1st Team v Harrow Borough
By Steve Goldfinch
At Berkeley Fields on Tuesday evening North Greenford again fell at the first hurdle in the club’s last remaining cup competition this season with Southern League Premier Division opponents Harrow Borough earning a thumping 9-3 victory, possibly their way of bouncing back from the club’s own heavy 7-0 defeat by Taunton at the weekend.
As it happened though United could not have got off to a better start with top scorer Aaron McLeish netting his 16th goal of the season in the first minute. And although Harrow levelled the score on 10 minutes with a well-taken goal by Frank Keita, up until the midway point of the half the Blues were arguably the better team, playing some neat, controlled football, and on a couple of occasions coming close to restoring their lead.
That all changed in the 24th minute when an excellent low cross from the right was met by Harrow full-back Ryan Haugh who found the corner of the Blues net with a clinical finish, followed by captain Ryan Ross adding a third with an accurate header from another fine delivery just two minutes later.
United then fell further behind in the 35th minute when a Lewis Cole effort took a wicked deflection into the far corner giving Blues keeper Frazer Siddall no chance. To be fair, Greenford didn’t deserve to go 4-1 behind at this point in the contest but, to their credit, the players kept pressing and on the stroke of half time pulled a goal back when a fine run and cross from the right by McLeish was stabbed home from close range by midfielder Ben Long.
The goal gave the Blues some hope of getting back into the game and they began the second half brightly enough until, within just three minutes of the resumption, the ball was given away at the back and the hosts were punished by ex-Blue Anthony O’Connor who had space and time to place the ball past Siddall.
Then the floodgates opened as, with still less than ten minutes of the half played, things went from bad to worse for Greenford with Harrow putting the tie to bed by adding two more goals - Cole scoring in the 49th minute and O’Connor making it seven with his second of the evening just four minutes later.
Substitute Tom Ward pulled a late consolation goal back for the Blues some 7 minutes from time, but this was soon followed by the hosts conceding a penalty which O’Connor converted with aplomb to secure his hat-trick. The visitors then went on to rub even more salt into United’s wounds with Ahmed Elsahib scoring on the stroke of full-time to make it nine and emphatically wrap up Harrow’s win.
North Greenford’s players need to put this defeat behind them. They were well beaten by an in-form Step 3 side currently sitting just below the play-off places and at times, particularly in the first half, matched their opponents in aspects of their play. They will obviously be disappointed by the manner in which they conceded a lot of these goals, and they need to learn from this. But their priority is, of course, the league and they must now concentrate on building on the fine win against London Tigers in their last league game.
NGU Team: Frazer Siddall, Sean Hillier, Adam Louth (captain), Jake Nickless (Petrit Krasniqi 75), Danny Bennell, Manu Oke-William, Joe Brown, Ben Long, Aaron McLeish, Ismael Ehui (Nathan Murphy 62), Ryan Lewis (Thomas Ward