards of unopposed room to take a run at a right-wing corner in the 69th minute and head powerfully past Hafed Al-Droubi, who should be asking himself whether he ought to come for the corner.
Tobias Holmes was close to making it three as Al-Droubi made a good save to turn away his effort. Haugh’s cross was headed on for substitute Excellence Muhemba, who failed to make a good connection on the ball, Benfield saving. Muhemba had come on when Moore had departed with an embarrassing display of petulance. The substitute then got to the right-hand by-line, a rare occurrence both today and in recent weeks, and Moss met his pull-back with a crisp shot well saved by Benfield. At the other end Al-Droubi saved from Burbridge. Benfield saved Haugh’s drive from the edge of the box, before another substitute, Max Holland, headed Pepera’s cross across the goal when it seemed a better idea to have a try at goal.
If this latest in a set of poor performances has been because Harrow have been ‘saving themselves’ for the Middlesex Senior Cup Final, then it’s a gamble that will be played out this Tuesday evening at Brentford. We shall see!
HARROW BOROUGH: Hafed Al-Droubi, George Moore (sub Excellence Muhemba, 74 mins), Ryan Haugh, Nathaniel Oseni, Adam Pepera, Jordan Ireland, Anthony O’Connor (sub Max Holland, 88 mins), Frank Keita, Ryan Moss (booked, 44 mins; sub Mark Bitmead, 85 mins), Michael Bryan, Lewis Cole. Unused subs: Josh Andrew, George Fenton.
WIMBORNE TOWN: Gerard Benfield, Jordan Lee, Billy Maybury, Sam Davidson,
Matty Oldring, Carl Pettefer, James Stokoe (sub Lee Francis, 51 mins), Luke Holmes, Tobias Holmes (sub Sam Bayston, 88 mins), Luke Burbridge, Stefan Penny. Unused subs: Chad Collins, Aidan Shepherd, Rhys Owen.
Referee: Mr R Hillier-Smith