Hawks Suffer Velocity Trophy Exit
By Ian Barham
Two quickfire second half goals saw Potters Bar advance at Harlow’s expense, after what was a promising first-half from the hosts.
By Callum Hibberd
Charlie Edwards opened the scoring in the 20th minute with a cool nutmeg to put Harlow 1-0 up.
However, goals in the 61st and 63rd minute from Bradley Sach and George Nicholas meant Harlow fell at the first hurdle of Isthmian’s ‘Leage Cup’ for the second season in a row.
With Potters Bar also looking to avoid a first-round exit, the game began at a fast pace. Emile Acquah, making his full debut, won a free kick after putting left-back David Sota under immense pressure. Yannick Kissi’s free kick was deep and troubling, but after a confident punch from Charles Taylor, Potters Bar countered, Carvalho Pedro showing his immense pace down the left flank. His continuous link up play with Michael Murray wouldn’t make the night easy for Harlow, but Harlow’s defence were up to it, particularly Paul Rodgers, who did extremely well to slide across and deny a certain goal in the tenth minute, following a fizzing cross from Sach.
Three minutes later, the Hawks had their first chance. Acquah won yet another free kick on the right with strong hold up play. Eventually, the ball found it’s way back to Rodgers on the right. His cross to Edwards was accurate, but the header did not match. Jason Raad continued to threaten with the ball at his feet, continuously dancing his way into the box, but was in the wrong place in the wrong time in the 18th minute, getting in the way of a goal-bound JJ Da Cruz volley.
Kissi and Rodgers were impressive in their delivery, but the hosts were just lacking an end product, which they found 20 minutes in. Fabion Simms won it back in the middle, and tapped it to Edwards, who found Raad on the right. The South-African came back in, and ignored Rodgers bursting down the right. Instead, on the half-turn, he slid the ball past both centre-backs, to Edwards, who smartly poked the ball beneath Charles Taylor’s legs.
Potters Bar continued as they began despite going a goal down, with fast counter attacks and a heavy reliance on their front free. However, it was defensive midfielder George Nicholas who provided their next piece of creative play, but his chipped cross from the right should’ve been met by Murray. Raad responded in fashion, almost creating a carbon copy of his earlier assist, but Taylor just about smothered the ball before Acquah could reach it.
The game continued in it’s end-to-end manner, Carvalho Pedro narrowly curling wide from the right in the 31st minute after good work from Sach outside the box. Both teams continued to attempt crosses and ambitious through balls, but no more chances followed in what was an entertaining first half.
HALF-TIME: Harlow Town 1 – 0 Potters Bar Town
Potters Bar made one change at half-time, with Daniel Taylor coming on for right-back Jordan Lawal. The visitors started better, and this wasn’t helped by the lively Raad picking up a knock in the 54th minute, Festus Lori replacing him on the right wing. Josh Bexon was called into action a minute later, making himself big in front of his left post, denying Murray, who had received the ball there after some more impressive interplay between Sach and Ryan Forde.
The Hawks countered immediately, Syrus Gordon held the ball in the middle, and saw Clayden making a run inside. The through ball was accurate, but the young winger tried to take the ball round the opposition ‘keeper and failed. Following this, the ball eventually found him again. The ball was laid backwards to Kissi, who’s delightful curling cross was half an inch away from being met on the bounce by Edwards.
In the 61st minute, Potters Bar equalised, although not through their usual passing football. Sach rushed onto a simple hoofed clearance, before beating Gradi Milenge and Bexon for pace and rounding them both, giving him a simple tap in.
Harlow were rocked, and fell behind just two minutes later, in even simpler fashion. Murray whipped in a free-kick from the left-hand side of the box, with Nicholas heading the ball into the bottom right to give Bar the lead, the game turned on it’s head. With momentum on their side, the visitors continued to threaten Harlow’s goal, while remaining disciplined in defence. Da Cruz released a dangerous cross-field pass to Lori, but the substitutes cross-cum-shot was way over. This remained the theme of the night, with Harlow struggling to create any chances of real note.
The 79th minute substitution of Carvalho Pedro for Olufemi Ogunsola helped strengthen the visitor’s defence cause, and even Robbie Martin, who was fresh off the bench, didn’t give the desired impact he is usually capable off. Harlow’s best chance came with seven minutes to go, when Edwards headed it to Lori from a long throw, but the winger couldn’t connect with the ball.
FULL-TIME: Harlow Town 1 – 2 Potters Bar Town
Overall, it was a frustrating night for Danny Chapman and his men given the second half collapse. However, they can bounce back this Saturday (25th August), when they travel to Folkestone for a 3PM kick off. Then, two days later, they’ll welcome local rivals Bishops Stortford for a much-anticipated derby.