Late slip-up costs Hawks
By Ian Barham
A last gasp winner from the visitors piled more misery on the Hawks, stretching the winless run to six games.
The visitors opened the scoring against the run of play as a defensive mix-up gifted Merstham a chance, before Charlie Edwards pulled level just four minutes later with a well-taken goal.
The Hawks had controlled the second period without managing to put the visitors’ goal under direct threat, but Merstham had the last laugh when a 90th minute goal inflicted a third consecutive league loss.
In an entertaining first half, the visitors started well when Alex Addai flashed a cross across the face of goal, but with no-one in the six yard box to tap in the Hawks escaped with a warning shot.
Syrus Gordon then put down a marker with a 20 yard strike, but the effort was blocked before it could trouble former Hawks Ashlee Jones in the Merstham net.
The play flowed from end-to-end as both sides looked to overcome their lowly league status. Addai was a handful on the right wing, and forced David Hughes into the first save of the night. He cut back in from the byline, but the Harlow stopper parried the shot.
Hughes then pulled off another good save when Michael Abnett played Charlie Penny behind the defence, but quick reactions prevented the goal.
At the other end Harlow’s Alex Read went close. Charlie Edwards set up the shot, but Read’s left-footed effort was blocked just wide of the post and out for a corner.
HT: Harlow Town 0-0 Merstham
The Hawks came out flying in the second half and Alex Read was unlucky not to break the deadlock soon after the re-start. A free kick was crossed in dangerously, but he couldn’t connect properly with his head and it went wide.
Harlow dominated possession for the next 20 minutes with the visitors hardly able to escape from their own half, but despite seeing the majority of the play, in a reflection of their recent matches the Hawks were unable to create significant chances.
With 73 minutes on the clock, Merstham struck the opening goal. A trademark counter-attacking run from Addai down the right was crossed in the middle, and in a moment of madness two Harlow defenders collided with each other and ended in a heap on the floor. The ball made its way through to Reece Hall who unmarked, slid home the finish.
Harlow sprang back into action and equalised within four minutes. A corner was delivered into the middle, and while the attackers were appealing for a penalty following a push on Ibrahima Sonko, the ball was cleared.
It only reached as far as Charlie Edwards outside the box, and with a shimmy to get the ball out from under his feet, he placed a delightful curling effort just under the bar.
Harlow were in the ascendancy and sensed a rare victory. Toby Ajala tried his luck from the edge of the area, but it was straight at Jones who got behind it.
Alex Read then laid off for Syrus Gordon to run on to, but his driven shot grazed the post.
With two minutes of normal time remaining Toby Ajala directed a corner towards goal, and Alex Read got a toe on the ball from just a few of yards out to try and turn it goalwards. Somehow the ball hit the bar and was cleared from danger.
In the 90th minute Merstham scored the winner. A counter-attack was crossed to Charlie Penny, and he made no mistake, stroking home the ball to leave the Hawks dwelling on the missed opportunities.
FT: Harlow Town 1-2 Merstham
Next up, Harlow host Burgess Hill in a relegation six-pointer. Kick off is at 3pm on Saturday 10th February.