FA Trophy: Biggleswade Town 2 Harrow Borough 1
PUBLISHED: 22:02 27 October 2018
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The book of Harrow Borough FA Trophy disasters is already a long one, but it had another significant chapter added to it on a bitingly cold and wet afternoon in Bedfordshire.
Leading from the first minute, Harrow contrived to concede two bad goals in the final 11 minutes to exit the competition at the first hurdle.
There was one change to the starting line-up from last Saturday’s win over Dorchester, with George Fenton unavailable, as Mark McLeod came in to play in front of a back-four in a deep-lying midfield screening role.
The game got off to an electric start as Harrow scored in just 14 seconds.
Taking the kick-off, the ball was played right to George Moore, then to Mitchal Gough, and his ball downfield was chased by Ryan Moss, who held off former Harrow centre-back David Longe-King to loft the ball over keeper Donkin, who had hesitated in coming off his line to meet the threat.
And it was nearly 2-0 in the third minute, as Moore spotted Donkin off his line and tried an audacious effort from the halfway line that hit the post.
The Waders then settled and first Shaun Preddie and then Gough had to make excellent challenges to stop White when he threatened to get clear of the Harrow defence.
Preddie made a fine clearing header when Biggleswade won consecutive headers from a corner, and then stopped McNamama with another fine tackle.
Harrow attacks were coming to little as time and time again they failed to take into account the very strong and freezing cold wind that was heavily in their favour, with far too many passes, and especially dead-ball kicks, going way beyond the forwards.
However, Moss’s cross nearly produced an own goal, as Bradshaw’s clearance wasn’t far wide of the near post, and then Anthony O’Connor angled a shot over following a fine pass inside the full-back from Frank Keita.
Gough headed a Moore free-kick wide as a half closed in which both sides might have been reduced to 10 men, with referee Mr Smith showing leniency in merely showing McLeod, and The Waders’ Forbes, yellow cards for what were pretty awful challenges, the latter especially so.
The second half opened with a Michael Bryan cross that clipped the top of the bar, and an O’Connor driven effort from an angle over the bar, but Biggleswade threatened when White controlled a left wing cross, spun, and shot over.
Donkin saved Moore’s deflected shot, with substitute Clark off-target for the hosts.
With neither team mastering the difficult conditions – with it now raining heavily too – and with Hafed Al-Droubi having not been called into serious action, in the 78th minute Steve Baker took off McLeod and brought on Dylan Kearney.
Within a minute Biggleswade were level, as McNamara chased after a lofted through ball and lifted it past Al-Droubi.
Harrow had to reorganise and protect their back line, but the opposite happened instead in the 83rd minute as another long ball downfield found three home attackers up against just two Harrow defenders.
White worked the ball on to McNamara, who found Clark, and he had time and space to bury his shot as complaints about a handball somewhere in the move fell on deaf ears.
With the game in stoppage time, Harrow created one chance to take the tie back to The Rogers Family Stadium for a replay when a free-kick saw O’Connor’s overhead kick beat Donkin but be blocked by a defender.
Substitute Excellence Muhemba’s follow-up cannoned off the crossbar and Preddie then had a goalbound drive blocked, before the ball was hacked clear.
To compound the woe, Gough was sent off after the final whistle for abusing the officials, so will miss three games.
For the second season running, Harrow have failed to take a single penny of the riches on offer for FA Cup and FA Trophy successes.
This time around, there will no doubt be moans that Hornchurch (in the FA Cup) and Biggleswade were both very tough away draws, but those who saw both games will feel had Harrow brought the ‘A’ game that has been seen in their away league fixtures, they would have progressed in one if not both competitions.
Elsewhere, a draw for Metropolitan Police in their FA Trophy tie means that Harrow will not be travelling to face them in the Southern League this Tuesday. Instead their next fixture will be on Walton Casuals’ 3G surface next Saturday.
Harrow: Hafed Al-Droubi, George Moore, Ryan Haugh, Shaun Preddie, Mitchal Gough, Frank Keita, Anthony O’Connor, Mark McLeod (Dylan Kearney 78), Ryan Moss, Michael Bryan (Excellence Muhemba 90), Lewis Cole. Unused subs: Keval Patel, Samuel Olanrewaju, Shpat Ismajli.