Harrow go down to Weymouth on opening day
PUBLISHED: 12:00 12 August 2018
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Evo-Stik South Premier South: Harrow Borough 2 Weymouth 3
Harrow Borough’s new adventures in the Evo-Stik South Premier South began with a defeat, but it was a very narrow one against title favourites Weymouth and a performance that suggested that there’ll be a positive campaign ahead.
Steve Baker selected a starting eleven containing seven players from 2017-18. The newcomers were centre-back George Fenton, midfielder Bayley Brown, left-back Ryan Haugh and goalkeeper Hafed Al-Droubi. On a pitch clearly showing the effects of two months of hot, dry weather, Harrow began confidently and went in front in the fourth minute. Ryan Moss cut in from the right, and poked the ball past advancing Terras keeper Jordan Seabright to the waiting Anthony O’Connor. It seemed that O’Connor only had to poke the ball into the net but he made a hash of the chance, turning when it didn’t seem he needed to, and taking a very weak shot, but fortunately Moss had followed up into the goalmouth and converted from close-in.
Harrow looked to add a second and a superb run from Michael Bryan saw him cut in from the right-wing and drive a left-foot shot that went just inches wide. A George Moore shot was blocked before Weymouth threatened for the first time. Abdulai Baggie made ground on the right, squeezed the ball wide to Ash Wells, and it took a fine Shaun Preddie interception to cut out his dangerous cross. Moore got in on the left side of the Weymouth defence, electing to pass rather than shoot, Al-Droubi saved from Ben Thomson, and Haugh’s shot from 20 yards was blocked for a corner.
But with Harrow having failed to build on their lead it was the Dorset visitors who levelled in the 34th minute. Haugh had no answer to the pace of Baggie and his clumsy challenge on the winger saw the referee point to the spot. Al-Droubi went the right way but couldn’t keep out Brandon Goodship’s penalty.
Suddenly Weymouth seemed to realise there was a weakness in the Harrow left-back berth, and Preddie had to make a fine tackle on Goodship after Baggie had got clear. Preddie was then thankful for the leniency of the referee. Already booked, he was adjudged to have held back Baggie, though it looked to this observer as if both players were holding in equal measure. However, with the foul having been given, a second yellow could easily have followed. With Adam Richards yet again injured, the implications for Harrow at centre-half could have been serious.
A poor shot from Brown and a Moore left-footer wide for Harrow, and a Josh Carmichael header wide for Weymouth, were the final efforts on goal of an interesting half.
If at the break Harrow had been given guidance on stopping the threat from Baggie on the Weymouth right, it went unheeded in the 52nd minute when a ball inside the full-back sent him to the by-line, and Goodship had the simple task of converting his low pass into the middle.
But the Harrow side that ended last season last season had spirit in abundance, and this shone through again here. Bryan had switched to the left-wing, and Jake McCarthy was relieved to see his interception of the Ulsterman’s cross come back off the foot of his own post. Moore had a shot deflected wide before, in the 65th minute, Bryan again put in a cross from the left, this time deep to the far post, where a determined Moss got between keeper Seabright and left-back Sa to bundle in a close-range header.
Unfortunately Moss limped off straight after his goal, though the word afterwards was that the injury was not serious. When a corner was half-cleared, Brown controlled the ball and hit a low shot forcing Seabright to dive full-length to his left to save, with Sa getting to the loose ball just before O’Connor. However, in the 71st minute it was the Terras who went back in front. An attack developed in the inside-right channel and when the ball was lifted forward, Goodship held off Fenton to hit the ball low back past Al-Droubi and complete his hat-trick.
Haugh had to make a fine challenge on Goodship, but Harrow were soon looking for the equaliser. O’Connor was tackled as he was picked out by Lynton Goss’s low cross, Seabright kept out Moore’s low shot, Haugh fired over after more good work by Goss, and Seabright foiled Goss with a super save to keep out his low shot. Into stoppage-time, a left-wing build up saw the ball worked across the Weymouth area to Lewis Cole, arriving at the far post, but Seabright made a great reaction save and that was it for Harrow.
Harrow now have two away games that ought to be a better setting of the barometer in terms of how this season will develop, both against sides that were also beaten today. Tuesday night sees them travel to Kings Langley, and next Saturday they go to Wimborne Town.