Bostik Premier: Harrow Borough 2 Merstham 2
PUBLISHED: 10:00 10 September 2017
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For the first time this season, Harrow were involved in a drawn game, battling back from twice being a goal down to share the spoils with Merstham in a feisty game at Earlsmead.
With Will Turl and Howard Hall injured last Saturday at Enfield, there was a return for suspension for Arinse Uade at left-back, with Shaun Preddie reverting to right-back.
New signing Reis Stanislaus, who had played an important role for Hendon in their demolition of Borough in Harrow’s last league game, came in up front, and another new signing, Taurean Roberts, arriving on a dual-registration from Hampton & Richmond Borough, got the nod over Anthony O’Connor in attack.
The visitors were the first to show when the Harrow defence failed to attack the delivery of a corner and as it dropped to the ground, Hamilton-Forbes’s shot was deflected wide.
Bamba then cut in from the right, switched back onto his left foot and struck a low shot across the goal.
Visiting goalkeeper Haigh made a brave save at Charles Banya’s feet after he had played a one-two with Stanislaus before Sahr Kabba, once of Harrow, arrived at the near post to hit a snap-shot that was blocked.
The visitors got the goal that their early domination threatened in the 26th minute when play developed on the right and the ball inside found Kabba entering the box in the inside-right channel. Melvin Minter had little choice other than to go out towards him at which point Kabba played the ball to his left and Ryan Hall slid it home.
Harrow levelled after 35 minutes when Haigh saved again at Banya’s feet when he was drawn to the edge of his box to try to deal with a high bouncing ball and realised just too late that his momentum was going to see him handle it outside, and made an attempt to chest the ball away. But Stanislaus seized on the ball, side-stepped a defender and slammed it home.
Merstham nearly regained the lead when Kabba found Bamba whose shot beat Minter but hit the outside of the post and Roberts tried an ambitious shot on the turn when a square pass to Michael Bryan would have been a better bet.
The half closed with referee Forrester finally losing patience with Merstham and booking two players, but he did not appear for the second half and play was held up as an appeal went out for a qualified official.
Assistant referee Stevens eventually took charge while fellow linesman Wyatt took care of one side of the pitch, but there was nobody on the other side and the man in the middle had to keep his eye on possible Merstham offsides. The visitors again looked the sharper as the half began and Hutchings should have done better when another corner was allowed to drop to ground level in the Harrow box, then Addai beat Uade before finding Bonnett-Johnson, who steadied himself but shot wide.
Then in the 60th minute Roberts gave away a free-kick and Ryan Hall’s low inswinging delivery went past everyone in the area, including Minter, and went in at the far post.
One would have hoped that the players of both sides would have tried to help the overworked officials, but Merstham were upset by a very heavy challenge from the already-booked Uade that left Maynard-Abnett on the ground.
Harrow refused to kick the ball out of play for him to get treatment and Bamba produced a crunching tackle on Preddie, which led to a melee.
After some discussion, Stevens dished out three bookings and lectured the two captains before things continued.
Things did settle down but Harrow needed some inspiration from the bench and it came when O’Connor replaced Roberts as almost immediately, Stanislaus squeezed past Hutchings but poked his shot just wide.
Merstham might have extended their lead when, first, Addai cut the ball back for Kabba to meet with a first-time shot that Minter saved well, and then when Bamba cut inside and shot past the far post.
However, Harrow then put the visiting defence under some sustained pressure for the first time as O’Connor’s dangerous cross went begging and Stanislaus’s flick at the near post from Bryan’s cross was blocked.
Haigh tipped over a Preddie back-header from Alfie Cain’s free-kick and then flew to his right to brilliantly claw away O’Connor’s far-post header.
But Harrow levelled when Adam Richards got up above everyone to flick home Kurtis Cumberbatch’s driven corner from the left.
Haigh made a good punch clear from another Cumberbatch corner and Minter saved from Bennett, while there was just time for Merstham to rack up a fifth booking before the final whistle.
Harrow remain in third place and have a trip to Staines Town on Tuesday.
Harrow: Minter, Preddie, Uade, Richards, Ujah, Cumberbatch, Banya, McLeod (Cain 75), Stanislaus, Bryan, Roberts (O’Connor 73). Unused subs: Pacquette, Davies-Coker, Moore.