Harlow Pick Up Hard Earned Point
A promising second half display saw debuting defender JJ Da Cruz score to cancel out a first half goal from Conor Tighe.
by Callum Hibberd
The familiar foe scored an impressive goal in the 23rd minute to put the visitors ahead. Harlow looked on their way to a second consecutive defeat, but Da Cruz scored following some pinball football at a corner to secure a hard-earned draw.
The result sees Harlow finish the day in 18th, with one point from two games.
Keen to bounce back from Saturday’s disappointment, Harlow were pressing hard from the start, but it was Burgess Hill who had the first real chance. From a clearance, Aaron Smith-Joseph wheeled away from left-back Paul Rodgers, with Rodgers eventually getting back and seeing it out for a corner which came close but lacked a recipient.
The exciting Charles Clayden then came close in the ninth minute. After taking on Sam Fisk, the young winger cut in, and unleashed a rising shot which just missed the top left. Charlie Edwards followed suit 30 seconds later, his high cross from the right missed Andre McCollin but almost bounced in. This was the last chance Harlow would have for a while though, as Fisk and Tighe had other ideas down the left-hand side, constantly peppering Harlow’s box with crosses and finding the other in tight situations. Harlow were on the ropes, and it was Tighe who scored 13 minutes later.
A low cross was slightly miscontrolled by JJ Da Cruz, and when him and McCollin miscommunicated, Charlie Bennett pounced, giving it to Tighe, who executed a beautiful curling shot into the top right. The 19-yard goal was the striker’s fourth against Harlow in three games.
Harlow were quick to respond, Clayden nearly getting an all-important touch following an impressive turn and cross from Raad on the left. Syrus Gordon shot way over shortly after once he carried forward a short free kick. The game continued to rise in tempo, such as in the 32nd minute, when Pope put in on a promising set piece ball from the left, and an off balance Tighe saw his header trickle wide.
Harlow had one impressive passage of play before half time; Fabion Simms nudged it over the head of Tom Cadman on the turn, before finding an onrushing Clayden out wide, but the latter’s cross was overhit.
HALF-TIME: Harlow Town 0 – 1 Burgess Hill
The hosts came out a more fluid side, with each attacking player showing promise. Jason Raad attacked loose possession on the left in the 48th minute and launched a deflected cross;
McCollin got a head to it, and it looped towards the opposite corner, with Josh James scrambling to just about gather his effort.
Another counterattack came three minutes later, with Clayden supported by Raad and Da Cruz, and although the Orient loanee lost it first time round, his second attempt to play the ball to a team mate had to be blocked by Cadman in the six-yard box. He was at it again a minute later, a fizzing cross blocked by opposing skipper Gary Elphick fell into Raad’s path, but his curling shot from outside the box was way over. Harlow’s onslaught continued into the next minute, Raad spotting James way to the right of his goal at a free kick, but his curling effort didn’t quite find the top left like he would’ve wanted it to, the ‘keeper beating it away.
Burgess Hill attempted to regain control by swapping the pacey Pat Harding for striker Ben Pope. However, Hawks striker McCollin was next to come close. Following some silky interplay between Kyprianiou and Gordon, the ball was played into last weekend’s goal scorer. He waited, feinted, turned and shot hard along the floor. It bobbled, and nearly caught out James, but he eventually got it away for a corner. The pressure was mounting, Smith-Joseph picking up a yellow on 63’ for preventing a quick free kick.
Burgess Hill’s stubborn defence was broken soon after though. Raad’s left hand corner in the 69th minute came in with pace. Da Cruz got the first touch, heading it down to Simms. Simms could only stub it up to McCollin, and from his header, Da Cruz got the deft touch, wheeling away in celebration for a debut goal. This was a more than deserved outcome given Harlow’s hard work in the second half.
The game continued in an end-to-end manner, and was further enhanced by the introductions of Festus Lori and Kieron Pamment for Charles Clayden and Aaron Smith-Joseph respectively. Lori almost made an immediate impact, bursting into the right-hand side of the box and almost finding the top left, following a precise pass from Kyprianou, who was then withdrawn for Laurence Vaughan.
Harlow were certainly more composed in defence and smarter in attack, but just could not deliver end product, perhaps summed up by Simms’ dangerous cross in the 82nd minute not being pounced on. Festus delivered a weak cross three minutes later from the by-line, but it was almost turned in after a mix up between James and his defence.
Impressed by a much improved second half display, the home fans riled on their team during the five minutes of extra time. They thought they’d be rewarded with a late penalty, but a free kick was actually awarded against Harlow inside Hill’s box, following heavy jostling around the goal. From this, Harlow almost suffered late heartache. A long free kick from Henry Watson was cleared emphatically by Simms. Gordon suffered the force of it, with the ball almost being turned into his own net. Fans had their hearts in mouth, but debuting goalkeeper Josh Bexon smothered it and cleared the ball to close out the game.
FULL-TIME: Harlow Town 1 – 1 Burgess Hill
Harlow are next in action this coming Saturday (August 18th), hosting Worthing. The game kick offs at 3PM.