Harrow Borough crash out of the FA Trophy to Burgess Hill Town

PUBLISHED: 09:30 01 November 2020

Harrow Borough manager Steve Baker (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Harrow Borough manager Steve Baker (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

©TGS Photo +44 1376 553468

FA Trophy: Burgess Hill Town 4 Harrow Borough 1

2017: First hurdle, Haringey Borough; 2018: First hurdle: Biggleswade Town; 2019: First hurdle: AFC Sudbury; 2020: First hurdle: Burgess Hill Town.

Every single one of these, FA Trophy opposition that Harrow Borough could pretty reasonably have been expected to beat, but, every single one of them, a loss.

Somewhere, the message of the necessity (and right now, with bar takings curtailed and a lockdown coming, ‘necessity’ is no understatement) of acquiring FA prize money just doesn’t get through to Harrow Borough players.

This time, in deepest Sussex, they stumbled to a shambolic embarrassment of a performance, after the break especially, against a team propping up the table of a division one strata below their own.

Despite being second best for large parts of the game at Beaconsfield on Monday, the result there was no doubt a factor in Steve Baker naming an unchanged side.

This did of course mean the continuation of midfielders Frank Keita and Kensley Maloney deployed in wing-back positions and, while this was not the only factor in what was to transpire, it nevertheless had significance.

There had been torrential rain before the game but the Leylands Park surface was in good condition, although there was a significant wind blowing: Harrow played into it in the first half.

Harrow might have led after 20 seconds. Keita got away on the right and hit a deep cross to the far post.

Anthony O’Connor’s downward header drew a fine save from Jones but really the finish really shouldn’t have given him the chance to get close to it.

And with the win at their backs the Hillians were soon showing that Harrow were going to be, at best, in for a tough afternoon.

Lewis Cole had to make a great tackle to stop the advancing Ndozid, who then had a volley that O’Connor threw himself at heroically to block. Cole was next to make a fine block, from Williams-Bowers.

Dernell Wynter collected a fine pass from Babs Jarra but shot wide, before having another shot that deflected off Cooper to be saved by Jones.

Liam Ferdinand had the ball in the net for Harrow but was denied by the offside flag, while Box curled a free-kick inches wide for the hosts.

Harrow went ahead after 42 minutes with a clever free-kick routine.

After Maloney was brought down 40 yards from goal in the inside-left channel, Michael Bryan played a low, straight free-kick to Ferdinand, who timed his run off the shoulder of his marker to perfection and clipped a low shot across Jones into the far corner.

Would Harrow now settle down? Would they heck. Just as at Gosport two weeks back, they failed to concentrate after scoring close to half-time. Miller shot wide from an angle and then saw another shot palmed away by Dan Purdue, into the path of Williams-Bowers whose goalbound shot was deflected for a corner.

Purdue came for that corner, an inswinger, but failed to get anything on it and, behind him, Cooper, unmarked, headed home.

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The second half was to prove an unmitigated disaster. By the hour mark, the Hillians led by two goals.

Williams-Bowers’s header was saved, and Ndozid’s shot from Miller’s cut-back was blocked by the overworked Cole, but in the 57th minute Maloney’s clearing header from a right-wing corner was a poor one.

The ball was redelivered from the left and Harding redirected it in to the goal.

Worse followed two minutes later, as Keita’s deficiencies as a right-back were exposed as Smith-Joseph raced past him far too easily before delivering a low cross that Harding stabbed home.

Remember, Burgess Hill were bottom of the Isthmian South East table and had lost their last two games 0-3 and 0-5. So a goal back for Harrow would without doubt have led to some home nerves.

However, Harrow’s passing and ball retention were quite simply woeful. Miller nearly added a fourth as he swept past two Borough defenders and shot past the near post.

Harrow did create a chance when Ferdinand’s fierce shot was tipped away by Jones, with Keita’s follow-up header off target. Jordan Ireland’s effort was then met by an overhead effort from Wynter, the ball going just wide.

That was a rare spark from the new signing who looked otherwise off-the-pace, and with many recalling how well he played against Borough as a pacey winger when with Enfield, the question has to be why he is not being employed wide now: Harrow were so totally lacking any width here and crying out for someone who could get to the by-line and pull the ball across goal.

The game went on and still a goal for Harrow could have meant an exciting finish.

Bryan’s drive from the edge of the box was deflected wide, and Ferdinand shot past the post, but it was an illustration of the visitors’ lethargy when a fine Cole corner flashed across the goalmouth three yards out with no Harrow player moving towards it.

In the 89th minute Purdue charged from his goal out to the right to try to get the ball but the hero of the win at Beaconsfield was having his own Halloween nightmare: Smith-Joseph beat him to it and curled it low into the empty net.

A late Brendan Matthew shot was saved but that would have been but a scant consolation.

The Borough faithful have now witnessed a near-embarrassment at little Langney Wanderers, followed by complete embarrassments at the Met Police, at home to Cray Valley (Paper Mills), and here, watching a team who seem to have serious deficiencies in attitude, application and determination, as well as a shocking lack of ability to defend aerial crosses into their box.

Putting the club’s general health to one side – and I realise it would desperately value income in the next month – there were very few, if any, standing on the terraces at Burgess Hill who weren’t welcoming the prospect of this evening’s lockdown announcement and a few weeks off from watching any more of this.

Burgess Hill Town: Alfie Jones, Louie Downey (booked, 42 mins), Martyn Box (sub Harry Pollard, 81 mins), Joshua Spinks, Nathan Cooper, Samson Doherty (booked, 44 mins; sub Scott Kirkwood, 75 mins), Reece Williams-Bowers, Jordy Ndozid, Max Miller (sub Alex Laing, 75 mins), Pat Harding, Aaron Smith-Joseph.

Unused subs: Elliott Cross, Max Blencowe, Reggie Ward.

Harrow Borough: Dan Purdue, Kensley Maloney, Frank Keita (sub Brendan Matthew, 79 mins), Ben Tricker, Babs Jarra, Jordan Ireland (booked, 62 mins), Lewis Cole, Michael Bryan, Liam Ferdinand, Anthony O’Connor, Dernell Wynter (sub Marc Charles-Smith, 75 mins).

Unused subs: Chinua Cole, Ryan Schmid, Shaun Preddie.

Referee: Mr J Pike

Att. 190

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