Bostik Premier: Harrow Borough 2 Thurrock 0
PUBLISHED: 08:39 11 February 2018 | UPDATED: 08:39 11 February 2018
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A second-half brace from Kurtis Cumberbatch and first league clean sheet since the start of December, brought three massive points to Harrow and created a little more breathing space near the foot of the table.
For the third Saturday in four, a dry start to the day had turned to increasingly heavy rain.
But unlike at Billericay and Dorking, the pitch at the Rogers Family Stadium was playable at 3pm, though it did cut up during the afternoon.
Borough were missing the ill Sahr Kabba and the suspended Mark McLeod, but welcomed back Chinua Cole as namesake Lewis made his first start.
Charles Banya partnered Ryan Moss up front and Howard Hall took David Longe-King’s place in a three-man central defence.
Harrow nearly scored in the first 15 seconds, as Banya’s deep cross from the left met by a George Moore shot past the far post.
But Thurrock then might have taken the lead as Ronnie Winn held off Shaun Preddie’s challenge but clipped the ball over the bar.
In the 17th minute, Moore sent Banya through and he cut back past a defender to open the way for a shot but, faced with just Ben McNamara to beat, blazed over.
Michael Bryan’s corner was then cleared back to him and his cross to the far post led to a scramble that concluded with Moore’s shot being blocked.
And Moss then headed the ball on for Banya, who was again one-on-one with McNamara, but this time his shot was on target and the visiting keeper saved.
Banya had another chance, when put through by Moore and Moss combining, but was stopped by a double challenge by Joe Oseyemi and former Harrow skipper Curtis Ujah.
And although Moss had the ball in the net, it was ruled out as Banya, the provider this time, had been flagged offside.
Cumberbatch had a shot on the turn blocked after good work by Bryan but after all Harrow’s domination, it took an outstanding save from Melvin Minter, leaping to his right to claw away Lewwis Spence’s shot that was arrowing towards the top corner.
Ujah threw himself in the way of another Banya shot, sending it over the bar, and then Joel Nouble was presented with the ball by a Minter fumble but, from a tight angle, sent the ball wide of the near post.
An entertaining half ended with Hall making a fine clearing header from a right-wing cross but an altercation in the tunnel between two Thurrock players, Ujah and Timothy Ogunrinde, saw neither emerge for the second half.
And maybe Thurrock were still adjusting to their double change in the 50th minute, as Moss sent Moore away on the right, and his low cross was turned into the net from three yards by the inrushing Cumberbatch.
Bryan’s shot was blocked, with Moore driving the rebound wide from the edge of the box, and McNamara made a fine save to tip away Banya’s shot from 20 yards.
But at the other end, Chinua Cole deflected a shot wide, before Winn’s cross reared up off Hall, forcing Minter to make a good claim.
Moss twisted away from a defender on the right and fired in a low left-footer that McNamara saved but Minter then made a bizarre save, rushing out, falling over one of his own defenders but managing to head the ball clear as he fell forward.
The Harrow keeper then made a more conventional save, but a very fine one, diving low to his left to turn round Spence’s shot.
Banya was foiled by McNamara as he attempted to beat him at the near post with a low drive having cut in from the left, before Thurrock substitute Reece Cave was just off-target with a cross-shot.
Harrow made the points safe in the 87th minute as Lewis Cole capped a fine game by holding the ball up on the edge of the box before laying it to his right to Cumberbatch, who steadied himself before driving the ball low past McNamara’s left hand into the corner.
Minter made a fine save in stoppage time to ensure that first clean sheet of 2018 and Harrow’s next league game is a trip to the Metropolitan Police next Saturday.
Tuesday night sees them make the very short journey to Rayners Lane for their Middlesex Charity Cup second-round tie.
Harrow: Minter, Moore, C Cole, Preddie, Hall, Pepera, Banya (O’Connor 77), Cumberbatch, Moss, Bryan (Beggs 88), L Cole. Unused subs: Merchan Rodriguez, Longe-King.