Bostik Premier: Harrow 3 Needham Market 2
PUBLISHED: 10:30 07 January 2018
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It remains to be seen just how important Charles Banya's 81st-minute strike will be come the end of the season, but it felt huge on Saturday.
Harrow ended a run of five league defeats against another side in the lower reaches of the table and in a game that had seen their opponents battle back from two goals down and at that point look more likely to win.
Boss Steve Baker recalled George Moore, Mark McLeod, Chinua Cole and Greig Stewart to the starting line-up and on a sticky surface Harrow did something they haven’t done for a while as they started the game in the ascendant.
After seven minutes they were 2-0 up: on three minutes, clever hold-up play by Sahr Kabba near the corner flag created the chance for the supporting Moore to cross and although the ball initially went over the head of Ryan Moss, it deflected back to him to control and fire in.
Four minutes later, it was Moss who held up the ball out on the right, with Moore again forward in support, and he got to the byline and delivered a low cross that was cleverly flicked in at the near post by Kabba.
The Borough formation was different, with Shaun Preddie employed alongside David Longe-King and Adam Pepera in a back three. Moore and Cole thus had greater licence to go forward, and both popped up time and time again in advanced positions.
McLeod and Stewart were anchoring midfield, with Kurtis Cumberbatch looking much more effective than of late in a more advanced role.
Consequently, there was far better support for Moss and Kabba than has been seen for some time and Moore in particular was revelling in his more forward position and being on the right too.
He again caused the Needham defence problems with a sweet cross that was taken off Cole’s toe by a defender and then ran on to Cumberbatch’s incisive ball inside the full-back to hit a low drive that was turned round the post by Danny Gay in the visiting goal.
Moss headed wide from a Stewart corner, and then turned sharply onto Preddie’s header forward, but was denied a second goal by a quite brilliant goal-line clearance by Daniel Morphew.
At this point the visitors’ only threat had been an early shot by John Sands, saved by Melvin Minter, but the Marketmen then began to settle.
Jamie Griffiths gathered Darryl Coakley’s cross from the left and forced Minter to save well from his sharp shot on the turn, and then Adam Mills got in a shot that was wide of the target.
Sands tried his luck with an acrobatic overhead kick, which went wide, as play was now opening up in a great attacking game.
Moss was next to threaten, heading wide after an exchange of passes with Cole and Minter then kept his goal intact by saving from Sands and recovering to tip over Griffiths’s shot.
Kabba fed Cumberbatch, who shot wide from the edge of the box, while Keiran Morphew was inches from getting his toe to a dipping free-kick, and then Moore came infield, making space for himself to curl a sweet shot just wide.
Minter held Griffiths’s free-kick, Cumberbatch and Cole created a chance for Moss, saved by Gay, and Minter’s save from Ingram’s smart snap-shot kept Borough’s two-goal lead at the interval.
A great move at the start of the second half between Cole, Moore, Cumberbatch and Kabba brought a fine save from Gay, who was out to the feet of the striker rapidly.
Cumberbatch’s free-kick just eluded Moss and, at the other end, Coakley got forward to hit a low drive that Minter held.
The Marketmen introduced Jack Simmons after 61 minutes, and immediately the move paid off, as he got past Moore and hit a cross that Griffiths buried with a fine header.
Harrow’s confidence immediately looked shaky and their defensive play became edgy and passes increasingly went astray.
Both on the field and on the terraces a degree of panic was settling in and in the 67th minute Longe-King’s poor clearance was seized on by the visitors, with Cole beaten on the right and Griffiths finishing off the ensuing cross with a sharp shot under Minter.
At this point the season might have been about to unravel even further, but Baker made a brave move, withdrawing McLeod and putting on Banya to sharpen the fire-power.
Moss had a double effort at the far post from a Stewart corner blocked on the line and then, in the 81st minute, Moss won a header, Cole extricated himself from the attentions of two opponents on the left and played the ball inside to Banya, who ran on and poked the ball past the outrushing Gay.
The ball went on, hit the far post, and nestled sweetly in the goal and this time Harrow managed to hold onto their lead, for a crucial three points.
It’s now a midweek free from action before another massive game next Saturday, the trip to a Burgess Hill Town side that is presently at the foot of the table.
Harrow: Minter, Moore, Cole, Preddie, Longe-King, Pepera, Cumberbatch, McLeod (Banya 71), Moss, Stewart, Kabba (O’Connor 84). Unused subs: Hazlett, Beggs, Davies-Coker.