Southern League: Harrow Borough 0 Gosport Borough 1
PUBLISHED: 12:00 17 September 2018
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A draw would have been a fair result from an entertaining, albeit error-strewn, contest but it was the Hampshire visitors who took the points with a breakaway goal on 84 minutes.
It was a surprise to many that Borough boss Steve Baker selected the same starting line-up, in particular in the midfield, as had begun the FA defeat at Hornchurch a week ago.
However, unlike then, Harrow were into their stride very quickly and patrick O’Flaherty in the Gosport goal had to make the first of many fine saves to turn away Lewis Cole’s shot.
Mitchal Gough flicked the resulting Michael Bryan corner past the near post, before Anthony O’Connor’s run to the right-hand byline ended with a cross to Cole, who took an extra touch when he should have got a first-time shot away and the chance was gone.
Another cross then found Ryan Haugh five yards out, and a goal was prevented by a marvellous block from a visiting defender.
Gosport’s first attempt came when Gough gave the ball away and Ryan Pennery turned to draw a fine full-stretch save from Hafed Al-Doubi.
Gough then made amends with a fine tackle to stop the breaking Tony Lee.
Harrow put together a good move on the left with Haugh, George Fenton and Ryan Moss combining, with Fenton continuing his run into the box to head Moss’s cross on to the top of the bar.
The Harrow defence failed to cover a deep Gosport corner, and Craig McAllister’s header was blocked, before two magnificent defensive blocks, and Al-Droubi falling on the ball, prevented Gosport from taking the lead in a big goalmouth scramble.
Al-Droubi made another good save, and a Bryan left-footer went over, as an even half ended.
Pennery was kept out by another Al-Droubi save, before the second half developed into something of the ‘George Moore show’.
First the Harrow wing-back’s angled 20-yarder whistled just past the far upright, then his shot was deflected wide by Harry Medway.
Haugh, fed by half-time substitute, debutant Dylan Kearney, was then kept out by O’Flaherty.
Moore then made a wonderful run from his own half, checking just outside the edge of the box before drawing a super save from O’Flaherty, who then made an even better one, leaping high to his right to tip away Moore’s 25-yarder.
It was Gosport who then went close as a deep free-kick found former Harrow man Alexander Lafleur in acres of space at the far post, but Al-Droubi made a good save to keep out his low shot.
Haugh and Cole combined for a cross that saw Moss glance a header narrowly wide, but in the 84th minute it was the visitors who broke the deadlock. Fenton was outpaced by Bradley Stone, who drew another defender to him before rolling the ball to Pennery, whose angled shot gave Al-Droubi no chance.
Harrow pressed for an equaliser and Moore tried an audacious free-kick from 30 yards that brought yet another fine save from O’Flaherty.
Moore and then Haugh had shots charged down by the visiting defence and, as at Hornchurch last week, Harry Rush came off the bench to immediate effect, with a side-footed effort from Bryan’s pass that was blocked by a defender.
It’s a fortnight before Harrow have another league game, but they host Hendon in the London Senior Cup on Tuesday.
Harrow: Al-Droubi, Moore, Haugh, Preddie, Gough, Fenton, O’Connor (Kearney 46), Brown (McLeod 46), Moss, Bryan, Cole (Rush 90). Unused subs: Keita, Richards.