Harlow Defeated In Vital Relegation Clash
By Ian Barham
A simple set piece and a sloppy stoppage time goal saw Harlow drop into the relegation zone in this early season six-pointer.
by Callum Hibberd
Things were looking bright for Harlow, with a solo masterpiece from Jason Raad giving them the lead despite being the lesser side in the first half.
But the game was soon turned on it’s head, a 62nd minute freekick from The Casuals’ skipper and a 91st minute goal from their top scorer consigning Harlow to a fifth consecutive home defeat. The defeat sees Harlow end the day in 21st, with Corinthian-Casuals leapfrogging them, as they now sit in 19th.
Harlow began stubbornly, restricting Corinthian-Casuals, the only team not to pick up an away point thus far, to only a long shot in the first ten minutes, Mu Maan way off the mark. Their best threat appeared to be Jordan Clarke, who slowly began to find ways into the box. Harlow finally found theirs in the 12th minute, a soft yet testing Jason Raad cross calling opposing keeper Bradley Comins into action.
Harlow had their first promising attack with a quarter of an hour gone. After stealing the ball in midfield, Harlow worked their way with some one touch football to Louis Youill out wide. His cross was pinpoint, and although Laurence Vaughan made a hint of contact with it, he was adjudged to be offside anyway.
A tantalising cross from Warren Morgan put JJ Da Cruz in a spot of bother moments later. The centre-half, who is Harlow’s joint top-scorer, saw his block fall straight into the path of Jordan Clarke, but his volleyed shot to the bottom right was well matched by Josh Bexon. So far, the Southend United loanee was easily on his way to picking up a first clean sheet.
On 22 minutes, Clarke threatened again, receiving the ball outside the box and dancing round Raad. His shot was less impressive though, Bexon smothering it easily to his lower right.
As Clarke and Danny Cunningham continued to threaten, Charlie Edwards and Fabion Simms continued to work hard in defensive midfield. Their efforts were clearly frustrating Clarke, who picked up a yellow for preventing a quick free kick. Shortly after, he laid into the path of Cunningham just inside the box, but the attacking midfielder shot just over on the turn.
A hard and long ball from Jack Strange on 32 minutes was cleverly and deceitfully left by Cunningham, allowing Clarke to blast down the touchline. Fortunately for The Hawks, his decent cross to Gabriel Odunaike was wildly missed. The warning signs for Harlow were certainly there though, The Casuals’ attacking players were certainly enjoying themselves. Next up to impress was their right-back, Juevan Spencer, who latched onto a through ball in his own half and touched it round Da Cruz. The pacey defender then slipped in a good ball to Gabriel Odunaike, who shot way over despite being in line with the centre of the goal.
Raad curled wide in the 37th minute after linking up well with Youill, the midfielder’s shot from about 15 yards out arguably Harlow’s best chance of the half. For their so far stout defending, Harlow nearly conceded a comedic own goal with six minutes of the half left. Clarke produced more fancy footwork in the box yet put in a weak cutback, which Da Cruz only just about tapped wide of his own net.
HALF-TIME: Harlow Town 0 – 0 Corinthian-Casuals
The first half started in the best possible fashion for Harlow. Playing out from the back, Da Cruz gave it to Martin. He then took the ball forward before finding Raad. According to the crowd, switching it wide then looked the best option, but Raad had other ideas. A pair of stepovers left Morgan and Strange on the floor, before an outside-of-the-boot finish into the top right put Harlow ahead, giving Raad his second goal of the season.
The Casuals almost responded in the best way possible as well. Some smart interplay from the usual sources eventually saw Odunaike slip the ball past the defensive line, and Clarke really should’ve equalised from close range, although the pressure applied from Vaughan most definitely had a say
In the 62nd minute, the Casuals found their equaliser, Ekim curling over the wall and into the top left from an 18-yard free kick.
Harlow responded positively, Edwards seeing Vaughan in space out on the left, who’s cross was then deflected for a corner. This actually resulted in a chance for the visitors, a slick counter eventually resulting in Odunaike seeing a powerful shot blocked by Rodgers.
Charlie Weatherhead, who may have been expecting a start following the release of Syrus Gordon midweek, entered the field in the 68th minute, in place of Laurence Vaughan. Fellow summer signing Raad then won a corner in the 70th minute, Strange blocking his low shot, although the chance came to nothing.
Raad was at it again in the 78th minute. After receiving a crossfield ball from Da Cruz, the lively winger touched the ball down well, glided past Spencer with ease, before crossing hard and fast to Acquah, who headed it just wide on the turn. Gradi Milenge then replaced Edwards, a change which saw the substitute go to right-back, Yuill to right wing, and Martin into the number 10 role.
A quiet period ensued, exchanged free kicks and some substitutions for the visitors disrupting the flow of the game. This spell was ended in the 88th minute; Yuill put in a good cross which Comins punched out. The ball only went as far as Milenge, who on the front right corner of the box, shot way over.
This miss would come back to bite them. With one minute of the five extra played, Comins booted the ball out of his hands desperately down the field. It bounced awkwardly in front of Rodgers, and his hesitation allowed five-goal Cunningham to pounce. The forward, who had been impressive all day, poked the ball under a determined Bexon, taking three vital points back to Surrey and ensuring the Harlow fans went home disappointed again.
FULL-TIME: Harlow Town 1 – 2 Corinthian Casuals
Harlow next play two weeks from now, hosting Dorking for a 3PM kick-off.