Harrow Borough substitutes make the difference in Weston victory
Showing a depth in the squad that has rarely been the case in recent years, it was Steve Baker’s three substitutes who changed the course of this game for Harrow Borough as they sealed a 1-0 win over Weston Super Mare.
Beginning to lose out in midfield and threatening less up-front, the introduction of three men late on in this game turned the tide and it was one of the newcomers, Kunle Otudeko, who was on hand to fire in the winner one minute into stoppage-time.
With Michael Bryan unwell and Frank Keita injured on the shocking Hendon surface last Tuesday, Baker drafted in Alfie Cain and Dernell Wynter for their first league starts of the season.
There was also a change in goal as Daman Las had been recalled from loan by Fulham (shades of Max Oberschmidt here) and with Dan Lincoln still nowhere to be seen, other than turning out for Berkshire at cricket, in came another loanee keeper, Josh Strizovic from Dagenham.
Strizovic was to go on to have a solid display, but he had a nervy start as Turner’s low cross-shot slipped from his grasp, a follow-up effort hacked off the line.
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McCootie then shot wide from a cross by the dangerous Bastin.
Harrow’s first effort was inches from giving them the lead, as Kamon-Sherell Assidjo surged forward on the right, laying the ball inside for Dernell Wynter, whose rasping 20-yarder smacked off Purnell’s right-hand upright.
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The Seagulls then enjoyed a good spell with Grubb’s shot blocked by Samuel Adenola, the same player then denied by a good tackle by Shaun Preddie.
A corner saw a McCootie header blocked, the ball falling to the edge of the box where Humphries hit a fierce drive that Strizovic tipped over.
Harrow then broke quickly upfield, Assidjo finding George Moore whose run on goal was blocked by Bastin who’d done very well to get back.
The second half began with Moore nearly finding James Ewington with a clever pass through the middle, but the ball hit the striker on the back and Purnell was able to clear.
When Cain lost the ball, Bastin brought it forward, cut inside and saw his shot deflected wide. Humphries fired a 20-yarder over.
Moore then tracked from right to left across the area, spurning the chance to lay the ball off and instead hitting a weak shot that didn’t trouble Purnell.
Weston substitute Murray fizzed a low cross across the Harrow goalmouth with McCootie just failing to get a touch.
Assidjo and Wynter then combined to play in Ewington, whose goalbound shot was stopped by a great interception by Jagger-Cane.
Strizovic then saved well from Grubb who’d been sent through by a massive kick downfield by Purnell.
Harrow were beginning to lose out in what had previously been a very close midfield battle, and Baker made three rolls of the dice.
Lewis Cole came on for Cain, Kunle Otudeko replaced Wynter and, a few minutes later, Ayodeji Owoeye was on for Assidjo. All three had an impact.
Cole started to win balls in midfield and Owoeye ran forward strongly with the ball, while Otudeko was at his most magical, the ball tied to his feet and neither colleagues nor opponents quite knowing what he was going to do.
Preddie brought the ball forward on the right, his cross half-cleared to Owoeye whose shot was blocked.
Turner blocked a shot from Ewington, Moore shot across goal and then a Moore free-kick came off the wall to Otudeko whose effort was blocked.
Harrow were now the dominant force with Weston tiring and, in the 91st minute, the breakthrough came with a huge scramble.
Ewington’s effort from a narrow angle came down off the bar, Moore’s shot was brilliantly saved by Purnell but, when the ball came back to Moore, he laid it to his left to Otudeko, who slammed in the winner.
That’s three wins in three competitions in a super eight days for Borough, who now travel to third-place Farnborough for more league action on Tuesday evening.