Southern League: Taunton Town 7 Harrow Borough 0
PUBLISHED: 09:15 09 December 2018 | UPDATED: 09:15 09 December 2018
©TGS Photo tgsphoto.co.uk +44 1376 553468
Harrow saw three players sent off in the first half of their match with the leaders and conceded five times after the restart on a day to forget in Somerset.
Top scorer and captain Ryan Moss was absent with flu, but George Fenton was fit to resume in the middle of a back three.
But on a very heavy, but perfectly playable, surface, the hosts were the first to show as a great Mitchal Gough challenge stopped Andrew Neal who was otherwise through on goal.
Harrow’s first attempt saw Dylan Kearney hold off a defender to set up Anthony O’Connor, whose low shot was saved by Lloyd Irish.
Shaun Preddie made two fine blocks, but the second went high in the air, dropping for Matt Wright to try an overhead kick that was brilliantly tipped over by Hafed Al-Droubi.
A good tackle by Josh Nelmes then stopped a threatening O’Connor, but in the 19th minute referee Daniel Flynn stopped play, turned and whipped out a red card for Gough.
There was speculation that there may have been a head-butt but also that it might have been in response to being spat at.
But Harrow reorganised well and Preddie made a fine header away from Ryan Brett’s free-kick and Al-Droubi turned over Ed Palmer’s header from the ensuing corner.
Harrow put together a good move as Lewis Cole and Michael Bryan opened up the home defence for Ryan Haugh to get into the penalty area on the left. But he couldn’t shift the ball onto his left foot and his right-foot effort was held comfortably by Irish.
Then in the 34th minute came the second dismissal, when Brett was breaking over the halfway line and was brought down by Fenton and Flynn pulled out a red card.
Josh Andrew got Al-Droubi out of trouble with a fine challenge after the keeper had miskicked to a home forward, and Kearney was sacrificed for Frank Keita to come on and bolster midfield, with Mark McLeod having dropped into the back line.
But in the 44th minute, the inevitable happened as Wright spun to send Neal through to round Al-Droubi and fire home.
And O’Connor then gave Flynn no option but to show a third red card when he went in two-footed on White 15 yards inside the home half.
O’Connor trooped off and, with Harrow trying to work out how to reorganise for a third time, Palmer tried his luck with the free-kick, firing the ball over Al-Droubi from over 60 yards.
Those who had made the 157-mile trek to Somerset would have gladly handed over the points at that moment and gone home, but there were 45 minutes to endure of 11-v-8, with the fear that a fourth dismissal would cause the abandonment of the game and who knows what punishment on the club.
The second half was one-way traffic and White headed wide from a deep cross before, in the 50th minute, Brett’s inswinging corner from the right was turned into his own net by the unfortunate McLeod.
Five minutes later, Al-Droubi’s poor clearance was picked up by Wright, who switched the ball to the right from where it was played into the middle for Matt Buse to fire home.
Al-Droubi tipped over Wright’s header, and the same forward then headed over at the far post from Craig Veal’s cross.
But in the 66th minute, a big scramble in the Harrow goalmouth saw three brave blocks before Neal fired home his second.
Al-Droubi made a diving save from Brett’s shot before a 71st minute right-wing attack found Wright on hand in the middle to turn in Veal’s cross.
The final chapter in an awful afternoon came in the 85th minute when Brett curled a free-kick beyond the reach of the despairing Al-Droubi.
An already wafer-thin Harrow squad will have to face Merthyr Town, Beaconsfield Town and Weymouth without two of the regular three centre-backs, and one striker short too.
Manager Steve Baker is almost certainly going to have to draft in a replacement, or replacements.
Harrow: Al-Droubi, Andrew, Haugh, Preddie, Fenton, Gough, Kearney (Keita 41), McLeod (Ismajli 69), O’Connor, Bryan (El-Sahib 69), Cole.