Southern League: Harrow 1 Taunton Town 0
PUBLISHED: 08:17 03 March 2019
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Harrow gained sweet revenge over Southern League leaders Taunton with a slender success at the Rogers Family Stadium on Saturday.
And for every player, staff member, official or supporter who trekked back home miserably from Taunton in December after a 7-0 defeat, it was especially sweet.
Steve Baker’s men produced a great team performance, solid at the back, committed in midfield and lively up-front, to down the leaders and keep their own play-off prospects alive.
There was one change to Tuesday’s starting line-up, as Baker reverted to a back three with the addition to the squad of Adam Pepera, returning to the club after spells at Farnborough and Hendon.
Mark Bitmead dropped to the bench and, attacking the school end in the first half, Harrow had the first attempt on goal, with Frank Keita’s shot saved by Lloyd Irish after good work by Josh Andrew and Anthony O’Connor.
Action switched to the other end as Hafed Al-Droubi held Pierce Mitchell’s dipping strike but when Michael Bryan crossed to the near post, O’Connor’s header flew across goal.
Mitchell threatened again, with his shot screwing off Ryan Haugh and going just wide, and Andrew then cut in from the right and hit a low left-footed effort that Irish saved low down at his near post.
The visiting keeper then held a free-kick from Frank Keita and in the 26th minute, Pepera’s drilled low ball forward sent O’Connor running into the box, where he was brought down by White.
Ryan Moss calmly converted the penalty.
Taunton threatened an equaliser when Matt Wright shot over, and when Andrew Neal had a brief sight of goal, lifting the ball over Al-Droubi but also over the bar.
When, between them, Al-Droubi and Shaun Preddie messed up a clearance, it allowed Neal in on the left, but Pepera did incredibly well to get back and hook his shot off the line.
In front at the break, many expected the second period to be one of a rearguard action, but this was far from the case. Man-of-the-match Bryan briefly got past a defender 10 yards out, but was closed down before he could shoot and Andrew’s long ball forward then sent O’Connor in on goal, but Irish made a fine double save, first from him and then, better still, as Moss moved onto the loose ball.
A nice one-two between O’Connor and Andrew then saw O’Connor drive over from 20 yards and great work from Bryan ended in a reverse pass to his right to Moss, whose low drive was well saved by Irish.
Taunton’s most serious threat of the second half came after 75 minutes, as Nathaniel Oseni, otherwise very sound, gave the ball away, and a dangerous attack from the Peacocks ended with Al-Droubi grabbing a back pass, to give away an indirect free-kick about 15 yards out.
When the ball was tapped to Craig Veal, Preddie threw himself in front of his shot, and Al-Droubi made a fine save from the follow-up effort from Dan Sullivan.
However, Harrow were soon back on the offensive again, as Moss continued his personal battle with Irish, with the keeper making another fine save from a low goalbound strike.
Substitute Mitchal Gough blazed a late half-chance over as Harrow saw the game out without alarm for three vital points and they will now host Welling United in the London Senior Cup semi-final on Tuesday, before embarking on a league trip to Wales next Saturday to visit Merthyr Town.
Harrow: Al-Droubi, Haugh, Preddie, Oseni, Pepera, O’Connor (Muhemba 80), McLeod, Moss, Bryan (Gough 90), Keita. Unused subs: Holland, Odetola, Bitmead.