Southern League: Weymouth 2 Harrow Borough 2
PUBLISHED: 11:36 23 December 2018
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Showing tremendous spirit, Harrow hit back from being two down with just 15 minutes left, as a Dylan Kearney brace enabled them to return home from the title favourites with a hugely valuable point.
Ryan Haugh returned to the rearguard, thereby allowing Lewis Cole to resume his midfield berth, in the only change to the starting line-up from Tuesday.
Rather surprisingly, Frank Keita was fit to start, though if he’d passed himself fit with still a hint of the injury that had forced him off against Beaconsfield, that was going to come back and bite him. Shpat Ismajli was the unlucky man dropping to the bench.
Harrow began well with Cole, Haugh and Michael Bryan combining well on the left, but the final delivery into the box was lacking, a feature of Borough’s first-half play.
Kearney and Cole combined but Calvin Brooks intercepted Cole’s perceptive pass intended for Ryan Moss, and a Josh Andrew shot was charged down before the hosts began to find their feet.
Andrew had to make a fine clearance from a right-wing delivery, and from Joshua Wakefield’s resulting corner, Stephane Zubar rose highest at the near post and his header hit the bar.
Cole had a shot charged down but from the resulting break, Mark McLeod, who was to have another fine game in front of the back four, picked up a booking for a block.
Kearney was having a physical battle with Zubar, but the Guadeloupean was clearly becoming riled and was very lucky to stay on the field when he shoved Kearney with both arms in the 28th minute.
Referee Mr Annis showed a yellow card when some others might have reached for the red.
Weymouth were becoming the dominant force and Harrow weren’t pressing their opponents in midfield as much as has been the case in recent games.
That cost them in the 32nd minute as Jake McCarthy made a powerful run forward from halfway, exchanged passes with Brandon Goodship, and lashed a cannonball of a 22-yarder off the underside of the bar to give the Terras the lead.
After 41 minutes, Keita went down, clearly in great pain and by the letter of the law, Mr Annis was right not to stop the game, no head injury being involved.
But Keita was just outside the Harrow area, and play went on within feet of him, twice, before eventually Hafed Al-Droubi gathered the ball and hurled it out for a throw in a very angry manner.
That led to a confrontation with Emmanuel Odubade, a sign that the game was on a short fuse, illustrated also by Zubar getting away with another off-the-ball shove on Kearney. Some concerted Borough pressing, at last, saw Cole nick the ball off Wakefield and set up Kearney for an 18-yard drive over, but the half ended with more Weymouth pressure and a fine challenge from Keita’s replacement Ismajli to stop a very dangerous situation.
Steve Baker’s halftime words may have revolved around Harrow showing their opponents too much respect, and when the second half began, they began to press far more, and higher up the field.
Also, Bryan was switched to the right where he was to prove far more effective.
First though, Harrow had to survive a couple of scares as Al-Droubi had to sprint out of his area to get to the ball just before Thomson, and then McCarthy picked out Odubade, whose cross found Goodship and his shot turned aside by Al-Droubi.
Harrow should then have levelled, when Andrew’s cross found Moss, only five yards out, but he headed the ball down and wide of the far post. He would only have seen the ball very late as it passed two men immediately in front of him. Shaun Preddie did some great work to dispossess Goodship, before Bryan’s dinked cross picked out Moss.
This time his header was on target but saved comfortably by Seabright.
Kearney then found Ismajli cutting in from the left, and after he beat a defender his low shot was blocked.
However, in the 69th minute it was the Terras who scored the next goal, when Preddie found himself on the wrong side of Odubade, raiding into the box on the right, bringing him down, and Goodship sent Al-Droubi the wrong way from the spot, his second penalty conversion against Harrow this season.
Preddie was booked for the foul, and that was also to be significant.
Preddie blocked an Odubade shot, and Al-Droubi saved McCarthy’s header from the following corner, but in the 77th minute Harrow gave themselves a lifeline.
A quick break from their own half saw Bryan find Kearney, and he ran into the box in the inside-right channel before lashing a low drive past Seabright at his near post.
At this point, sensing some sudden home unease, the Harrow management gambled, taking off midfielder McLeod and introducing another forward, Ahmed El-Sahib.
The immediate portents of this move were not good, as Al-Droubi saved at the feet of the lightning-quick Abdulai Baggie, who had cut in from the left, and then made a brilliant save to deny Baker.
Those at Taunton had seen a referee stop play for an off-the-ball incident and change its course with the production of a red card.
It was to happen again here as in the 84th minute, Mr Annis was clearly aware that something had gone on and, after a long consultation with his assistant, he walked over to Zubar and showed a straight red.
Borough had their first league penalty of the season too, but Moss had been substituted and George Moore is out injured.
Bryan briefly took the ball, but was then over-ruled by Kearney, whose spot-kick was hit with such ferocity to level the scores on 85 minutes.
One wonders whether the result would have been different had Baggie been on the field for Weymouth for longer. Man-of-the-match at Harrow in August – even taking into account Goodship’s hat-trick – his incredible pace had caused great problems for Harrow ever since his 66th minute introduction, and when he zoomed up the left and found Wakefield, it took a fine tackle from the outstanding Cole to prevent a shot.
With both sides looking for the win, El-Sahib headed wide from Bryan’s corner, but the drama wasn’t over as in stoppage time, Odubade again ran at Preddie, and the Harrow defender again brought him down.
This time the challenge was outside the box, but Preddie got a second yellow card and so Harrow had to defend the resulting free-kick with 10 men.
But they did and the point was celebrated as enthusiastically as any of the recent wins.
Boxing Day sees Hendon visit The Rogers Family Stadium, with the game kicking off at 1pm.
George Fenton and Anthony O’Connor have now cleared their Taunton suspensions and will be available but Preddie will be suspended for the following two games, while Mitchal Gough, who also saw red at Taunton, will be available.
Harrow: Al-Droubi, Andrew, Haugh, Preddie, Ireland, Keita (Ismajli 41), Kearney, McLeod (El-Sahib 79), Moss (Bernard 67), Bryan, Cole.