Bostik Premier: Staines 2 Harrow Borough 1
PUBLISHED: 12:30 13 September 2017 | UPDATED: 12:30 13 September 2017
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Below-par Harrow slumped to defeat on a wet and windy night at Wheatsheaf Park to render their fine start to the season a forgotten memory.
The visitors looked disorganised in defence, second-best in midfield and toothless in attack and would have lost by a wider margin but for two superb saves from Melvin Minter.
With Kurtis Cumberbatch having collected a knee injury in Saturday’s draw with Merstham, there was one change to the starting line-up as Alfie Cain came into midfield. Staines featured ex-Harrow veterans Josh Webb and Lewis Driver in their line-up.
And Harrow had a glorious chance to score after only twelve seconds, as Reis Stainislaus intercepted a poor pass and bore down on goal, but his shot lacked sufficient power to beat keeper debutant keeper Liam Driscoll.
Max Worsfold was off-target for the hosts, and Charles Banya stumbled as he moved on to Michael Bryan’s cross, the ball going wide.
Wadah Ahmidi missed his kick when presented with a great chance to open the scoring, and Adam Richards made a fine tackle to stop Brown after a misdirected pass by Mark McLeod had gifted himt he ball.
Mohamed Bettamer’s 25 yarder was tipped round the post by Minter, who then made his first wonder-save of the evening as he somehow kept out Mitchell Gough’s far post effort from the resulting corner.
In the follow-up the ball was netted but referee Mannix ruled it out, with the ball having gone over the byline in the build-up.
Driscoll held Banya’s free-kick, which curled over the wall but lacked the speed to trouble him before Minter’s second moment of magic.
Lewis Driver got into the Harrow box on the right and drove the ball low across goal but Minter stretched to tip the ball away, then reacted astonishingly, throwing up his hand to finger-tip Daniel Brown’s effort over.
Taurean Roberts’s shot was held at the second attempt and Michael Bryan shot wide from Cain’s pass, but these were efforts very much against the run of play. However, it looked as if Harrow might survive to the interval until in the 44th minute, Staines got a free-kick on the left and Minter was screaming at his defenders to organise themselves. Worsfold powered in the delivery, low and hard, and Richards turned it into his own net.
Borough began the second half, but Staines countered on the left and Bettamer’s cross to the far post was headed in by Driver after only 17 seconds, two weeks after Harrow had conceded within 24 seconds of kick-off at Hendon.
Roberts outpaced a defender and shot wide, but Staines were now in full control and Martin’s powerful free-kick was parried by Minter, with Brown’s follow-up header hitting the top of the bar.
Martin arrived totally unmarked to head a free-kick over, and then a corner shot straight across the six-yard box with the Harrow rearguard motionless.
Anthony O’Connor’s introduction sparked a bit of life into Harrow attack-wise, but he was booked within eight minutes of arrival and, not for the first time, trod a tightrope with a couple of challenges later.
Cain too was very lucky to remain on the field as one of six Harrow players yellow-carded, before Roberts was removed in favour of Richard Pacquette and Harrow gave themselves a 78th-minute lifeline.
Bryan’s free-kick appeared to have been wasted but George Moore did really well to retrieve it on the right and his far-post cross was headed home by Richards.
As Staines suddenly became a tad jittery, Bryan tried his luck with a free-kick and saw his effort hit the top of the bar.
Minter had to turn away Tyrell Miller-Rodney’s shot, before a late scramble in the home goal could have seen the ball end up in the net, but alas it went the wrong side of the post.
Harrow return to action againt Erith Town in the London Senior Cup on Tuesday September 19.
Harrow: Minter, Preddie, Uade, Richards, Ujah, Cain, Banya (O’Connor 61), McLeod (Moore 69), Stanislaus, Bryan, Roberts (Pacquette 78). Unused sub: Davies-Coker.