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Harlow T 1 - Wealdstone 1

 

Fresh from a 6-2 trouncing of Harrow Borough, Harlow must have been in confident mood that they might pick up three fairly easy points at a drenched Barrows Farm Stadium on Tuesday evening, but they found the visitors in a gritty and determined mood not to suffer a similar fate to that of their near neighbours.

In fact it was The Stones who started by far the brighter and only 4 minutes were on the clock when delightful approach work by Dean Papali and Lee O'Leary let in Ben Clarke who fired narrowly wide. Just 3 minutes later a dangerous low cross from Papali was only inches away from being touched home. Young Clarke's pace was causing the Hawk's defence on the right all sorts of problems and, following a clearance for a corner caused by the dashing youngster, James Gray headed just over.

However, the Stones midfield started to find problems dealing with the sodden and heavy pitch and from around 20 minutes they found their passing in midfield too often falling short and being intercepted by the home players. Gradually Harlow assumed control and started to put pressure on the Strones defence. On 23 minutes Harlow's David Lee put in a cross shot from the right that was curling in to the top corner of the net until Keita Karamoko, in for the injured Sean Thomas, leapt to tip the ball over the bar. The same two players repeated the trick just 2 minutes later, this time from a free kick.

The home side were looking increasingly dangerous and took the lead on 36 minutes through Leon Lalite whose sharp shot wrong footed Karamoko and skidded into the net. Harlow finished the half strongly and Karamoko was called upon once again to tip round a terrific shot on the turn from Hawks' skipper, James Bunn.

The second half quickly settled into a midfield tussle as the players found it increasingly tough dealing with the heavy, skiddy pitch and drenching rain. However, the match stepped up a couple of notches on 54 minutes when Harlow's Jordan Fowler made a crude and heavy challenge on Lee O'Leary that the Wealdstone man reacted to. A melee involving most of the outfield players ensued that resulted in both Fowler and O'Leary receiving their marching orders and Papali a booking. Lee O'Leary can count himself a little hard done by as he was certainly more sinned against than sinner.

Manager Bartlett then made a decision that, to quote "Yes Minister", was "brave" by taking off imspirational skipper Chris O'Leary, bringing on Lee Chappell to play in defence, and moving Carl Martin into midfield. 5 minutes later Peter Dean came on for a tiring Papali and with the switch and fresh legs the Stones started to once again look dangerous in attack. With 69 minutes gone Gray launched a ludicrously long ball that Dean raced on to, cut inside his marker and curled a delightful shot that hit the inside of the far post and bounced clear of three onrushing Stones players. The home fans barely had time to celebrate their good fortune before Chappell was fed the ball out on the left and his crisply delivered cross was gleefully headed past a helpless Hassel by Carl Martin for the equaliser.

The game now became an exciting end to end affair and both keepers had to be on top form to prevent their respective sides falling behind. First, Kakamoko made a superb reaction save from Bunn and just 5 minutes later Hassel miraculously saved a Gray thunderbolt at point blank range. Both Dean for the Stones and Bunn for the Hawks had opportunities to win the game but failed to find the target when well placed. The final action were needless bookings for Stephen Hughes and Lee Miles for a piece of sillines in midfield.

Managers are said to live and die by their decisions both of selection and substitutions. Gordon's decision to move Carl Martin into midfield was one that paid huge dividends. He should feel very pleased with himself today.

Karamoko,Martin(s. 69m), Ben Clarke, James Gray, Marcus Gross, Ryan Ashe, Lee O'Leary(sent off 54m),
Chris O'Leary, Stephen Hughes(b. 92m), Dean Papali(b.54m), Graeme Montgomery Subs Peter Dean,
Chappell, Mudlowney & Delisser

MoM

Crowd: 190