Harrow Borough continue good form with FA Trophy win over South Park

Harrow Borough manager Steve Baker (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Harrow Borough manager Steve Baker (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Harrow will arrive at Portsmouth next Saturday on a run of 13 wins in the last 15 games, but this one was probably the least convincing in that sequence as they sealed a 1-0 win over South Park.

Completely dominant in the first half, but missing a host of chances in the process, Harrow had to survive a few scares in a more even second half before they progressed past this stage of the FA Trophy for the first time since 2016.

With the big game at Fratton Park in mind, George Moore was rested as he has a slight hamstring strain, while James Ewington and Michael Bryan spent the afternoon on the bench.

Imran Uche was not allowed by parent club Hampton & Richmond Borough to get cup-tied in non-league football’s main national competition.

So there were starts for Ayodeji Owoeye and Dernell Wynter up-front, while Lewis Cole and Kunle Otudeko came in to the midfield.

The Whitehall Lane stadium is basic, albeit very neat and tidy with friendly officials, but the pitch left a lot to be desired, the length of grass probably the longest that Borough will play on this campaign.

Nevertheless, on another nice, sunny, end-of-October afternoon, Harrow started very briskly.

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Otudeko’s shot from Wynter’s cross was blocked, before Wynter got his head to James Taylor’s long ball, his flick-header saved by the friendly and entertaining home keeper Freeman.

Wynter shot across goal, Cole blasted a 20-yarder just over the bar, and Frank Keita cut in from the right to have his first shot blocked by Freeman, full in the face, before his attempt to net the rebound was blocked.

In the ninth minute, Harrow made the breakthrough, Wynter chasing down Tyler Brown so that the home defender lost the ball, Wynter collecting it and smashing it home from about 15 yards.

The rest of the half saw near-total Harrow domination. Wynter shot across goal after a clever pass from Owoeye, Wynter was crowded out as he moved onto Cole’s cross, and Taylor’s 20-yarder was saved.

Good covering from Shaun Preddie stopped Jalloh in a rare Sparks attack, before Keita missed a good chance to double the lead, driving over the bar after Otudeko and Owoeye had set him up.

Freeman saved when Owoeye cut in from the left and tried to poke the ball under him, and Keita’s near-post corner was met by a header from Taylor that hit the angle of the far post and bar.

Another Owoeye effort went right across the goal, Samuel Adenola returning the ball from the other direction, straight across the goal with all the Harrow following expecting the net to bulge.

Owoeye made inroads into the box once again, shooting over after beating a defender, and then Otudeko intercepted Tyler Brown’s header but couldn’t find the net.

Preddie stretched at the far post to meet Keita’s free-kick, the ball flying wide, in the last action of the half.

You don’t need to have long memories of games like this in which Harrow have dominated, to remember a couple where things went badly wrong: Langney Wanderers, in last season’s FA Cup, was one that sprung to mind as the Harrow following contemplated at the break how and why their side was only a goal ahead, and the danger that arose from such a situation.

As the second half began, the Harrow superiority continued, as Cole went close with two efforts and a James Mansfield header from Keita’s corner smacked off the crossbar.

Keita then fed Wynter who chested the ball down but drove it wide. But Keita then erred badly, losing possession and forcing Mansfield to take drastic action to stop a very dangerous Sparks attack.

Mansfield sent Owoeye through only for Freeman to save, but suddenly it was South Park who threatened.

Josh Strizovic had to make a great save to turn away Jordan’s shot, but the ball fell to Jalloh on the edge of the box and he hit the bar when an effort on target would surely have gone in.

Tyler Brown then drove another shot over, and Aziz’s drive was saved by a suddenly-busy Strizovic, who made another good stop to keep out substitute Dacruz.

Mansfield, stretching, headed a Keita corner wide, but Harrow had two more let-offs as Jalloh twice bore down on goal, shooting over and then firing wide.

South Park finished the game on the attack, with successive corners, and Harrow were far more relieved than they should have been to hear the final whistle.

The win seemed to have come at a cost, with Otudeko limping off with ten minutes to go and looking distraught as he did so, in the manner of a man who appeared to know that whatever he had done was going to keep him out of next Saturday’s big day.

And regarding the Portsmouth game, tickets will continue to be on sale at the club every day until Thursday, November 4: for times see the club website