Simply Red: Comeback heroes Harrow Borough face their moment of truth

Harrow Borough manager Dave Anderson. Pic courtesy of Andrew Aleksiejczuk

Harrow Borough manager Dave Anderson. Pic courtesy of Andrew Aleksiejczuk - Credit: Archant

In his latest blog, Simon Grigor asks whether Harrow have turned the corner following their fightback from 4-1 down against Maidstone

I don’t think ‘In-game betting’, as trailed on those highly irritating flashing pitch-side adverts in the Premier League (surely they must distract the players too?), is available in the Ryman League.

If it were, it would have been very interesting to note the odds after 50 minutes at the Gallagher Stadium, Maidstone, on Saturday afternoon, on Harrow Borough going away with anything - and indeed whether there would have been any takers.

At that point, Harrow Borough had followed up two desperate performances in the FA Cup against North Greenford United by letting in two early second-half strikes to league leaders Maidstone.

United had already gone in 2-1 up at the break, so most of the Harrow following in mid-Kent would have been hoping for no further damage, the referee ending the game sooner rather than later, and an all-too-familiar miserable trudge home.

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But, five minutes later, Borough put together a sumptuous passing move ending with Simeon Akinola going through one-on-one with the keeper to score his second and give Harrow a slim foothold in the match.

When Michael Peacock drove in a third there were still 17 minutes to go, and with 11 of them remaining Brandon Horner hit a rising 20-yard drive into the top corner to give Harrow a very unlikely point.

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Will that moment prove to be a turning-point in the Harrow season? Manager Dave Anderson, perhaps lucky to still be in his job after the Greenford debacle, had spoken of a very difficult first 10 league fixtures this season, and indeed arguments could be set out for any of the first 10 opponents to be potential championship or play-off contenders at the end of the campaign.

Well, the Maidstone game was the 10th. Games 11 to 13 feature a trip to Carshalton, reprieved from relegation last term by Thurrock’s failure to follow rules; a home game with East Thurrock; and another home game with Wingate & Finchley.

A return of six, seven or nine points ought to be possible from these fixtures. If the resolve and grit that suddenly surfaced in Kent, having been so sadly lacking in the previous three games remains to the fore, then that could be a reality.

A couple of debutants at Maidstone also gave rise to hope: Jake Gilbert provided some steel in midfield while Berkeley Laurencin (admittedly conceding four) gave a bit more confidence between the sticks.

However, the counter-argument would be to note that Harrow lost all three of these fixtures last season. Indeed their form at fellow struggling clubs last campaign was the main reason why they themselves struggled, picking up only one point from their visits to the seven teams who ended the season below them.

The Carshalton trip last season wasn’t merely a defeat: it was perhaps the season’s lowest point, losing to a team that had lost seven on the trot and featuring an extraordinary on-field tantrum of Ola Williams resulting in his immediate substitution like a naughty schoolboy.

Harrow need to show the attitude they displayed in Kent on Saturday this Tuesday evening: match the hosts (who, fresh from a win over Billericay, should be ‘up for it’ too) for resolution and guts, and use that as a bridgehead to play their football.

If not, the feeling that Harrow might just have turned the corner will have to be reconsidered, very rapidly.

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