Southern League: Salisbury 0 Harrow 6
PUBLISHED: 08:00 28 April 2019 | UPDATED: 08:00 28 April 2019
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Harrow produced their best display of the season – and possibly Steve Baker’s time in charge – to grab seventh place after thrashing play-off bound Salisbury.
Baker juggled the line-up to play with a 4-2-3-1 system, with Michael Bryan, George Moore and Frank Keita operating fluidly behind lone target man Ryan Moss, while Mark McLeod and Lewis Cole did the engine-room work in front of the back four.
But despite a strong wind at their backs and looking for a win to secure a home play-off spot, the hosts looked nervous and long balls downfield floated on the stiff breeze beyond their strikers.
Salisbury did have an early opportunity when some over-casual play by Shaun Preddie forced McLeod into giving away a free-kick, which was swung into the box for Claudio Herbert to volley over from eight yards.
But Harrow were soon on the attack and Keita found Moore, who cut in from the left to fire a right-foot shot past the near post.
Moss then broke forward, slipping the ball to Moore whose low drive was heading for the corner until it was finger-tipped behind by Jake Hallett.
But Salisbury broke an otherwise effective Borough offside trap, and Aaron Dawson's shot went across goal with a stretching Daniel Fitchett unable to keep the ball down at the far post.
A fine Preddie challenge then stopped Herbert as he pressed forward while Chris Shephard was booked for shoving Cole, before Hafed Al-Droubi was off his line quickly to stop Fitchett running on to Tom Whelan's pass.
Harrow opened the scoring in the 32nd minute, as Keita played a sweet ball through to Moore, who ran on to calmly stroke the ball wide of Hallett's left hand.
The nerves increased in the home ranks and after Al-Droubi had comfortably held Lewis Benson's free-kick, they had a let-off when Matthew Partridge's attempted clearing header from Moore's cross crashed off Keita, with Hallett reacting sharply to dive and save.
Some home pressure saw Al-Droubi save from Whelan, and then bravely come through a crowd of players to punch clear Partridge's header back into the goal area from a deep corner.
The Harrow custodian then got down at his near post to foil Shephard, and saved Bay Downing's shot from the edge of the box as the half closed.
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Adam Pepera came on for an injured Preddie at the interval and Harrow had a scare when the second half opened as Ryan Haugh got back to clear an effort that had got past Al-Droubi, but got no distance at all on the ball, and his keeper had to save from Herbert's close-range follow-up.
The hard-working Moss then turned sharply but dragged a left-foot shot wide before Moore's 25-yarder was held by Hallett and, at the other end, Dawson headed wide from a right-wing free-kick.
Harrow doubled their lead in the 59th minute as Keita again burst through and when his effort was half-cleared, Moore bravely headed the ball forward and Moss redirected the ball with a header over Hallett from 10 yards.
Salisbury pressed forward, with Al-Droubi and Pepera combing to stop one attack, and Nathaniel Oseni making a fine tackle to stop another.
The back four and their screening midfield duo were working tirelessly, with Al-Droubi saving at Josh Sommerton's feet when they were breached.
Fitchett had the ball in the net but was denied by the assistant's raised flag before in the 73rd minute, a pass from Michael Bryan from right to left picked out Moore, and he ran on to shoot home, despite Hallett getting a hand to the ball.
Two minutes later, it was 4-0 as Moss ran on to another precision pass and guided the ball calmly past Hallett to the delight of teammates and fans behind the Salisbury goal.
Hallett pulled off a wonder-save to keep out Keita's close-range strike, but in the 82nd minute he was beaten again as Moore played a left-wing corner to Jordan Ireland, who had replaced the tiring McLeod and he picked his spot with a sublime right-foot shot into the far corner.
Sparkes was off-target twice for the Whites, before it was six in the first minute of stoppage time as Keita and Moss broke through and bore down on goal.
Keita unselfishly slipped the ball to Moss, who consigned his goal drought to history by walking the ball in for his hat-trick, the third by a Harrow player this week, to ensure a happy journey home.
Although not the play-off spot that was looking highly likely at the start of the year, seventh place is the best finishing position for Borough for some years, while the 97 league goals they scored was joint-highest in the division.
The last week of the season should ensure Friday's Awards Night is conducted in a very happy atmosphere.
Harrow: Al-Droubi, Andrew, Haugh, Preddie (Pepera 46), Oseni, Moore, Keita, McLeod (Ireland 69), Moss, Bryan (O'Connor 80), Cole. Unused subs: Holland, Muhemba.
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