Bognor Benefit From Close Call
By Ian Barham
Harlow Town’s recent revival continued with an entertaining 1-1 draw against promotion-chasing Bognor Regis.
In what was a well-fought and end-to-end clash, the visitors scored from a very harsh penalty to take the lead in the ninth minute. Although Danny Chapman and his team responded very positively, they could only secure a draw, with Emile Acquah evening things up 14 minutes later.
Other results from today mean Harlow actually drop into the relegation zone, but they’ll certainly face lesser opposition than Bognor Regis over the remainder of the season.
Joseph Tomlinson started keenly for the visitors, making a run down the left early on before putting a dangerous near post ball in. It was cut out by Paul Rodgers, and Bognor Regis took a short corner. Right back Calvin Davies then put the ball along the floor to Bradley Lethbridge, but he blasted high and wide from just inside the box.
Both teams struggled to assert dominance, but Bognor Regis got a lucky break in the ninth minute. Lethbridge put in an overhit cross, with James Muitt chasing it down. JJ Da Cruz put in a rash tackle on the striker and gave away a penalty. It was extremely debatable though, with Bognor Regis media personnel even agreeing that the decision was dubious. James Muitt went for power over placement and was successful, scoring into the left hand side to put his side ahead.
Harlow were rightfully rocked, and Daniel Smith was trying to take advantage. The young winger’s mazy run into the box was followed by a fizzing low cross, which JJ Da Cruz had to boot off the line in the 11th minute.
Lethbridge, who has already scored nine goals this season, was at it again a minute later. His pinpoint whipped cross from the left should’ve been converted by 16-goal man Muitt, but his close range header was brilliantly tipped over by the left arm of Josh Bexon.
Bognor Regis were showing why they have scored the most goals in the league thus far, putting in a number of accurate crosses and through balls. Not many of them materialised though, with Harvey Whyte resorting to a long shot from in the 21st minute, Bexon having to dive well to his right to prevent a second goal.
A nasty injury to Bradley Lethbridge in the 23rd minute, caused by no contact, disrupted the game somewhat, but The Hawks took advantage. Just three minutes later, after some patient play, Yannick Kissi fizzed in a low cross from just outside the box. Emile Acquah got ahead of the defence and pounced to make the game equal, displaying true poaching ability to take his tally for the season to four.
Tomlinson had been a constant pain at left-back, and blasted down the left flank half an hour in. He reached the byline and chipped the ball back for Smith. Smith attempted an outrageous back heel volley, which would’ve paid off had Taylor Hastings not been anticipating it on the line. On the counter, Toby Adaje received a promising through ball from Acquah on the edge of the box, but hesitated too much, severely restricting his shooting angle. He could only shoot from the byline, and the shot was easily saved.
Acquah had been lively this period, and won possession off of Tomlinson in the 36th minute, before galloping past Gary Charman. He was eventually dispossessed in the box, but his industrious work summed up the positive response by Danny Chapman’s men to a ridiculous opening goal.
With five minutes to go of the half, it was Tomlinson who was at it again. After blasting into the box, the left-back executed a dinked cross goalwards, no one got to it, but many thought it had gone in, the ball just gliding wide of the right post. The Rocks had a golden chance on the stroke of the half-time whistle, this one through Mason Walsh. The substitute was on the end of a beautiful cross from Davies, but opted not to head towards goal, instead heading across to a non-existent team mate.
HALF-TIME: Harlow Town 1 - 1 Bognor Regis Town
Both teams started the second half brightly, but no chances were materialising. Perhaps the biggest event of the opening exchanges was Rocks keeper Daniel Lincoln going down for a second time. He soldiered on and continued to play, handy given there was no natural replacement for him on the bench.
Harlow gradually started to take control, showing the cohesion and speed which had rewarded them with a rise out of the relegation zone in recent weeks. But remarkably, there were no shots on goal until the 66th minute, when half-time substitute Reece Hackney shot ambitiously from 40 yards. His shot came down rapidly, but was well covered by Lincoln.
The game ebbed and flowed both ways, but with Harlow failing to get close to that winning goal, Christian Scales was bought on for Koranteng in the 73rd minute.
The change almost paid off immediately. Scales launched a long free kick from the half way line, which Acquah reached and headed across. Unfortunately for Harlow, Da Cruz was agonisingly close, but couldn’t connect.
A real chance then came five minutes later. After yet another short free kick from Bognor, Adaje won the ball and started a rapid counter attack, slotting it through to Paul Rodgers just inside Bognor’s half. The right back surged forwards, and put in an outrageous curved cross from thirty yards out. Scales followed it and acrobatically volleyed it towards goal, calling Lincoln into action with a brilliant save. Adaje was there on the follow up, but couldn’t remain balanced enough to put the ball in the net.
Bognor Regis then came close themselves three minutes later. Tomlinson got himself involved again, with a brilliant cross into the box, and it was Tommy Scutt who hit the bar with an acrobatic volley from range.
Willed on by a thoroughly entertained home crowd, Scales and Da Cruz worked a delightful one-two in the middle, but Da Cruz was left with no other option but to shoot from 20 yards. Harlow just had to find that one ball, and they surely would’ve got their deserved winner.
Unfortunately, despite giving their all in the three minutes of additional time, Harlow failed to do so. However, they were definitely the better side, and deserved to earn another three points off of a high-flying side.
FULL-TIME: Harlow Town 1 - 1 Bognor Regis Town
Harlow make the trip to another strong team next weekend in Enfield Town (3PM KO) and then welcome Leatherhead to the McCullochs Arena on the 15th of December (3PM).