Harrow Borough 2 Harlow Town 1: O’Connor brace lifts Bostik Premier Borough
PUBLISHED: 21:12 12 August 2017 | UPDATED: 21:12 12 August 2017
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A brace from Anthony O’Connor, one of six Harrow debutants on show, the second of them in the 84th minute, gave Borough a come-from-behind win in the season’s opener at Earlsmead.
O’Connor was alongside Melvin Minter, Adam Richards, new skipper Curtis Ujah and Charles Banya in making their competitive debuts, with manager Steve Baker having rung the changes heavily in the summer after the dramatic nose-dive of the last few weeks of the 2016-17 campaign.
And despite excellent form in the pre-season friendlies, for the first 25 minutes or so, Harrow looked like a team who had not met each other until today. Richards made an awful back-header to a long Harlow throw, the ball ending up at Reece Dobson’s feet, but his shot lacked power and Shaun Preddie bundled the ball clear.
Another Richards error let in Junior Dadson to fire a dangerous cross which fizzed across the Borough goalmouth without getting a touch, while Melvin Minter made his first save to stop a long-range effort from Charlie Dickens, and Dadson then fired wildly wide when he had more time than he thought.
Harrow finally settled and Will Turl fed O’Connor, who got the ball caught under his feet as he tried to race through on goal.
O’Connor then tried an effort from the edge of the box that David Hughes in the visiting goal held comfortably.
In the 32nd minute, Harlow opened the scoring as Xavier Vidal’s inswinging corner from the left was met by a misdirected header from Shaune Preddie, the ball going on to Alex Read who netted easily.
To their great credit, Harrow hit back immediately, equalising two minutes later when Kurtis Cumberbatch’s beautiful curling free-kick from the left edge of the Harlow box was met by a glancing O’Connor header.
The goal gave Harrow a lift and they looked stronger in the run-up to half-time. Curtis Ujah fed Turl but his shot lacked power; Charles Banya stabbed a Michael Bryan cross wide when it reached him at the far post; and Bryan then cut in from the right to hit a left-footer across the goal.
Harlow keeper Hughes appeared to injure his shoulder late in the half, but the Hawks had a second keeper among their substitutes, and his replacement Patrick Lee was in action soon after the restart to turn away a shot from Turl.
Bryan then made a brilliant run up the left, his dangerous cross headed behind for a corner, and Richards was close to redirecting in a Mark McLeod shot at the far post, while at the other end Minter made a good low take from Nigel Neita’s dangerous near-post cross.
Read burst clear of Ujah and was denied by a fine fingertip save from Lee, who was sharply off his line to grab Turl’s flick-on off O’Connor’s toe.
The sixth Harrow debutant was the experienced Richard Pacquette, who replaced Turl in the 78th minute.
Stanley Muguo skewed a shot wide for Harlow, but Pacquette made his impact in the 84th minute, taking the ball forward to the edge of the Harlow area and slipping it to his left to Cumberbatch, who redirected it to O’Connor for him to control with one touch before thrashing it past Lee for the winner.
A late Minter save, and an acrobatic clearance in the follow-up by Ujah, ensured Harrow held on for their first league win since their visit to Sudbury on March 18.
Harrow now head to Wingate & Finchley on Tuesday, and Leatherhead next Saturday.
Harrow: Melvin Minter, Shaun Preddie, Howard Hall, Adam Richards, Curtis Ujah, Kurtis Cumberbatch, Charles Banya, Mark McLeod, Will Turl (Richard Pacquette 78), Michael Bryan, Anthony O’Connor. Unused subs: Alfie Cain, Tayo Davies-Coker, George Moore
Harlow: David Hughes (Patrick Lee 46), Jared Small, Charlie Dickens, James Baker, Stanley Muguo, Fabion Simms, Junior Dadson, Syrus Gordon, Alex Read, Xavier Vidal (Tommie Fagg 78), Reece Dobson (Nigel Neita 56). Unused subs: Jack Wilkinson, Jimmy Shepherd.
Referee: Mr J Creswick.