Southern League: Met Police 1 Harrow 3
PUBLISHED: 19:00 08 March 2020 | UPDATED: 19:00 08 March 2020
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Harrow’s six-game run without a win ended at Imber Court and fears of dropping down to the bottom three were eased ahead of a vital home game against Salisbury and trip to third place Swindon.
Steve Baker's luck with injuries became worse and left him with very minimal choices, meaning he had to name himself as a substitute.
Tyler Tobin made his debut in goal for Harrow, with Luca Ashby-Hammond having sustained a groin injury training at parent club Fulham on Thursday, whilst with Marc Charles-Smith out with a broken arm, Brendan Matthew resumed his hunt for his first Harrow goal.
Michael Bryan, who injected pace and skill into every Harrow attack, had the support of Thomas Scott, recalled for the suspended Lewis Cole, and George Moore in midfield.
The away side lined up a strong defence with Ben Tricker, captain Shaun Preddie and Jordan Ireland together at centre-back, while Met Police's star man, Ayoub Assal, started in centre midfield and would remember his brilliant solo goal at the reverse fixture.
A modest Harrow crowd travelled to the game, which only made up a 139 attendance in total, and the lack of support may have affected Harrow early on when a third-minute header by Lewis Birch slammed straight into the back of the net.
The assist from Oliver Knight was the start of a few dangerous corners in the first 10 minutes and Harrow looked very weak in the air.
Met's quick start brought danger again when George Frith's shot was cleared off the line by Scott but Harrow managed to control the second part of the half and played some nice football.
Their first chance came from an unlikely candidate, as Preddie made himself free on the edge of the box, but the captain's sliced shot smashed into the side netting.
Met Police were finding it hard now to keep the ball and didn't produce much in attack, although Knight's dangerous crosses put constant pressure on the Harrow defence.
The first of many yellow cards was given to Joshua Andrew for a high-footed challenge and five more cards were given in the second half.
Even though Harrow had improved there were still mistakes that had to be fixed to ensure they didn't fall further behind, one of them being Tobin's poor goal kick which was nearly punished by Assal's cheeky chip over the top.
However, half-time seemed to come at the wrong time for Baker's Borough as they were gaining momentum in the last few minutes of the half with Bryan leading the attacks.
A free kick by Bryan proved a test for the young goalkeeper Rhys Forster, but he managed to punch it away and end Harrow's intense five minutes.
The visitors managed to pick up exactly where they left off and started the second half with a powerful header from Preddie, but Junior Eldstal made a goal line clearance to keep it out.
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Bryan and O'Connor carried on controlling the attacks for Harrow, and their closest chance of the game so far came through Anthony O'Connor's right footed low shot.
Once again, Forster made himself big and prevented the equaliser, and only a couple of minutes later he stopped O'Connor's second attempt, but could do nothing when Matthew got the rebound and with it, his first Harrow goal.
Met Police looked tired by the hour mark and were left open to many Bryan attacks, but it was Baker who made the first change, maybe worried about Harrow's discipline letting them down, as by now Preddie and Tricker were booked as well, leaving them limited in the kind of tackles they could make.
Young Dylan Ive replaced George Moore, and this seemed to inject a bit more pace into the away side, and Bryan's ability shone again when he led another dangerous Harrow counter attack.
Despite the fact Met Police looked fatigued, they still had the odd chance up front and it looked like the perfect opportunity when Knight was left alone at the back post, but he failed to make perfect connection with the ball and Tobin bravely saved with his feet.
Frith made way for Kai Hamilton after his yellow card for dissent and Gavin Macpherson would hope this changed the energy of his team because they were fighting for the draw now.
Harrow favoured their attacking players as the last 15 minutes drew close and Kunle Otudeko came on to replace O'Connor, who had been hassling the Met Police defence all day long, chasing long balls and winning headers.
With Otudeko's first few touches he proved he was the super sub Harrow had needed and a sudden change in possession left Otudeko alone with Alex Fisher and the Harrow attacker used this to his advantage, beating the defence with a neat couple of step overs and drilling a sweet left-footed shot straight into the top right corner.
Baker brought on big George Fenton for Brendan Matthew and a centre-back moving into a centre forward's position could only mean one thing - Harrow were looking to make certain of victory.
Referee Andy Bennett had not finished his servings of yellow cards just yet, as the last four minutes were taken up by two Met Police yellow cards, Knight for dissent and Birch for a poor tackle.
Macpherson's side were desperate for at least a draw because Poole Town are one point above them with a massive five games in hand.
An attacking substituion was made as normal time drew to a close, with Ross Murdoch replacing defender Fisher but this did not seem to have any positive effect on Met Police's team as their defence was left open for the four minutes added on.
After defending two dangerous corners, Harrow's man of the match Bryan picked the ball up on the edge of his own box and played a masterclass of a pass through to Ive.
The promising midfielder used his pace to get away from Met Police's last man and slotted a lovely right-footed shot past the keeper.
The result should put Baker's team in a much better mindset going into two tough fixtures against the league's seventh and third placed sides but if they manage to get through those, their next six games are against teams from the bottom half of the table, including Dorchester Town.
Harrow: Tobin, Andrew, C Cole, PReddie, Tricker, Ireland, Moore (Ive 67), Scott, Matthew (Fenton 85), Bryan, O'Connor (Otudeko 80). Unused sub: Baker.
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