We’re only midway through season number two in the Southern Premier South but, having finally, it seemed, found it a league where Harrow could be competitive, it is very much once again the story of a Winter and Spring fight against the drop. One probably shouldn’t expect to match teams like Taunton or Salisbury week-by-week, but now Harrow are falling to small clubs like Wimborne, Beaconsfield and today’s opponents, Yate, a modest outfit who were helped on their way by yet another gifted penalty, as Harrow fell into the bottom six, with all five teams below them having games in hand.
There was a welcome return from injury for Michael Bryan, with Adam Pepera missing the game through suspension. Just for once, Harrow began the game on the front foot, Webb getting back to put in a saving challenge on a breaking Dylan Kearney, who then held off a defender before firing a left-footer over. Marc Charles-Smith glanced a header over before the hosts threatened for the first time, a clever free-kick routine between Peare and Spokes setting up the former for a curling shot tipped over by Hafed Al-Droubi. Keightley then shot over from the edge of the box.
Yate seemed to be getting the upper hand, with Shaun Preddie clearing Webb’s effort off the line, but it was Harrow who took the lead in the 26th minute. Lewis Cole won a challenge just inside the Bluebells’ half, lost the ball, but then did well to win it back and set Charles-Smith through on the right. He looked up and hit a beautiful cross which took keeper Forster out of play and left the incoming Kearney an easy task to side-foot home.
Harrow took great confidence from that and for 15 minutes played some very nice football. Forster palmed Thomas Scott’s cross off the head of Charles-Smith, Kearney failed to connect with Bryan’s cross, Charles-Smith had an effort blocked, and a good move ended with Scott’s delivery half-cleared to the edge of the box where Jordan Ireland drove over. But instead of doubling their lead, Harrow gave away a stupid equaliser in the 41st minute. The defence switched off completely as Yate took a corner, the ball played back to Webb who had acres of space to run into. He was met by Scott, who mistimed his challenge with a dangled leg that was an invitation to be tripped over. Of course, he did. Webb got up to put the penalty away down the middle: goalkeepers shouldn’t be expected to save spot-kicks, but these days so many go down the middle that I for one wonder why keepers don’t stand up and take a chance on where they go?
George Moore missed a decent chance before the break, cutting in from the left to shoot across goal, before the second half began with Kearney taking too long to get a shot away but the ball breaking to Bryan, whose shot brought a fine save from Forster. But the hosts were now back in the game and George Fenton had to clear off the line when Spokes beat the offside trap and crossed for Evans to arrive at the far post with a downward header. Harrow then had a let-off when a badly-marked Bryant headed straight at Al-Droubi. The game was becoming very open, and Harrow were next to threaten when Kearney cut in from the right, his cross-shot looping up to Moore whose effort was blocked. Moore then cut in from the left, turning to fire a right-foot effort that went inches wide. Evans broke on the right to pick out Kamara, who shot across goal. Fenton should have given Harrow the lead when he rose to meet Bryan’s corner four yards out, but headed over, and moments later Harrow paid dearly for that, as a low right-wing cross was met at the near post by an over-the-shoulder effort from a tightly-marked Bryant that flew past Al-Droubi. The time, 69 minutes.
Harrow pressed in vain for an equaliser, Charles-Smith’s backward header from Moore’s cross going just over, Kearney diving to head across goal, Forster diving full-length to push away Moore’s 20-yarder and, finally, Moore’s shot curling narrowly wide.
This was certainly not the worst Harrow performance in a string of 14 league fixtures that have netted just nine points. However, this was probably the weakest opposition they have faced in that run and anyone who’s not now seriously worried needs to have a rethink. Next up is third-in-the-table Tiverton Town who visit The Rogers Family Stadium next Saturday, although before then, on Tuesday night, there is a London Senior Cup Second Round tie against Brentford B.
YATE TOWN: Adam Forster, Mayson Evans (booked, 19 mins; sub Sam Boulton, 76 mins), Grant Horton, Nick Peare (booked, 80 mins), Jake Lee, Elliott Keightley, Sam Kamara, Joe Guest, Mike Bryant (sub Jack Twyman, 71 mins; booked, 83 mins), Luke Spokes, Bradley Webb. Unused sub: Nick Humphreys
HARROW BOROUGH: Hafed Al-Droubi, Josh Andrew, Thomas Scott, Shaun Preddie, George Fenton, Jordan Ireland, George Moore, Lewis Cole (booked, 55 mins; sub Dylan Ive, 79 mins), Dylan Kearney, Michael Bryan (sub Kunle Otudeko, 79 mins), Marc Charles-Smith (sub Excellence Muhemba, 79 mins). Unused subs: Juwon Akintunde, Leo Donnellan.
Referee: Mr M Underhay
By Simon Grigor