London Senior Cup (sponsored by VEO), First Round. Tuesday 4th October 2022
There’ll be few, if any, Harrow fans losing sleep about an early exit from the London Senior Cup. But there’ll be worries aplenty at the manner of this defeat to a side two levels below them. The Spartan South Midlands side were sharper in attack and – especially – way better organised, and mistake-free, in defence than a Harrow side whose performance undid at one stroke all the improvements that have been seen in the last three games. And to top it all there was yet another injury to a key player.
Although a few fringe players got starts, the side Steve Baker selected was nonetheless one that looked strong enough to gain safe passage past their opponents from the far end of the Piccadilly Line. And Harrow started well enough, a Michael Bryan free-kick forcing a full-length diving save from Cockfosters keeper Mann, and Kamon-Sherell Assidjo having a shot blocked from the resulting corner.
But things started going wrong in the 11th minute, when the home offside trap went horribly wrong and Ugbomah went through to take the ball round Jacob Knightbridge. Ahmet Biler got back to make, it seemed, a fine interception, but it was not so as the ball went off his foot into the net for an own goal.
Harrow weren’t perturbed and a nice move ended with Isiah Noel-Williams feeding Biler, whose low drive took a huge deflection off Lovell, Mann reacting wonderfully to make perhaps the save of the season, tipping the ball over.
Read then made a fine block to stop Billy Leonard’s driven cross. But the hole that Borough were falling into doubled in size in the 23rd minute. Rock Moses was not strong enough in challenging Stevenson, who twisted away from him and, sensing Knightbridgeoff his line, executed an inch-perfect lob into the far corner. The young Harrow keeper made a desperate effort to leap backwards to keep it out, but collided head first with the goalpost, a sickening sound that could be heard at the far end of the ground.
He was clearly dazed but tried to carry on for a while, eventually having to leave the field, visibly distressed and taken, concussed, to hospital. Harrow didn’t have a substitute keeper on the bench, somewhat odd given that the Under-23s had no game, and after a whole-team discussion, sympathetically allowed by referee Mr O’Meara to the annoyance of the Cockfosters bench, it was Moses who donned the keeper’s jersey.
Bryan set up Montel Brown who shot narrowly over, Noel-Williams then shooting considerably higher when well placed. A deep Cockfosters free-kick found an unmarked forward at the far post, and his effort came back off the woodwork.
Kai Omoko Brosnan beat a defender but shot past the near post, but the visitors were now looking full of confidence and Samuel Amenolacame to Moses’s rescue when the new keeper spilled Stevenson’s low shot. Brosnan shot over, Brown was stopped by a fine tackle by Madu, Adenola’s effort was blocked and Mann saved a Brown near-post flick. Ten minutes of first-half stoppage time ended with Leonard’s angled effort deflecting off the far post.
Half-time saw James Ewington called on from the bench but it was (yet) another occasion where the presence of the little striker seems to elicit the thought from the Harrow defence that he would most like to be contesting high balls.
Of course, as happens every time, this tacticwas music to the ears of the tall centre-backs marking him. Cockfosters were inches away from increasing their lead, Entwistle chipping Moses, the ball coming down from the crossbar but not crossing the line. Keegan Bloom, also on at half-time, had the sense to send Ewington in on the right with a pass on the deck.
Mann blocked his shot but the ball came back to Ewington, who squared it for Brown to tap in, but he managed to miss the ball completely. Brosnan had another shot blocked but again the visitors threatened when Ugbomah broke clear and found Entwistle, who fired wide. Brosnan sent Leonard down the right, his cross just too far in front of Ewington and Brown.
Brown had a shot blocked by Nobrega and then missed another good chance, scooping his shot onto the bar when Brosnan found him at the far post. Assidjo shot across goal after a Biler cross was blocked, Brosnanheaded Biler’s near-post corner over, and that was that.
Out of two cups at the first opportunity, Harrow are in a third this Saturday, and it’s one that carries decent financial reward as they enter the Isuzu FA Trophy at the Third Qualifying Round stage. They’ve had some luck insofar as what should have been a trip to Corinthian-Casuals is now taking place at
The Rogers Family Stadium, following storm damage at the Casuals ground. But to cash in on that luck, they are going to have to perform way, way, way better than what was seen here.
Result: Harrow Borough 0 – 2 Cockfosters
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