Southern League: Wimborne Town 5 Harrow Borough 3
PUBLISHED: 14:30 19 August 2018
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From being in total control of the game on their first ever visit to Wimborne, Harrow threw away three points with a second half display in which their defence was cut to ribbons and two men were sent off.
Having scored nine goals in their three opening fixtures, Harrow have only three points to show for it, and it’s looking absolutely essential that they return to the three-man back-line, with wing-backs, that had been the foundation of their revival in the second half of last season.
Wimborne’s Cuthbury has a huge diagonal slope from one end to the other, and an unchanged Borough line-up found themselves kicking up it in the first half.
But that didn’t stop them imposing an early control on the game and twice, good work by Ryan Moss on the left set up opportunities.
The first saw Mark McLeod fire over from 25 yards and the second resulted in Ryan Haugh’s deflected shot being well saved by home keeper Gerard Benfield.
The hosts’ first attack saw Haugh in action at the other end, clearing the ball from Jordan Lee as the latter shaped to shoot, and Harrow went in front in the 14th minute, when Lewis Cook’s inswinging corner from the right was bundled in by an unmarked Moss, being watched by his father – who lives in Dorset and who hadn’t seen his son play for seven years.
With Wimborne having lost their opening pair of fixtures, there was now the opportunity for Harrow to take control and Cook fired over from Lynton Goss’s pass, Benfield held George Moore’s low inswinging cross, Goss fired a left-footer across goal when a better option would have been a return pass to Moss, and then stretched at the far post to fire wide from Moss’s cross.
Moore fired a shot way over the bar and home skipper Scott Arnold made a great tackle on Haugh who had burst past two defenders and was shaping to shoot.
In the 34th minute, a second goal finally arrived as Goss challenged Lewis Tallack and the ball broke to Michael Bryan in the inside left channel just outside the box, and he calmly guided the ball past Benfield’s left hand into the far corner.
There had been signs of sloppiness from Harrow when in command of a game last Tuesday at Kings Langley and, at 2-0 up, they made a reappearance here.
Hafed Al-Droubi had to make a decent save to foil Luke Burbridge who had forced his way past Haugh, and in the 41st minute, after Shaun Preddie had needlessly given away a throw-in, the Harrow central defence froze as Tobias Holmes advanced on Al-Droubi to lift the ball over the Harrow keeper and in.
Cole dived to head Moss’s right-wing cross wide, and Bryan shot across goal, as the half finished with Harrow just a goal ahead and in need of a kick up the backside as to why it wasn’t more.
But if that had happened in the dressing room, there was little sign of it when the second period began.
McLeod had to bail out Preddie, whose carelessness had given the ball away, with a good tackle on Lee, and when the Harrow defence were found collectively dozing in the 55th minute as Wimborne took a quick throw-in, Haugh found himself on the wrong side of an attacker, brought him down, and Jack Lovell send Al-Droubi the wrong way from the spot.
It was to get much worse as George Fenton fired wide from 30 yards and Moore found the side-netting with an attempt on goal from a narrow angle when he really should have crossed, but Magpie tails were up and Al-Droubi tipped away a curler from Curtis Young before a big scramble in the Harrow goalmouth eventually saw the ball hacked clear.
In the 67th minute, McLeod went in with a tackle that, though it won the ball, was clearly one of ‘excessive force’ and after consulting his assistant, referee Mr Sandoe reached for the red card.
There was further punishment as the resulting free-kick was bundled in at the back stick by Sam Davidson with Al-Droubi rooted to his line.
And in the 72nd minute Preddie, booked for arguing about the penalty, brought down Burbridge after a long ball forward had turned the Harrow defence, with his second yellow card reducing Harrow to nine men.
They held out for a while, helped by two great Al-Droubi saves, the first when he touched Lovell’s shot onto a post, and the second a save with his legs from Young.
In the 83rd minute, Harrow ventured forward and Moore went down under James Stokoe’s challenge, but Sandoe waved away the penalty appeals and 10 seconds later, the ball was in the visiting net, as the resulting quick break ending with Stephan Penny setting up Young to side-foot past an exposed Al-Droubi.
The Harrow keeper then kept out Holmes, and Young, and remarkably in the 87th minute Harrow gave themselves just a glimmer of hope when hard work by Moss created the chance for Moore to drive the ball past Benfield from 10 yards and make it 4-3.
But two minutes later, Borough gave the ball away and Burbridge took the ball into the Harrow box before unselfishly squaring it to Holmes who finished easily.
Late efforts by Moore, Anthony O’Connor and Haugh came to nothing and Harrow were left to reflect how an afternoon that had started so well had been reduced to ashes.
Harrow now have a week off before entertaining Tiverton Town, a side that has won their opening three games, at The Rogers Family Stadium next Saturday.
Harrow: Al-Droubi, Moore, Haugh, Preddie, Fenton, Brown (El-Sahib 65), Bryan (O’Connor 76), McLeod, Moss, Goss (Richards 73), Cole. Unused subs: Keita, Rush.