Hawks breeze through to final
By Ian Barham
A devastating three goals from Harlow early in the second half blew away the visitors and set the Hawks up with a home tie in the playoff final.
Junior Dadson opened the scoring soon after the break, before a stonewall penalty was converted by Alex Read to give a two goal cushion.
Jared Small’s pace on the right wing caused countless problems for the Cray defence, and another low cross was finished by Piers Wixon to allow Harlow to see out the game in relative comfort.
Harlow controlled possession in the first half, but Cray seemed happy to sit deep and allow the Hawks to push on without being able to really test the visiting goalkeeper.
A loose pass by Ben Payne gifted the ball to Junior Dadson, but the shot was gathered easily by Nick Blue in the Cray net.
Leigh Bremner sent a speculative effort over the bar from the edge of the area for the visitors, before Harlow’s Layne Eadie send a cross flashing across the face of goal with no-one able to tap in.
The Hawks began to turn the screw and were enjoying more possession, but time and time again the final ball was overplayed as they couldn’t create shots on goal.
The visitors were dangerous on the counter-attack, and James Duckworth had a glorious chance to put Wanderers ahead when the Cray defence cleared their lines. The striker capitalised on a slip by Ibrahima Sonko, but as he was bearing down on goal, Harlow custodian David Hughes expertly forced him out wide and he could only hit the side netting from the tight angle.
Harlow left-back Layne Eadie created his own opportunity when he turned defence into attack, covering half the pitch in a matter of seconds. 25 yards out he unleashed a shot but it crept just over the bar.
HT: Harlow Town 0-0 Cray Wanderers
The Hawks came flying out of the blocks in the second period, taking the lead with just three minutes played. Jared Small beat two Cray defenders before fizzing a low cross into the box. Junior Dadson was waiting in the centre to side-foot home.
Just five minutes later the lead was doubled from the penalty spot. A fabulous passing move involving several Harlow players came to Alex Read in the penalty box. His back-heel set-up Craig Pope, but his legs were taken from under him before he could get a shot away.
Alex Read stepped up to convert the spot-kick, tucking the ball inside the post despite the goalkeeper diving the right way.
Cray looked to get back into the game immediately, but a magnificent save from Harlow ‘keeper David Hughes kept them at bay. Substitute Michael Frieter’s free kick went over the wall and was heading in, when Hughes dived across goal to tip onto the bar and out of danger.
On 62 minutes, Harlow put the game out of sight. A great ball forward from Ibrahima Sonko was brought down with precision by Jared Small. The winger turned his defender and burst into the box, before another low cross picked out Piers Wixon to turn home for Harlow’s third.
Layne Eadie could have made it four, when a delightfully chipped through-ball was hit first-time by the left back inside the area. The ball narrowly flew over the net to the relief of the visitors.
Cray had the wind knocked out of their sales, and although they continued to probe forwards, they weren’t able to pull back a goal. Speculative efforts failed to trouble the Harlow defence, and the home midfielders were immense in breaking down attacks again and again.
Harlow saw out the game comfortably, and booked a place in their second playoff final in three years.
FT: Harlow Town 3-0 Cray Wanderers
With AFC Hornchurch defeating Thurrock away from home, Harlow face the Urchins in the playoff final. The game will be played at the Harlow Arena on Sunday 1st May, with a 3pm kick off.