Hawks’ Safety Suffers Blow
By Ian Barham
Harlow Town were put to the sword by relegation rivals Wingate & Finchley who punished an error-strewn home defence with a devastating first half performance.
The visitors were five goals to the good with just over half an hour played, and despite an improved showing the second period, Harlow slumped to a heavy defeat that saw them leap-frogged by their victors in the league table.
Wingate & Finchley got off to the best possible start when Charlie Ruff’s corner was met by a towering Sean Cronin, whose looping header crept under the bar to give his side the lead after just seven minutes.
The Hawks went close to drawing level shortly after. Fabion Simms whipped a free kick into the box, but with both Emile Acquah and Curtis Ujah sliding in at the back post, it avoided them both and the chance went begging.
Reece Price-Placid then took the ball on a mazy run in the middle of the park before releasing Matt Foy through on goal, but he wasn’t able to force a save from the tight angle and it flew over the bar.
The misses would come back to haunt the Hawks, as Wingate & Finchley fired in three goals in four minutes. Cronin doubled his tally on 17 minutes with a thunderbolt of a free kick from 25 yards out, leaving Hawks stopper Marcin Brzozowski with no chance.
The floodgates opened as Anthony Mendy notched up another two in quick succession. A defensive lapse gifted Mendy a one-on-one opportunity, and he made no mistake in rounding Brzozowski to finish.
Then, Ahmet Rifat’s strike from outside the area crept through his Brzozowski’s legs, and Mendy had a simple tap-in on the line to make it four.
The Hawks were rocked, but with plenty of time left on the clock they still pushed forward on the attack. A free kick was played back to Tom Hitchcock, but he mis-kicked when in front of goal, before Curtis Ujah’s headed was easily gathered.
On 32 minutes the game was effectively over as Reece Beckles-Richardson added a fifth in spectacular fashion. The visitors hit on the counter attack, and just when it looked as though it had been contained, Beckles-Richardson send a delightful curling effort in off the post from the edge of the area.
Harlow pulled one back just before the interval when former Hawk Layne Eadie felled Matt Foy in the area. The striker dusted himself off to convert the spot-kick, but only the most optimistic of fans would have hoped for a comeback.
HT: Harlow Town 1-5 Wingate & Finchley
The visitors started the second half brightly, and it was only some desperate defending that prevented Tanasheh Abrahams from inflicting further damage. His initial effort was blocked before he put the rebound over the bar.
Charlie Ruff then then hit the woodwork with a free kick that sailed over the heads of everyone before striking the top of the Harlow Town bar.
The Hawks found another gear, and several quickfire chances came their way. Matt Foy and Tom Hitchcock went close with headers that were saved, before Emile Acquah saw a shot deflected wide of the goal.
The home side couldn’t convert their efforts however, and it was the visitors who scored again on 67 minutes to pile on the misery. A deep free kick to the back post found Charlie Cole who headed home to snuff out any hope of a revival.
Emile Acquah scored a second for the Hawks just two minutes later with a fine individual goal. He held off a defender on the edge of the box before a snap-shot found the bottom corner.
The game had seen multiple chances, and there was still time for one more goal. With just three minutes of normal time remaining, Sean Cronin completed the rout. He fired a free kick through the Harlow Town wall to seal his hat-trick,
On another day the opportunities might have yielded more goals for the Hawks, but it was the failure to take their chances combined with mistakes in defence that proved costly.
FT: Harlow Town 2-7 Wingate & Finchley
Harlow remain a point inside the drop zone, and with tough tests in the next fortnight away to promotion-chasing Merstham and Tonbridge Angels, on 23rd and 30th March respectively, the Hawks still have a huge challenge ahead of them to avoid relegation.