A Disappointing Derby Day
By Ian Barham
Bishops Stortford ran out comprehensive winners in what was a disappointing day for Harlow, who continued their poor start to the season.
by Callum Hibberd
An even first half ended with Harlow trailing after a 43rd minute goal from Olutoyosi Olusanya
And things only got worse in the second half, with Jake Cass and Alfie Mason scoring to confirm the three points, before Charlie Edwards scored a consolation penalty late on.
The result sees Harlow end the day in 22nd place, with just one point from the opening five games.
In what was a fast-paced start, Jason Raad volleyed the ball way over after an accurate cutback from Emile Acquah. Stortford were carrying their own attacking threat too, Jake Cass dribbling into the box in the sixth minute and forcing Yannick Kissi into a vital block. Stortford’s right back, Johnville Renee was dangerous also, stealing the ball from Syrus Gordon and ghosting past Gradi Milenge before failing to get a shot off inside the box. The next promising chance fell to veteran Jamie Cureton, after a Kissi clearance ricocheted into his path, Josh Bexon making a good save across goal.
Laurence Vaughan, back in the team after Saturday’s defeat away to Folkestone, headed over in the 13th minute after Acquah and Gordon linked up well on the right-hand side of the box. Both sides continued to pepper the opposition boxes with crosses and through balls, and one from the visitors bought strong penalty shouts 16 minutes in, when Bexon stood his ground against a ball-chasing Cureton.
A quiet period ensued, with both teams industrious but neither clinical. This spell was broken in the 29th minute when Raad went close with an ambitious effort. The lack of end product was frustrating, but Harlow’s front four looked more fluid than in recent games. As for the visitors, Cureton and Renee were the obvious threats, the former’s cross in the 40th minute almost finding the net.
But disaster struck with just three minutes till the interval. A corner was cleared by Stortford, and the bounce was awkward for Milenge. With Olusanya onrushing, Milenge slipped, allowing the pacey Olusanya a one-on-one chance. Bexon did well to rush out and make himself big, but his right thigh save then went in off of the winger’s head, putting Stortford into an undeserved lead.
HALF-TIME: Harlow Town 0 – Bishops Stortford 1
The Hawks were keen to regain control and had the first chance of the second half five minutes in, Fabion Simms’ flick at a corner being cleared off the line. Their next chance came from a set piece too, JJ Da Cruz failing to turn in a Kissi free kick from distance.
But yet again, it was Stortford who’d capitalise on their chances, Renee countered in the 55th minute and was yet again impressive with his footwork, finding Cass just inside the box, who turned and rifled a shot into the roof of the net to double Stortford’s lead.
Harlow responded positively and essentially camped themselves in Stortford’s half. The pressure almost told on the hour mark when Gordon hit the crossbar from about 25 yards. Gradi Milenge was then taken off for Robbie Martin, a signal of Harlow's intent to get back in the game. However, things actually got worse three minutes later, when Olunsanya got involved in another goal, sliding the ball through to Alfie Mason, who rolled it into the bottom corner to make the game 3-0.
Alex Clark then returned from injury to replace Vaughan on the left while Stortford’s Jake Cass came off for Chinedu Osadebe, but the changes didn’t alter the pattern of the game, with Stortford remaining so resilient that they actually had the next decent chance, Jordan Westcott shooting powerfully in the 80th minute and forcing Bexon into a low save. Harlow’s best hope appeared to be through aerial duels, Edwards almost bundling in a high Louis Yuill cross at the left post in the 84th minute.
The scoreline was slightly improved in Harlow’s favour through an 88th minute penalty. Adam Yuill rushed onto a crossfield ball from Martin, and was fouled by Christopher Gregan just inside the box. Charlie Edwards coolly slotted the spot kick into the bottom left for his second goal of the season, already matching last term’s tally. There was an element of improvement following this, but not enough for Harlow to prevent the visitors from picking up their first win of the season.
FULL-TIME: Harlow Town 1 – 3 Bishops Stortford
Harlow’s next chance to get their first win on the board comes this Saturday, when they are away to Leatherhead.