On their fourth away trip in October, the script was a familiar one: Harrow played brilliantly up to, and beyond, the interval. Indeed, here at Privett Park, locals were coming up to your reporter at the break and, pleasingly, asking “How are you so near the foot of the table when you play this well?” To which my response was, “Hmm, wait until you see what we do in the second half!” Not so this time though! Borough weathered a short home storm and then a crucial third goal wrapped up three golden points to take back to Earlsmead.
With Michael Bryan’s partner in hospital, Imran Uche departed to Billericay (though he would have been suspended here anyway), and the ongoing injuries to Kamon-Sherell Assidjo, James Ewington, James Taylor, Joseph Lawal and Sam Alderson, Borough were down to the bare bones. Indeed Marc Charles-Smith was named as a substitute, although he amusingly stated to the travelling support that Charlie Taylor would be coming on in an outfield position before he made an appearance! Another absentee was Isha Mantry, unable to travel so far midweek, and so Marc himself was the man attending on-field injuries. But one bright note was the return of captain Shaun Preddie. Although his knee injury was still troubling him, he put his hand up to play and returned a superb 90-minute display. He lined up in central defence alongside Jaden Sharman, again excellent. Keegan Bloom was at right-back and so Samuel Adenola stepped forward to play in midfield: he too put in a great display in an unfamiliar position.
On a very mild late October evening, George Moore stormed forward to the right-hand by-line, driving a low cross that came off keeper O’Flaherty’s legs and could have gone anywhere: the home stopper was relieved to see it fly across goal. Kyal Williams fired over from the edge of the box, and Sharman made a great clearing header from the same player’s dangerous cross. Billy Leonard’s clever short corner was returned to him by Kai Omoko Brosnan, Leonard’s low angled shot turned round the post by O’Flaherty. Wooden’s near post header went wide, before Brosnan was pushed over as he ran on to Montel Brown’s ball. Referee Mr Duffill raised his whistle to his lips, but peep for a spot-kick it did not. However, Harrow took a 19th minute lead, as a beautiful build-up on the left ended with Brosnan cutting the ball back from the by-line. Adenola arrived late in the box and rammed it in from 12 yards despite O’Flaherty getting a hand to the ball.
The lead was doubled six minutes later, Brosnan and Leonard again demonstrating their near-telepathic understanding with a lovely one-two inside the box, Brosnan sliding a low right-foot finish across O’Flaherty. Brosnan came in off the left flank to hit a 25-yarder that whistled past the far post, before Isiah Noel-Williams strode to the left-hand by-line, pulling the ball back for Moore to have a shot blocked. The loose ball flew back to Moore and his acrobatic effort went across the goal. Brown was a whisker away from touching in a Moore effort but the half ended with a reminder that the hosts were still a threat, Busari’s shot tipped over by Jacob Knightbridge.
A decent number of travelling fans, while very happy, nonetheless waited on tenterhooks to see if the second half would develop into what has become a familiar story. And early on, Gosport built up a head of steam. Knightbridge, watched by his family, pulled off a superb save to touch Tarbuck’s drive onto the bar and over, and Sharman made a vital interception. Two home substitutions increased the threat and in the 67th minute, a build-up on the left and a ball into the box found one of them, Jewitt-White, who was brought down by Leonard. Knightbridge went the right way but Rew beat him with a firm penalty.
As well as raiding forward. Adenola showed he knew his defensive duties too, making a fine interception to stop a dangerous attack. Great Evans came on for the hard-working Brown, before Harrow did what they’ve not done in the earlier games and got another goal, in the 74thminute. It was a fine one too, as Noel-Williams won the ball on half-way, Adenola breaking forward and drawing the defence to him, before slipping it right to Moore, who ran on into the box before angling a low right-foot shot into the far corner.
O’Flaherty caught Moore’s attempt to chip him. There was still some home pressure but the third goal had stunned any serious revival. Rory Williams got past Moore to fire over, and Knightbridge made a telling punch clear of a dangerous cross. Evans showed his strength to hold off a defender and fire wide, and Rewmade space for himself only to shoot wide. It was almost the last kick of the game and Harrow had the win.
Harrow remain 17th, but this was a huge win in opening a little space from the bottom four, some of whom have been showing signs of improvement. It’s now ten days before the next league game, a trip to one of those four, Yate Town. Before then Borough host neighbours Hayes & Yeading United in an Isuzu FA Trophy First Round Proper tie at The Rogers Family Stadium this Saturday.
Result: Gosport Borough 1 – 3 Harrow Borough