A first on-the-road clean sheet since the opening day of the season was a huge plus, but Harrow returned from a bitterly, bitterly cold night in Hampshire regretting their inabilities further upfield in a game that saw them dominate possession but fail to convert that into goals.
An addition to the injury list on Saturday, Ahmet Biler, meant that Steve Baker’s resources were stretched even further. Jaden Sharmen dropped to the left-back slot, with Kamon-Sherell Assidjo getting a start. He created an opening in the first minute, crossing from the right for Kai Omoko Brosnan to direct a header over the bar.
There was then a let-off at the other end, as Brooks got past Sharman and drove a low cross that the incoming Bentley couldn’t stretch to convert. Philpott in the home goal made a good save to turn away a deflected Billy Leonard shot, and then kept out Samuel Adenola’s effort following a good build-up by Assidjo and George Moore. The Citizens then began to get on top. Chugg got between two Harrow defenders to head wide from a corner, and Ezra Ikebuasi made a fine tackle to stop Bentley, who then had a shot blocked.
In their second match together, Ikebuasi and young Sonny Hart showed further signs of what could be the defensive partnership to shore up what’s been an all-too-leaky Harrow defence this winter. Harrow got through that home dominance and found their feet again in the run-up to the interval.
Anointed Chukwu won the ball to allow Moore to drive a shot over, Adenola shot across goal from the right-hand edge of the box, and Nolan made a fine challenge to stop Brosnan bursting through. Late in the half, Brosnan got to the left-hand by-line, pulling the ball back to Moore, whose low shot was stopped by Philpott’s fine save.
The ball came back to Leonard, just outside the box, and he checked back onto his right foot before unleashing a super shot that beat Philpott but crashed off the bar. Moore, whose shooting radar wasn’t as in tune as a week ago, sent two efforts wide before the half-time whistle went. It was an indication of just how cold it was that the substitutes of both sides eschewed the usual interval kick-about on the pitch and headed for the warmth of the dressing rooms with their colleagues!
The second half opened with an alert Jacob Knightbridge holding Bentley’s cross-shot, before Harrow took control again. Assidjo and Leonard created the room for Moore to shoot across goal, and Moore was then denied by Philpott, who got up quickly to deny Chukwu from the rebound. Moore and Assidjo were then off-target with shots. I’d liked to have seen Assidjo and Brosnan switch wings, as each was preferring to cut inside rather than try getting to the by-line and pull the ball back. When they were substituted, one of the replacements, Johnny Allotey, showed just how dangerous this tactic can be, slipping past a defender on the right, running along the goal-line and delivering the ball to Chukwu, nine yards out. The big striker had cleverly made room and steadied himself, but then lifted the ball over the bar. Chance of the night, gone. Moore forced a full-length diving save from Philpott with his best effort of the evening. Harrow survived a stoppage-time Winchester free-kick and the points were shared. Borough remain a place above the bottom four with two more away trips in the week ahead.
The first this Saturday is to foot-of-the-table North Leigh.
It’s a game with flashing danger lights pinging brightly, for the Millers have doubled their league wins tally with two impressive clean-sheet home successes in the last ten days. Harrow will have to ally the improved defensive work of the last four days with better finishing if they are to have a successful trip to Oxfordshire.
Final score: Winchester City 0-0 Harrow Borough