TIVERTON TOWN 1 HARROW BORO 1
By Harrow Borough
A late Frank Keita goal ensured that Harrow returned from their longest trip of the year with a point.
They showed more spirit than in some recent games to battle back from going a goal down ten minutes into the second half, having played some decent football in the first period without, not for the first time recently, managing to find the net.
Ryan Moss’s awful run in front of goal (his last strike in open play was at Staines on New Year’s Day) cost him his place, with Excellence Muhemba getting his first league start. On a truly gorgeous Spring afternoon, Harrow were the first to threaten when Michael Bryan’s drive corner (oh, what a change to see a corner hit with pace!) was met at the far post by a stretching Jordan Ireland, the ball flying just wide. But there was then a dangerous situation at the other end, as Nathaniel Oseni held off an attacker and guided the ball back to Hafed Al-Droubi, who inexplicably picked it up. Cue an indirect free kick no more than twelve yards out. The ball was played to Yetton whose low drive went through the wall and past Al-Droubi, but was brilliantly cleared off the line by Oseni.
A fine Josh Andrew cross was taken off Muhemba’s head, Al-Droubi saving from Hall at the other end, and another cross from Andrew was met by a header from Rogers that would have had the home midfielder’s heart in his mouth as it was inches away from being an own goal. Bryan, having a fine game despite the pitch being quite bobbly, then danced his way to the by-line and hit a sweet low cross, but Muhemba was on his heels and the ball went past him. A good move then ended with Muhemba laying the ball back to Ireland who shot over, before Anthony O’Connor fired wildly over after Frank Keita had brought the ball forward. Key shot wide for Tivvy, before Andrew again set up a Harrow opportunity, his deep cross finding Ryan Haugh beyond the far post, his shot just clearing the angle of post and bar. The half ended with another decent chance spurned by Harrow, as O’Connor’s header from Bryan’s sweet free-kick went narrowly wide.
However, when the second half opened it was a different story. Davis shot well wide before Al-Droubi needed lengthy treatment, appearing to have hurt himself (or aggravate his recent injury) in making a clearance. Almost his first action on resumption was to pick the ball out of his net. It was a catalogue of errors by the Borough defence, as Haugh won a tackle but immediately presented the ball back to the man he had challenged. It was played wide into what was now Harrow’s vacant left-back area, from where Davis delivered it to the far post where an unchallenged Hall had come forward from his own left-back area to fire the ball back across Al-Droubi. The time, 55 minutes.
For a while Harrow regressed into the form that has been seen recently. Yetton shot wide and then Bath put a free header past the post from Key’s cross, a bad miss. Haugh had a shot blocked at the other end but after 71 minutes, the Muhemba experiment ended with a ‘tried hard, but…’ report card to be written. On came Moss to give more direction to the front-line, with George Moore, hopefully repentant after last Saturday’s tantrum, coming on at the same time in place of Ireland. Immediately, Harrow regained a foothold in the game. Two more good Bryan corners troubled Armstrong, and O’Connor headed wide from a Haugh delivery with Moore probably better-placed behind him. As the game became more open, there was a let-off when Yetton shot wide for Tivvy, while Moore’s shot deflected wide of the post for Harrow.
The hosts then went close to a second as Al-Droubi made a great one-handed save to deny Smallcombe, and Haugh was there to clear Yetton’s follow-up off the line. With Borough pressing forward, Moore was robbed and Tiverton broke downfield, Yetton turning Preddie to fire over. But then, in the 84th minute, Harrow turned defence into attack. A great ball downfield from Andrew was picked up by Moore. He turned inside and ran across the edge of the area, slipping the ball to O’Connor, whose attempt at a shot was a complete duff, but the alert Keita was in support to fire the ball past Armstrong.
Nine minutes of stoppage-time couldn’t separate the sides and the points were shared. The spirit was far better in today’s performance, the squad seeming to have taken heart from their fine display in the County Cup Final. But Harrow are still nothing like the force of late 2018, unable to convert chances and error-prone at the back. Nonetheless, most supporters will go into Easter Monday’s clash with Staines Town at the Rogers Family Stadium with more confidence than would have been the case one week ago.
TIVERTON TOWN: Liam Armstrong, Josh Key, Callum Hall, Jamie Price, Ben Mammola (booked, 45 mins), Jordan Dyer, Max Smallcombe, Scott Rogers (sub Steve Colwell, 87 mins), Stewart Yetton, Tom Bath, Harrison Davis. Unused subs: Tom Gardner, Isaac Furness, Josh Wadham, George Rogers.
HARROW BOROUGH: Hafed Al-Droubi, Josh Andrew, Ryan Haugh (booked, 43 mins), Shaun Preddie (sub Adam Pepera, 84 mins), Nathaniel Oseni, Jordan Ireland (sub George Moore, 74 mins), Frank Keita, Mark McLeod (booked, 90 mins), Excellence Muhemba (sub Ryan Moss, 71 mins), Michael Bryan, Anthony O’Connor. Unused subs: Lewis Cole, Gianni Crichlow.
Referee: Mr R Martin