It was a night to remember in the dynamic season of Harlow Town Football Club; a season filled with ups and downs, we are now on our best run so far, 12 games unbeaten. It now looks to be a genuine possibility of winning a double this season, and this was aided by a comfortable win against Premier Division side Brantham Athletic on Tuesday night.
The Hawks had every right to be confident, following a 6-0 win days earlier against Park View. However, after Brantham Athletic parted ways with manager Pip Boyland, it was tricky to determine what to expect from the away side, who sit 15th in the Premier Division.
Our Starting XI was not dissimilar to Saturday’s with only two changes: Raheem Gray came in after Ishaq reported a minor injury (he will be back tomorrow for the NW London game) and Jack Martin started on the left.
On a day of horrid weather, neither team could get the ball moving quickly early on and as a result only two shots were taken in the first 10 minutes – both from Brantham. One of which was saved by James Pellin and the second was sent wide by Godbold.
The slippery surface proved detrimental for Brantham as Tom Lawson misplaced a pass, sending Raheem Gray one-on-one with Shorten. The striker made no mistake and produced a perfect finish, giving us the early advantage and acting as a reality check for Brantham, to step it up a gear. However, the final score is not a result of a poor away performance, but rather an elite one from the home side.
Brantham came forward, and won a corner which was headed wide and minutes later, Jack Zielinski saw his header glance over the bar from a Jelliman free kick. With the Hawks in control of possession, they won a corner for themselves. This proved to be a pivotal moment for them, as Shorten punched the corner into the path of skipper James Folkes. Our captain cut inside onto his left foot and struck it momentously past the keeper. The crowd went wild and the prospect of a Harlow Town semi-final looked more realistic than ever.
Just before the break, Jack Cousins hit a free kick marginally wide, marking the final opportunity of the half for the Hawks, and Brantham registered a shot on goal that was no trouble for Pellin. The half time score was Harlow Town 2-0 Brantham Athletic.
It seemed as though Harlow would wrap the game up at the beginning of the second half; another defensive error sent Jack Zielinski in on goal, but this time the angle was much tighter and with less time to think, Shorten rushed off his line and made a great save to deny the striker.
The Hawks continued to push for the final goal, and won another free kick in a dangerous area, from which Ruben Santos hit the wall and the follow up from Jack Cousins was just over the bar.
Heroics were on show, as Brantham came so close to pulling one back, a shot that had beaten James Pellin was cleared off the line by Alfie Attrill. Despite their efforts, Brantham just couldn’t find the net.
It was all done and dusted when Tom Jelliman whipped in a free-kick and with Jack Zielinski unmarked, the striker leapt into the air and headed home magnificently. Game over for Brantham, as with 2 minutes of normal time to go, a comeback was more than unlikely.
Limbs occurred when the referee blew the full-time whistle, as the celebrations had begun. Harlow make the semi-finals of the League Challenge Cup, and have a real opportunity to win a trophy for the first time in many years.
Thank you all for your continued support. Despite the offputting weather, we still registered an attendance of 247 and an electric atmosphere to boot. Our focus turns to tomorrow’s League fixture away (at our home ground) to NW London.