Hawks in Crushing Defeat
By Ian Barham
Harlow Town fell to their worst defeat in six years as a rampant Worthing side inflicted an embarrassing 9-1 score-line on the Hawks.
Worthing were in charge throughout the game, and although Harlow kept the deficit to two goals at half-time, a rampant display from the hosts in the second period, inspired by Ollie Pearce’s four-goal haul, compounded a sobering afternoon for the Hawks.
Harlow Town were suffering from somewhat of a defensive crisis going into the game with Paul Rogers, Taylor Hastings and Curtis Ujah all suffering injuries in recent weeks, so it was a baptism of fire for new signing Ugo Udoji who went straight into the side.
It only took the hosts eight minutes to open the scoring however. Ricky Aguiar played a through-ball over the Harlow defence to Ollie Pearce, who took a delightful touch to bring the ball under control before sliding it past Josh Bexon.
Reece Price-Placid, virtually the only Harlow Town player to come away with any credit from the game, started brightly and put a good cross into the box towards Matt Foy, but the striker was unable to connect.
Price-Placid did find the net to draw level on 20 minutes, with a good shot from the edge of the area that went low into the corner.
Both sides continued to create chances, as the game flowed from end to end. Jesse Starkey went close for the hosts, but his dipping shot from the edge of the area was just too high and came down on the roof of the net.
Matt Foy then nearly put Harlow Town ahead, but after a good run from midfield, his shot from a tight angle inside the box went across goal and just past the far post.
Worthing re-took the lead on 29 minutes, and it was a sublime finish. Starkey picked up the ball near the centre circle, and strode towards goal unchallenged by a Harlow defender. He let fly from 30 yards out, and it flew into the top corner and in off the woodwork.
The hosts were ramping up the pressure, with Starkey and Kwame Adubofour-Poku getting shots away, but it took until two minutes before half-time for the Harlow defence to be breached again. Pearce’s free-kick went around the wall and into the bottom corner for his second of the match.
HALF-TIME: Worthing 3-1 Harlow Town
Although Worthing had been on the front foot for the first half, there was no indication of what was about to unfold in the second period as the hosts ran riot.
Six minutes after the restart Pearce hit his hat-trick. When a corner was headed goalwards by Joe Clarke, Josh Bexon was equal to the effort, but he could only parry it and Pearce gratefully nodded in the rebound from underneath the bar.
Another corner was the undoing for the Hawks on 57 minutes, when a deep cross to the far post was tapped back across goal by Ross Edwards. Joe Clarke was in plenty of space in the middle, and volleyed home from four yards out to extend the advantage.
Harlow Town were still looking to salvage something from the game, but both Matt Foy and Tom Hitchcock saw close range efforts blocked by defenders who were keen to give the visitors not a glimmer of hope of getting back into the tie.
Worthing made it six when Pearce brought down a long ball forward before playing it into the path of Adubofour-Poku. He jinked past the defender with a turn of pace to simply slot it between the legs of Bexon.
The final ten minutes of the game compounded the Hawks’ misery. Pearce found himself in space on the edge of the area once again, placing a low shot just inside the post that beat the diving Bexon and capped an outstanding performance with a fourth goal.
Worthing were in no mood to take their foot off the gas, with two substitutes also getting in on the action. Callum Kealey’s low driven cross was turned in by Jasper Pattenden with three minutes of normal time remaining.
Despite Josh Bexon making several saves in the final few minutes of the game, he was helpless to prevent an ninth as Kealey latched onto a through ball, rounded the stopper and slid the ball home to inflict the final goal of an embarrassing defeat.
FULL-TIME: Worthing 9-1 Harlow Town
Harlow Town remain two points above the drop-zone, but they will need to bounce back quickly when they host fellow relegation-threatened side Whitehawk on Saturday 23rd February. Kick off is at 3pm.