Southern League: Harrow Borough 3 Merthyr Town 0
PUBLISHED: 07:53 16 December 2018 | UPDATED: 07:53 16 December 2018
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Harrow found the perfect riposte to the perceived injustices of a week ago as, despite missing the three players suspended after the game at Taunton, they scored three goals without reply in a storming second half to rise back up to sixth place in the Evo-Stik South Premier South table.
Borough fans waiting to see who would play at the back, with Mitchal Gough and George Fenton out, found Steve Baker giving a debut to Jordan Ireland, the recent signing from CB Hounslow, and even though reportedly a midfielder he lined up alongside Shaun Preddie at the heart of a back four.
Ryan Moss was fit again to lead the line and there was a midfield start for Frank Keita and on a filthy afternoon weather-wise, that simply got worse throughout the game, Keita’s early through ball to Moss saw the Martyrs’ Matthew Harris make a superb interception.
Harris then got in the way of a fierce Keita shot after Ryan Haugh’s deep cross was half-cleared, while Merthyr’s first effort saw Gavin Williams’s curling free-kick go narrowly over.
Then, when Haugh failed to deal with a ball dropping from high, Ian Traylor latched onto the ball but fired wide.
Michael Bryan was having another excellent afternoon and crossed for Moss to climb above a defender but without enough leverage to extract power on his header.
Hafed Al-Droubi then saved well when a near-post cross from the left picked out Lee Lucas.
Keita’s strike hit his own man, Dylan Kearney, who then headed a superb cross from Josh Andrew wide at the far post.
And Moss then turned winger, crossing for Kearney to again win a header, but this time he put the ball just over.
Harris, the visitors’ outstanding player, then tried his luck from fully 35 yards, with the ball going only just over.
Preddie ensured the half remained goalless with a superb tackle on Tom Meechan just as the visiting striker was about to shoot.
Williams should have given the visitors the lead as the second half began, as he got past Al-Droubi only to fire past the post.
Al-Droubi then batted away an angled shot by Traylor and Ireland made a great challenge to stop Gavin Williams.
At the other end, it was Kyle Patten making a fine interception to stop Moss’s pass from reaching Kearney before Harrow broke the deadlock in the 57th minute.
Bryan’s corner from the right was headed out, but Lewis Cole returned the ball from the left with a fine cross, and there was Keita arriving to fire the ball home from close in.
Another fine cross by Cole was headed clear by Young, but the Borough midfielder was also the creator of the second goal in the 75th minute when his lovely pass from left to right sent Kearney away in the inside-right channel and he drilled the ball early, low and hard across Lewis Webb and into the far corner.
Al-Droubi made a brilliant save at the feet of Craig Reddy to maintain his second clean sheet in consecutive home games and, after a brilliant run by Andrew ended with a blocked shot, the icing was put on the cake in the 88th minute when Cole’s corner was cleared to substitute Shpat Ismajli on the edge of the box.
With one touch he got the ball down and out of his feet and, with the next, he hammered a cannonball of a shot that crashed into the net off the underside of the bar for an early goal of the season contender.
After the game, some of a large Merthyr contingent departed to hand in toys collected for children affected by the Grenfell Tower disaster, the collection boosted by a decent number donated from Harrow.
It was a shame that an afternoon of English-Welsh camaraderie was slightly darkened by the reappearance, for the second consecutive home game, of some youngsters who seem to delight more in goading the opposition than they do in supporting Harrow.
They again disobeyed the instruction to watch each half from the end that Harrow were attacking and some trouble flared in the second half when they antagonised some of the visiting.
Long-standing volunteer stewards should not be having to put their own safety on the line to quell trouble and real Harrow supporters do not want to be leaving games to the accompaniment of blue flashing lights.
Only the tiniest minority imaginable do not wish that these juveniles would find something else to do on their Saturday afternoons.
The Rogers Family Stadium pitch held up well to the constant rain and, all being well, Harrow should be at home again this Tuesday, when Beaconsfield Town will be the visitors.
Harrow: Al-Droubi, Andrew, Haugh, Ireland, Preddie, Keita, Kearney (Muhemba 76), McLeod (Ismajli 81), Moss, Bryan (El-Sahib 84), Cole. Unused sub: Pearce.