Simply Red: Harrow Borough improving - just not at home!

Harrow Borough manager Dave Anderson

Harrow Borough manager Dave Anderson - Credit: Archant

Harrow Borough are much-improved in recent weeks – but try telling that to those who only attend their home games! The last two weeks have illustrated that perfectly.

A fortnight ago, Borough laboured at times to a 4-2 home win against then bottom-of-the-table Cray Wanderers. Although they took their chances in front of goal, Harrow looked skittish at the back.

However, the following Tuesday, a confident side were on display at Hampton & Richmond Borough, passing the ball sweetly, and with the continued danger in attack backed by some rock-solid defending in the middle of the second half when the hosts laid siege to James Shea’s goal.

The 1-1 draw might have been a different result had the referee chosen to award one of what seemed two really good shouts for penalties late in the proceedings.

The next game was another road trip, this time to an AFC Hornchurch outfit that would have gone top of the table with a win. With Rob Wolleaston pulling the strings and the three-man attack of Victor Osobu, Steve Butterworth and Calum Willock interchanging and causing the hosts all sorts of problems, Harrow went 2-0 up, but when Hornchurch drew level midway through the second half, it seemed like there would be only one winner.

But – and here’s the important point – Harrow kept playing their passing game, creating two more goals to provide the shock result of the evening.

So they returned to Earlsmead on Saturday with spectators no doubt looking forward to seeing a continuation of these away performances.

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And Harrow began with all guns blazing, two shots crashing off the Thamesmead woodwork in the opening five minutes. For the next 20 minutes it looked as if a goal would come at any moment, but then it all went flat, the lowly visitors got into the game and it was no surprise when they took the lead as the half drew to a close.

Having missed a penalty, Harrow drew level with another of Shaun Lucien’s catalogue of terrific free-kicks with 20 minutes left. Thus Harrow had a golden chance to pick up three points against a side whose recent games have been characterised by the concession of late goals.

But, unlike at Hornchurch, Harrow did not pass the ball around. Instead, long balls from the back were the order of the day. Calum Willock looks a fine player when the ball is played into his feet, his strength allowing him to hold off opposition defenders.

But he’s no better than any other sub-six foot striker at attempting to do something with balls coming in three feet above his head.

Nevertheless, Harrow ought at least to have seen the game out for a point but, two minutes from time, everyone in the ground could see Thamesmead’s Baker standing totally unmarked around the penalty spot as the visitors prepared for a corner. Everyone, that is, except those in red shirts.

The corner was delivered perfectly on to his (free) head, from where it was dispatched into the Harrow goal via team-mate Hopkins’s redirection.

So, from five consecutive home league games against Hendon, East Thurrock, Wingate & Finchley, Cray and Thamesmead, none of whom would be expected to challenge at the top of the pile, Harrow have garnered four points.

Meanwhile, the last five on the road, which have included games with championship challengers Maidstone and Hornchurch, have seen 11 points harvested in an unbeaten run. No wonder those who attend only at Earlsmead are puzzled.

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